Hoping to Audition for Netflix in Australia? Here’s How It Works

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Photo Source: “Heartbreak High” Courtesy Netflix

Are you ready to be the next Chloe Hayden? She made her debut on Netflix’s Heartbreak High and went on to win an AACTA. The global streamer that produces top shows like Boy Swallows Universe, Heartbreak High, and Desert King has a track record of launching the careers of previously unknown creatives. Could you be next?  

Here’s our step-by-step guide to Netflix’s auditioning and casting process, plus tips on how to get that life-changing role that will fast-track your career.

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Netflix Down Under

Netflix is committed to making homegrown Australian shows. “We’re a team of Aussies working with Aussies to make shows that are for us, by us, and about us,” said Que Minh Luu, director of content for the streamer’s Australian and New Zealand markets, in 2023. “When we fully commit to that authentically Australian point of view, we ensure that our audiences feel seen, heard, and understood—and they fall in love with our stories.”

It’s putting its money where its mouth is: Between 2019 and 2023, Netflix invested AU$1 billion in new Australian and Australia-related films and shows.

How the Netflix casting process works

Netflix does not audition in-house. It buys and commissions programmes from all over the world to stream on its platforms. It works like this: Netflix pays production companies to make its original shows, such as Clickbait and Wellmania. The production company then hires a casting director to work with the director and other key personnel to cast it. Alternatively, it buys or acquires existing shows to stream, popular examples being Kath & Kim, The Cry, Love on the Spectrum, and Fisk. 

This means there isn’t one way to land a Netflix audition. Each production company hunts for talent in its own way. So, when the credits roll on your favourite Netflix show, stick around to find out who cast it, then check out their profile on IMDb for more on the sorts of projects they cast.   

Both Netflix and its affiliate companies have a reputation for finding new, undiscovered creatives. They trawl agent submissions, social media, and casting websites in their search for the best new talent. Heartbreak High casting director Amanda Mitchell told the Equity Foundation podcast she looks in all manner of places for the next big thing. 

Remember, Netflix is a global streamer. Being from Australia doesn’t limit you to Aussie productions. Think big and internationally: Jacob Elordi and Sarah Snook are just two of Hollywood’s hottest names who come from Down Under.

Australian Netflix casting directors to know

Desert King - Behind The Scenes Photo

“Desert King” - Behind The Scenes Photo Courtesy Netflix

Many casting directors (CDs) who have worked with Netflix will do so again, and getting on their radar is a step in the right direction. 

Here are some casting directors of Netflix Original titles to get you started:

  • Amanda Mitchell, CD of Heartbreak High. Production company: Fremantle Australia and NewBe 
  • Anousha Zarkesh, CD of Desert King. Production company: Easy Tiger 
  • Kirsty McGregor, CD of Apple Cider Vinegar. Production company: See Saw Films 
  • Jane Norris, CD of The Survivors. Production company: Tony Ayres Productions 
  • Ben Parkinson, CD of Love Is in the Air. Production company: The Steve Jaggi Company
  • Marianne Jade, CD of Wellmania. Production company: Freemantle Australia   

Talking about her search to cast Netflix’s Heartbreak High, Mitchell told the Equity Foundation podcast that her company cast the net wide for the leads, auditioning over 1,500 actors for the main characters and over 5,000 for the ensemble. Her top tip for a winning audition is preparation. “To me, nothing beats prep. It sounds like such an obvious thing, but it’s not just thinking about your character and the backstory, it’s also thinking about the genre and your place in the overall story.”

Having an agent who is plugged into the industry grapevine is a great way to hear about shows that are casting. A strong agent can also help get you into the audition room because these professionals have working relationships with production companies. However, landing representation is not essential to getting work. Just because you’ve yet to sign doesn’t mean you can’t get noticed.

No agent? Here’s how to make it work

Keep an eye out for casting opportunities. Even a small part in a tiny production can put you in front of other creatives and lead to more work.

Veteran CD Nikki Barrett recommends trying to get into short films or indie theatre productions. “Be visible. It is harder, obviously, if you don’t have an agent, but it’s not impossible. You have to ensure your work is available everywhere. Make sure everyone knows about you, you have contacted all the casting people, and you’ve sent your photo and clips, maybe every couple of months. It’s not necessary to bombard us because we get too many emails to cope with that.”

It’s good advice, whether you’re signed to an agent or not. Here’s a checklist:

  • Get footage of yourself portraying a variety of characters 
  • Create a personal website where you can showcase your talents
  • Ensure your portfolio and CV are up-to-date 
  • Promote yourself and your work on your socials
  • Engage on social with casting directors and other movers and shakers with comments, tags, and likes
  • Get networking: talent matters but so does who you know in the industry

If you’re able, go where CDs and directors are likely to mingle, such as the Sydney Film Festival, Flickerfest, or the Oz Indie Film Festival. You could also offer to be an audition reader for a casting director whose work you enjoy. There are many ways to get your foot in the door, so get out there, be passionate, and show the world your talents.

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