In the evolving landscape of the entertainment industry, mastering the art of the self tape audition has become an essential skill for actors. With casting directors and production teams often spread across different locations, self-taping provides a convenient method for performers to showcase their talent from anywhere in the world. It’s a simple yet effective way to audition for a role without having to be in the same room as the casting team.

How to Do a Self Tape Audition 01

Level: Beginner

Reading Time: 5 minutes

To successfully execute a self-tape audition, you need to ensure high-quality video and audio that allows your performance to shine through. This means setting up a space with good lighting, a neutral background, and a camera positioned at eye level to simulate the perspective of an in-person audition. A good self-tape should focus on conveying emotion and storytelling without being overshadowed by technical issues.

Understanding the technical aspects is just one piece of the puzzle; delivering a compelling performance is ultimately what will make your audition stand out. It’s crucial to prepare your material thoroughly, understanding the character and the scene you’re portraying. This preparation goes hand in hand with your ability to follow any specific instructions provided by the casting director, which may include slating your name and the role at the beginning of the tape. Be aware that each self-tape is an opportunity to demonstrate not only your acting abilities but also your professionalism and attention to detail.

Setting Up Your Space

Setting Up Your Space for Self Taping Auditions

When preparing for a self-tape audition, creating the right environment is crucial. The space you select and how you arrange it can substantially affect the quality of your tape. Here’s how to ensure your setup will showcase your talent in the best light.

Choosing the Right Background

Your background should be neutral and non-distracting. Opt for a plain wall, ideally in a solid color like light grey or blue. If you don’t have a suitable wall, use a professional backdrop. The focus should be on you, not the environment.

Lighting and Camera Placement

Lighting can make or break your self-tape. Place your camera so it faces you, with a source of natural light in front of you, or use soft artificial lights. Your camera or smartphone should be anchored on a tripod at eye level. Always shoot in horizontal format to utilize the frame effectively.

Sound and Microphone Use

Good sound quality is non-negotiable. Minimize background noise by choosing a quiet space. If your device’s built-in microphone isn’t enough, consider an external mic to ensure your voice is clear and comprehensible.

Proper Attire for Self-Tape Auditions

Dress as you would for an in-person audition. Choose clothing that is in solid colors and complements your tone. Avoid patterns or logos that can distract from your performance.

Ensuring a Distraction-Free Environment

Remove any items that could take attention away from your performance. Inform others in the vicinity to keep noise to a minimum. The spotlight should be on you, without any interruptions.

Self Tape Audition Equipment Essentials

You don’t need high-end gear, but a few essentials will improve the quality of your self-tape:

  • Smartphone or DSLR camera: Your smartphone is often enough, but upgrade to a DSLR for higher quality.
  • Tripod: A stable shot is essential. Use a tripod to hold your camera steady.
  • Lights: Softbox lights or LED panels provide good lighting. Use them if natural light isn’t sufficient.
  • Microphone: An external mic can greatly enhance sound quality.
  • Computer: For editing and submitting your self-tape, you will need a computer with the necessary software.

Performance and Recording Tips

Your self-tape audition is an opportunity to showcase your talent and determination for the role. The following tips focus on enhancing your performance and recording quality to make a compelling impression on casting directors.

Framing Your Shot

Framing is crucial in self-tapes. Set your camera on a tripod or stable surface, ensuring it’s at eye level. Your frame should be a medium close-up (from the chest up), which allows the viewer to see your facial expressions clearly while giving a sense of your upper body language. Leave a little space above your head in the frame to avoid a claustrophobic feel.

Understanding the Role

Grasp the character’s essence and the project’s tone. Reflect your understanding in your performance by delivering bold choices that align with the character’s motivations and the story’s context. This demonstration of believability and commitment can set you apart from other performers.

Engaging with the Camera

Maintain proper eye contact with the camera, as it serves as your connection to the audience. However, when your eyeline needs to match with other characters, place something near the camera to focus on. Pace your dialogue naturally; allow your performance to breathe, ensuring emotions feel authentic and not rushed.

Working with Sides and Scripts

Have your sides well-rehearsed but keep them handy in case you need to reference them. It’s preferable to have lines memorized to maintain a smooth flow, which also helps in maintaining eye contact with the camera or your eyeline.

Interacting with Your Reader

If your scene includes other characters, involve a reader off-camera for interactions. Direct your lines to the reader, placing them close to the camera so your eyelines match the scene’s context. Ensure your reader delivers lines with enough volume for a clear audio track without overpowering your own performance.

Post-Recording Process

Post-Recording Process
Straight Up (2020)

Once you have recorded your self-tape, the next steps involve refining the footage to ensure it meets the audition requirements and showcases your performance effectively.

Editing Your Self-Tape

After recording, your priority should be editing your self-tape. This means selecting the best take that represents your abilities. Use editing software like iMovie or a similar program to make cuts and trim out any unnecessary parts from the beginning or end of your scenes. It’s important to adhere to any deadline provided, so manage your editing time efficiently.

Selecting and Reviewing Takes

Review all your takes thoroughly. Look for the take where your performance is at its most compelling. Pay close attention to nuances like emotional expression, timing, and how you interact with the camera. Evaluate each take against the audition brief to ensure it aligns with what the casting directors are seeking.

Adding Identifying Information

The final step before submission is to add your identifying information. A slate or ident is typically requested at the beginning or end of your self-tape. Here, state your name, the role you’re auditioning for, and show your profile from both sides. Ensure your contact information and a headshot are easily visible. This can often be overlaid in your video during the editing phase.

Submission and Follow-Up Strategies

Once your self-tape is ready, the submission process and post-submission follow-up are essential steps. Adhering strictly to submission guidelines, maintaining professional communication with casting directors, and actively seeking feedback are critical for success.

Adhering to Submission Guidelines

Before submitting, review the submission guidelines carefully to ensure your audition is considered. Common requirements include:

  • Format: Your file should be in an accepted format—usually MP4 or MOV.
  • Naming Convention: Name your file as specified, often including your name and role.
  • Deadline: Submit your audition before the given deadline to show professionalism and time management.

Use an online platform like WeTransfer or Dropbox to upload your video as instructed, ensuring you receive a confirmation of submission.

Professional Communication with Casting

Send a concise and polite email to the casting director after submitting your self-tape. This confirms receipt and demonstrates your professionalism. Keep communication brief and to the point.

Example Email:

Subject: Self-Tape Submission - [Your Name] for [Role]

Dear [Casting Director's Name],

I wanted to confirm the receipt of my self-tape for [Role], submitted via [Submission Method] on [Date]. Please do not hesitate to reach out if any additional information or material is needed.

Thank you for considering my audition.

Best regards,
[Your Full Name]

Gathering Feedback and Continuing to Improve

Whether or not you secure the role, feedback can be invaluable. Politely request feedback from the casting director if you haven’t heard back in a while. This can be done during a follow-up and show your commitment to improvement.

Consider coaching to refine your self-taping skills. Consistently seeking constructive criticism will better your performance for future auditions.

Remember, the self-tape submission process is just as important as the performance itself, so conduct yourself with diligence and respect every step of the way.

Read The Next Lesson (Audition Preparation): Choosing the Right Outfit for an Audition

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