Self-tapes are what many actors and casting directors refer to when an audition is done through digital casting–rather than trying out in person, performers submit video of their audition. For some actors, this can be more daunting than an in-person audition while for others, it can be less stressful. In either case, it’s important to remember some tried and true tips, including the following:
Read everything you’re given
Depending on the production and the script, specific details can be including in a casting notice to help the actor, including information related to text analysis questions: who, what, where, when, and why?
Highlight the parts you will be trying out for and circle any important verbs or words to stress or overplay. Throughout your sides, focus all attention on any physical details put in by the writer. If none are present, make bold choices and be a risk-taker.
Find a reader
Teamwork can be key to success for self-tapes. Ask a fellow classmate or friend for help, feeding you lines and handling the camera while you focus on performance. Acting with a partner can help you disappear more into the scene.
But it’s okay if you can’t
However, if no friend, classmate, or teacher can be found, rehearse the scene a few times on your own before you turn the camera on, and then record at least three different takes, including different acting choices if possible. This will give you options to choose from when sending out the tape. Even if you can’t get feedback in the moment, feel free to send the footage to a trusted friend or colleague for notes before sending out the final version to casting.
Don’t forget to slate
In the process of recording a self-tape audition, it is expected to slate, which means introduce yourself. Be natural when giving your name and contact information, and be clear so if your performance goes well, you will already have made a memorable impression. Shift down your head at the end of your slate for a small pause to transition from your introduction to the scene itself.
Act for film
Unlike an in person audition, you will need to do a little self-directing for the camera. Find your mark on the floor (use tape if necessary) to make sure you are standing where you need to be in frame. You can put tape on the wall or a piece of paper behind the camera as well to provide yourself an eyeline.
Make sure the most important thing we see in the video is you, ideally in front of a plain wall to avoid visual distraction.
This doesn’t mean renting out a Victorian corset if it’s a period piece, but make sure what you are wearing isn’t distracting from the performance, in the same vein as the background behind you. Avoid any flashy colors, patterns, logos of any sorts or any shapes of forms. Less is more like when walking in for a live audition. Make up as well should be a minimum except if the role demands more. The less external distractions there are, the more casting will focus on you and your performance.
Finally, the follow up on these auditions is just as important as any other job interview. Be clear and concise in your emails or voicemails, following up a few days after submitting your tape. You won’t come off as needy or desperate–following up is standard procedure and will make sure you weren’t forgotten or lost in the shuffle.
Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here.