Welcome to Directing on a Dime, where indie moviemaker Andy Young provides tips and insight for moviemakers whose budget is more The Blair Witch Project than Avatar. Have questions for Andy about low-budget (or no-budget) moviemaking? Ask away at .

Once your script is finished, it’s time to bring it to life, and for that you’ll need actors. Last weekend I helped out at the auditions a friend of mine was holding for his next short film. As with any other aspect of moviemaking, some parts of it went smoothly and some parts did not. Here are some tips on how a director can make their auditions better for themselves, the actors and the project as a whole.

1. Come Prepared. Book your rooms, print your sign-in sheets and tell your actors where to be well in advance. Be clear with the actors as to what their audition will consist of. In most cases, an actor will come with a monologue or even a scene from your film. If your film’s a comedy, I recommend taking time during the audition to see if they’re good at improvising.

2. Pick the Right Location. Find somewhere to hold your audition that’s going to make your actors feel comfortable and your project seem credible (I assure you, a community theater or classroom will look far more legit than your mom’s basement). Make sure to include directions to wherever the auditions are being held in your casting call.

3. Create a Schedule. If you tell all your actors to show up at one, they’re all going to show up at one. If auditions are from one to five, you’re going to have a lot of actors sitting around for hours on end. Consider scheduling each audition in 10-15 minute intervals or having people come in 30-minute groups. No-shows, dropouts and delays are inevitable, but at least you won’t have frustrated, nervous actors twiddling their thumbs or walking out (see #8).

4. Be Professional. You can’t put a price on looking like a professional; it’s an invaluable asset that you can’t afford to lose with your cast and crew, even as early on as auditions. Keep in mind that, in a way, the actors are auditioning you to see what kind of director you are: Are you prepared? Are you rude? Do you have a grasp on the material? Do you know how to work with actors? Do you even know what you’re doing?! Whether or not you have experience, always come prepared and ready to show the actor what kind of director you really are.

5. Make the Actors Feel Comfortable. Your job as a director is to get the best possible performance out of your actors. Acting in front of strangers is intimidating enough as it is, so even if you’re a little behind schedule during auditions, don’t make the actors feel rushed. Treat them like you would treat them on set. They took time out of their day to drive out to the audition, wait around and practice their scene, so even if they aren’t right for the part, the least you can do is hear them out and give them a fair shot (again, see #8).

6. Know What You Want. By the time you’re holding auditions, you should know your script better than anyone, so go into every audition knowing what you want out of the actor. But look at things other than their performance when making your decision: Did the actor prepare for the audition? Are they taking this seriously? Even if they’re the next Brando, do your research before setting up callbacks or making a final decision by checking out some of their other work and talking to other directors they’ve worked with. The last thing you need at this point is a flake or a drama queen.

7. The Camera Is Your Friend. DV tape is cheap, so record your auditions. An actor might do well in front of a group of random strangers, but the additional presence of a camera will change some people’s entire performance. Taping the auditions is a great opportunity to see how your actor looks on camera, and it will be a useful reference when whittling down the possibilities to make your final decision.

8. Don’t Make Enemies. If an actor isn’t right for the part, they aren’t right for the part, but they might be just the person you need for your next project, so don’t burn any bridges. Encourage them, let them know that you want to work with them in the future and make them feel like they still gave you a valuable performance. Make them want to work with you. If, in the future, an actor or agent sees your name on a script and the only thing they remember is that “nightmare casting call,” you’re going to lose business and credibility. Bottom line: This is your job. Take it seriously.

Andy Young is a director, editor, writer and composer living in Austin, Texas. At the age of twenty, he has produced over 100 short films and one feature film, The Legend of Action Man, which he shot on a budget of only $200. Andy continues to make low-budget shorts with his sketch comedy group Dingoman Productions.