Finding Auditions Without Agency

I was curious does one NEED to be part of an agency or can they find auditions to attend for roles on their own?

I’m not trying to attend auditions or become an actor nor do I have much knowledge, but I’m simply curious and always guessed that agents help secure jobs and auditions for their clients to attend.

So can someone with out an agent attend auditions, and if so how would they find about auditions being held in their city?

There are, from time to time, “open auditions” for members of the chorus, extras, etc. which are advertised in the trade papers (or whatever show biz people are using to communicate with each other these days.)

But it’s my understanding that an agent is necessary not only to find out about auditions, but to sell you to the casting people so you can get a slot to audition.

Now I’m going to ask this be moved to Cafe Society where a professional actor might see it.

You are correct, this should be moved to Cafe Society.

Moved at OP’s request. We do have a professional actor who is on the boards, I’ll ask her to reply.

It depends. For small time indy projects, audition notices are posted on various regional boards, even facebook pages. Sometimes casting agents for larger projects will also post calls on those boards for paid work. I’m on a few of those sites, and I see stuff like commercials, music videos, and some movies having auditions for speaking roles–but generally not for leading or major supporting roles. Often the call is to submit pictures and a “demo reel” of other roles you’ve done, and if they like your look, you may get a “call back” to audition in person.

I suspect you’d need an agent for anything above that level in film/tv work.

One of my best friends moved to LA 6 years ago to become a professional actor. He tried to do it on his own for all of about 2 months before realizing you need serious connections to make a living at acting. To his credit, he worked hard at it, invested a lot of time and money on photos, classes, putting together demo reels and finding the right manager and agent and he’s got some sort of steady income now. He does a lot of indy stuff and has had probably a grand total of 5 to 10 TV gigs.

So my impression was if you just want to snag a role as an extra, you don’t need an agent (but it helds). If you want to make a living at it, you absolutely need representation.

It depends strongly on where the OP is and what he or she wants to audition for. 20 years ago in NY there were weekly newspapers that carried open audition notices. I think they were mostly for non-union indie jobs, and I assume they don’t pay much. I also assume this stuff is on line now.
However all the union legit, commercial and industrial jobs my daughter auditioned for were through one of her agents and were not advertised, and I never heard any discussions with people just dropping in.

But if you’re serious, why not try to get an agent? They are happy to sign people they think they might get work. If no agent wants to talk to you, then you are likely to not be super successful in the business. And the fee is well worth it to get a shot at good opportunities, and to have someone the casting director trusts put in a good word for you.

My experience is NY and LA. I don’t know how really small markets work.

It’s tough to get ‘professional’ work without an agent and it’s tough to get an agent without professional work.

You can totally do background jobs without an agent.

An actor friend of mine who is working it recently told me that great advice he got was to purchase a good police uniform. (this is in NYC) He’s done a lot of background work and some ‘featured’ extra. He got to arrest some of the cast of Girls. Now with that small role he gets an agent and hopefully bigger roles.

Was he a principal in that gig? There are strict rules about whether an actor is a principal or an extra. Speaking bits are definitely principal ones, so are roles where the camera focuses on you. I know of mothers who told their kids to push ahead in a crowd to try to get upgraded. The director was not happy.
Is it true that agents won’t take on people who haven’t worked? It is definitely not true for kids.

I actually live in Los Angeles.

Of course, sure. Since you didn’t specify whether you meant film/tv or live theatre, I’ll speak for the latter since I work in it. Now, I’m a music director/pianist so I don’t have to do this myself (our work is more word-of-mouth than auditions), but I also play piano for tons of auditions and all my friends are actors, so I know what they go through.

You can join Equity and get appointments for auditions, so you don’t have to sit in a waiting room all day, and if you have an agent they can help you get those appointments, but before you join that union (which you have to earn by… getting a union gig, in a horrible catch-22) you’re “non-Equity”, which means you’re on your own, sucka.

So you read or and it lists all the auditions for the week, and you go and you wait behind all the Equity people, sometimes showing up at 6am to sign your name for a 2pm audition slot, but you can’t leave in the meantime because you don’t know that they’ll call you exactly at 2. So you get work done on your computer, read, or silently judge the people around you.

It’s a rough life. Most actors who want to do it professionally strive to find an agent and/or become Equity. But just because you get an agent doesn’t mean you can just sit back and let them do the work for you. They’re representing several (sometimes hundreds) of actors, and really they’re there to help you negotiate if you get an offer, not necessarily to send you out on dozens of auditions. But, they do do that occasionally.

But yes, information like that is readily available on the sites I mentioned, as well as I’ve been an extra in a couple of tv shows (Blue Bloods and Flesh and Bone), and while I am in the musicians’ union I’m definitely not Equity. I got those gigs because I’m a member of those websites and I sent them my headshot and resume. It’s a fun thing to do on the side, and I’m not entirely interested in doing it for a career. So yes, you can do it without an agent, but the natural course of a professional career is going to include getting one, and it’s definitely cause for celebration!