audition

7 Tips for a Perfect Self Tape

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.

Acting Audition

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.

Dress appropriately

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.

Follow up!

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.

4 Essential Poses for Actor Headshots

Every actor needs headshots, and often it’s a good idea to have more than one look or pose. But which poses?

Headshot
When getting your headshots done, it is very important to be aware of your everyday look, your “types” for future auditions, and the goal behind getting these photos taken in the first place. Headshots can be expensive, but they’re worth every penny if you get them done right.

First and foremost, make sure you sleep well the night before your photo shoot, and make sure you arrive early enough to be fully relaxed and ready to shine!

Headshot

Poses will vary depending on what you want to play and the career you are targeting. But the following essentials are some go-to poses that may help you get more auditions:

  1. A smiling pose: It is key that you genuinely smile for at least one of your poses. If smiling doesn’t come naturally to you, make yourself as comfortable and relaxed as possible. If it helps you to lean casually against a wall, or stand on your toes, do it! And remember: smile with your entire body!
  2. An everyday pose: Usually when someone tells you to “act casual” you struggle to do anything but. However your casual, everyday pose — the look you might have if someone saw you lost in thought or reading your phone — says a lot about you and your screen presence.
  3. An emotional pose: Explore what you know is your most challenging emotion. Treat your photo session as it’s an audition, or even a scene, and don’t hold back. Feel free to be vulnerable, loud, and truthful. Even if you don’t think this will play well for photo stills, there’s a very good chance a talented photographer will capture a few perfect moments for you. Get intimate with the lens.
  4. A neutral pose: A neutral pose is what it sounds like — a resting, unemotional look. You might think this is the same as your everyday look, but for most people, the two poses can be very different. Unlike your everyday pose, which is you out of your own head and acting naturally, a neutral pose usually means you’ll need to actively contort your muscles and cancel any emotions on your face. Become a blank slate that casting directors can fill with their own ideas for the role. Remember: neutral doesn’t mean natural!

Headshot

There are countless expressions that fall on the spectrum between these poses (and many  that are completely out-of-the-box.) Explore them all, practice in the mirror until your face is numb and you’re sick of looking at your face. The work will pay off and soon acting for your headshot photographer may just turn into acting for a film or stage director!

If you’re interested in taking classes at NYFA’s acting school you can find more information here.