Times have changed. Covid-19 has affected how everyone does education. And one of the biggest changes - and perhaps something that might stay for a lot longer, is that drama schools are doing the first round of their auditions via recordings - just as they often have for international applications before. 

This perhaps gives you more control of your drama school audition than ever before. But perhaps you’re new to recording your performances and you need some help with how to think about recording your drama school audition. 

Here’s my top tips for recording your drama school audition. 

  1. GET INTIMATE WITH THE CAMERA: Shoot it like it’s a film and play it like it’s film. The camera makes things like very over the top, remember the camera reaches into your soul and sees your thoughts, so don’t be afraid to keep your performance less theatrical and more intimate. But don’t play small - real people aren’t small, you just don’t need to patronise the camera by showing it how you feel, it sees how you feel well enough. 

  1. HAVE YOU EVER WATCHED A FILM IN PORTRAIT MODE? Self tape should usually be in landscape and not portrait orientation. This will also prevent you from looking like a little person in a giant shot. (Look at how much of the frame you take up. Usually they want a medium shot (which is terrible - but they like it for some reason) So change it to landscape and film from your belly button upwards. 

  1. EYELINE: Put the camera at the same level as your eyes. Any lower and you will look like a giant and it’s quite unflattering. Any higher and you’ll look small and powerless. 

  1. COME CLOSER: Even if they want a medium shot, you can play with coming closer to the camera. This will help you to have intense moments but keep them reasonably small so as not to seem overly theatrical. 

  1. BACKGROUND: Find a single continuous wall without any features as your background, white or blue are best.

  1. ECHO REDUCTION: If your room is really echoing - try to put rugs down on the floor or hang large items of clothing around the room to reduce the amount of echo. 

  1. LABELS: Don’t forget to label the file with your full name. Too many people have labelled themselves as 1080p in the past or some weird random letter and number combination. Make it easier for them. 

  1. IDENT: Introduce yourself and the piece slowly and confidently. Don’t rush it. It’s still part of the audition - it’s the first moment when they get to know you and don’t waste it!

  1. ENLIGHTENING: Try to use natural light if you can, preferably on the front or side of your face. Don’t ever have a light source (eg window) behind you. That’s strictly for amateurs. If you need to use other light, try to avoid amber light bulbs, they make skin turn orange and distort skin tones and clothing colours. 

  1. TAKES: Do multiple takes, but don’t spend forever doing so many that you can’t choose. Even with the chance to reshoot, there will not be a perfect take. 

Well, I hope that helps and get in touch with us if you think we can help you prepare for your next drama school audition. 


Mark Westbrook is an Acting Coach and the Head of the Acting Programmes at Acting Coach Scotland. 


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