The casting process has taken a massive shift from physical auditions to self-tapes that are sent via email to the production team. Self taping involves you, the actor/actress, recording a short video of yourself for audition purposes. Your audition tape is your elevator pitch. It’s your chance to get your foot in the door.
You've probably sent out a couple of tapes, but you might not have gotten positive feedback yet. Could your self-tapes be falling short of the casting director’s standards? In this guide, we discuss some of the things you might be doing that leaves the wrong impression.
• Unpreparedness - shooting your self-tape while you have not rehearsed is a recipe for disaster. You will find yourself fumbling to find the correct words. Get the lines right, make some strong choices and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
• Shooting too close or too far - Your audience should see your eyes, face, and expression. Do not film while you're standing too near or too far from the recording device. Always shoot from your waist up. (If the brief asks, you may need to do a full shot in the slate)
• Background - a cluttered background is quite distracting. You don't want your audience to lose their focus on you. While self-taping for auditions, choose a neutral background, preferably a wall, but you can buy coloured cloths for this purpose.
• Yelling - You should be able to show your character's emotion without trying too hard. For example, if you do not know how to express anger well. Yelling does not constitute anger. It will come across as too much on camera.
• Dressing - choose clothing that help suggest the character in subtle ways. Don’t dress as a nun. Do not overdress or underdress (definitely don’t UNdress). Do not wear white clothes, or patterns, or stripes - stick to solid colours. Ask a friend to help you to choose the right clothes.
• Poor sound and lighting - Your short film needs to be audible and clear. Do not film your self-tape audition in a busy, crowded place. You can film it outside or buy lighting equipment. Also, invest in a good mic - terrible sound is unforgivable.
• Shooting - if you shoot your tape vertically, your expressions will not be seen clearly. Your self-tapes should always be shot horizontally.
‘’Why should we choose you?' this is the question the casting director asks every time they watch your self-tape. By avoiding the mistakes above while self-taping, you have a better chance of winning them over and finally get that positive feedback you have been longing. Remember, your self-tape audition is your ‘elevator pitch'.
Don’t let the quality of your self tape deter you from making your audition a huge success. Let us help you ensure that the quality, sound, making, and lighting of your self tape auditions are top-notch!
To You, The Best
Mark Westbrook is the author of A Guide to Self Taping Success.