Self-tapes are a blessing yet they come with their own set of problems for actors, mainly technical and over-analysing performances (which can be self-tape killers). Self-tapes are the next step after seeing your headshot, so it’s crucial that you get it right, as everything you do is a reflection of yourself and your brand.
Having helped numerous actors send self-tapes and being on the receiving end of them I have seen it all. My only wish is that every actor would get help with the things they struggle with. If you know you get yourself in a pickle or have been sending off lots of self-tapes with little results then this blog is my gift to you. How to succeed with self-tape auditions will be beneficial to you in getting that all important re-call and upping your game.
Before we discover how to succeed with self-tapes auditions, let’s take a quick look at what holds actors back
- Not knowing the technicalities of self-tapes
- Over analysing and losing confidence in performances
- Rushing a self-tape to meet the deadline
- Lack of preparation
- Too much noise (in more than just the sound sense)
How to succeed with self-tape auditions
- Prepare for a self-tape the way you would prepare for a role had you already booked it. Make clear choices; wishy washy generalisations don’t get you re-called, and whatever you do make sure you don’t sound like you’re reading lines; learn them so you can focus on working moment to moment.
- Make sure you can be seen and heard… clearly. There shouldn’t be any visual and auditory noise. A plain background that doesn’t distract is perfect. For great lighting it is always best to go for natural light shining on you, which will illuminate you beautifully. Recording in a room where there is as little noise as possible is a good plan. Remember all the focus should be on YOU, not your lovely floral wallpaper or the washing machine buzzing in the background. Please speak up if you know your equipment isn’t great at catching the sound or if you know you have received notes from your acting coach on projection.
- Shoot in mid to close up so the casting director can see what is going on in your eyes and get a better look at you. As I said earlier, self-tapes are the next natural step after seeing your headshot. so it’s critical they can see you.
- Have a couple of rehearsals before you go for a take to relax yourself into the role, and to make sure you’re comfortable with the choices you’ve made. This is your time to iron out any issues and get comfortable in front of the camera.
- Make sure you know where the edge of frame is so you don’t suddenly end up disappearing out of shot. Remember it is all about YOU, your casting director needs to see you.
- Don’t look directly into the lens, the same way you wouldn’t if you were shooting a film or television series. Choose a focul spot for your eye line, either to the left or right of the camera.
- If the scene is a duologue, make sure you grab a reader. Whatever you do DON’T read both parts. Your reader should be someone who knows what they are doing. Asking your acting coach to read for you is a great idea as they can also help you with your craft at the same time. Your reader should never be seen. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s all about YOU.
- When slating (as it’s called in the US – ident in the UK) you will usually be given instructions from the casting department, please follow what they ask you to do. If they don’t specify, slate separately making sure your profile is seen and your full body is in shot. You will also need to introduce yourself and the role you are reading for.
If you follow these steps you will improve your chances of getting re-called. Once you get into the swing of self-tapes, like anything else they will become easier and easier until they feel like second nature.
If you’re still feeling a little unsure practise self-tapes using the 8 steps above, so when you’re asked to self-tape for real you feel much more confident.
What resonated with you? Let me know in the comments box below, or share with your acting friends, it could be just the thing they need!
Here’s to your success!
Don’t give up, just keep learning.
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Louise O’Leary is a professional actress, method acting coach and Artistic Director of StandBy Method Acting Studio. Her mission is to help as many actors as she can achieve their acting dreams and become the best actor they can be. Join the hundreds of actors around the world who have downloaded her eBook “Respect your craft, discover my top 45 method acting secrets to launch your career“. Download here and be on your way to acting success today!
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