Self-Taping an Audition

These days more and more auditions/castings are self-taped.

This means the actor films themself performing a scene and sends the video to the casting director to watch.

It saves a lot of time and money doing this. Casting directors can see more actors than ever before, and actors can apply for more castings without having to pay out for their travel expenses or take time off to go to an audition.

It’s easy to make an awesome self-tape.

But it’s also easy to make a bad one.

Sometimes the casting notice will tell you exactly how to self-tape your audition, but if they don’t, then follow these simple steps to make an awesome self-tape which will help you get the job!

1. Keep the camera in landscape mode

These days it’s acceptable to film your self-tape with a mobile phone or tablet. The quality is often excellent and more than enough for a self-tape. 

But the first rule is keep the picture Landscape mode and never Portrait mode. The picture above shows you why.

2. Keep the setting simple

The pictures have a similar content, but it is much easier to see the woman than the man. 

By all means add one or two props to the set (if you’re filming a scene which takes place in a kitchen, for example, you can show some cupboards behind you or maybe a few dinner plates on the table) but don’t overdo it.

The most important thing in the video is you so while you can have a little bit of set dressing, don’t make it too busy.

3. Sound & Light

It’s important that they can hear you and that they can see you.

For sound, although the microphone on your phone or tablet might be enough, if you want to take it seriously you might want to invest in a small lapel mic to capture everything. A good one doesn’t have to cost much (less than €100) and it can make a difference.

Oh, and while we are on the subject of sound, it’s not necessary to clearly hear anyone you are supposed to be talking to in the scene. Only your voice really counts and even if you have the quiet voice of a non-actor feeding you lines, that’s absolutely fine!

As far as light goes, the more the better. While natural light is acceptable if there’s nothing else, think about investing in a ring light or LED to make sure your face is lit clearly.

4. Remember, it’s all about you

The whole reason the production asks for a self-tape is to see you in action.

So keep the camera fairly close (top of body and head is good) and don’t cut away or add anything extra. Keep it simple. Also keep the camera fixed (no fancy movements) and the picture clear and sharp.

And they will love you for it.

5. And finally…

  1. Trim the video to the best take
  2. Add a card at the beginning with your name, the self-tape title, and your email address
  3. Add the same card to the end of the video
  4. Unless they ask otherwise, upload it to YouTube or Vimeo but NEVER MAKE IT PUBLIC – the production doesn’t want these videos spread over the internet for anyone to see
Good luck!

Self-Tape Notes

  1. If someone is reading with you off screen, make sure they read in a quiet, neutral way and not too loud
  2. Avoid using an automated reader if you can (it doesn’t sound good)
  3. Avoid reading your lines; try to learn the script instead

And Finally

Unless otherwise asked for…

  1. Name the self-tape with your name, e.g. joe_actor_self-tape_colonel.mpg and not just some random filename which will get lost
  2. If you have to send your video as an attachment, use a transfer service to send it (e.g. WeTransfer) instead of attaching to an email
  3. If the casting wants the tape by 6pm on Friday, make sure you send it well before then; you don’t want to be the last to arrive at the party
  4. Unless the casting says otherwise, if there are action scenes in the script do not overplay them (i.e. keep your movements to a minimum)
  5. Even if your character is not speaking, keep the camera on you because the casting director wants to see how you react to another character

To watch a very useful webinar on making a self-tape, please see here.

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