Okeeeee. So, I’m relatively new to the film world. I don’t know all the things. But over the past 3 years, I’ve had to send in a bunch of self-tape auditions and I’ve learn a few hacks that I wanna share with you, because—let’s face it—self-tapes are the way of the future. So many more theatres are accepting tape auditions, and 95% of the film auditions I’m sent are not in person.
I used to HATE self-tapes. In fact, I got to a point where I just wouldn’t send anything in because I would pick myself apart. I lost out on a lot of opportunities. It’s a part of the industry that we’ve got to figure out how to rock. And now I can say that I’ve grown really confident in watching myself in a really healthy way. If you wanna learn more about how you can feel better about watching yourself, I’ve broken it all down here: How To Feel Good About Your Audition Everytime. Read that one first, and come back here :)
I think this is the number one thing that stops me from sending something in. It’s lame, but the thought of setting all the stuff up, just makes me wanna groan. So, the best thing you can do is streamline this baby, so it’s the same every time. I keep my gear in my closet in my room and I remove a picture on the wall and my laundry baskets right next to it. It’s all right there and ready to go whenever I need to.
Make it so you can send a self-tape in by yourself and that you’re not sitting there waiting for your roommate, or your spouse, or your child (yes, I’ve had my child read with me for an audition before) to tape you. That you can do it completely independent of everyone-on your own time. You’re more likely to do it quickly and efficiently and not get in your head. The film world works quickly. Most auditions you receive are due the next morning or in a couple days. So just getting it off so that you’re considered is so important. As my high school theatre teacher always said, “The world belongs to those that show up.” So freaking true. So, lemme let you in on a few of my little secrets:
A tripod with ring light attached WITH a bluetooth remote. This will save you so much time and effort. This is the one I have. It’s cheap and awesome.
The ring light will allow you to film any time of day, and will also give more contrast and pop to your video. I think also the mere fact that you filmed with a light will stand out to casting that you care and are investing in your audition. It’s the extra effort that counts. The remote is the most important part of this thing. For me, not having to edit videos with my hand touching the record button before and after takes out that extra step that makes self-tapes so daunting.
Tape your script to your camera set-up. This will help you keep your head up and not buried in your script.
Make sure you set up your backdrop to be free of clutter and a solid color. Babies can film at your feet, as long as they’re quiet :) hiiiiii, Poppy!
Here’s what my set up looks like:
I find it so much easier to get into the part and visualize myself as the part if I make a few, simple, deliberate choices about my wardrobe. For example, last week I auditioned for 3 separate parts in 1 movie. I did these back to back (cuz I love me some batch-work) But I made some simple wardrobe changes to help the directors see me slip easily into their project. I’d already done my hair and makeup for the day, so I started with my most polished look first and broke it down from there—as I was heading into my jammies directly after this. The other method would be to start with your most natural look first and build your makeup from there. Here’s what that looked like:
**Pay attention to these descriptor words and ages that you get sent out for. Keep a list! This is how your agency sees you!
Highlight your parts, as I am doing these as a fairly cold read, so it’s nice to add some clarity.
Read over the descriptions of the characters.
Read all the instructions from the casting call. For example, this one wanted a full body slate (saying your name and agency) as well. I would have totally missed that otherwise-it’s a rare ask.
Markup difficult phrases. On long sentences, mark where you’d like to breathe. If a company name is mentioned (mostly for commericals) make sure you’ve got this DOWN and clear and with a kind of melody to it. This will be very important to their company! Circle description words you want to put more emphasis on and color the phrases with. Underline phrases that give you difficulty so when you get to it you remember to slow down and take more care with it.
Look up pronunciation of any words you’re not sure about.
Some last hacks!
Always film horizontally, or landscape.
Slow down your read! Unless they specifically ask for a snappy read. Be deliberate and slower.
Great connection with the lens is KEY.
Close the door and run a fan outside your door if you need to get rid of extra noise.
Warm up your voice.
Props can be helpful.
If you need to splice things together, a really easy way to do that is to edit on iMovie on your phone. Like, when they asked for a full body slate-I didn’t want to send two videos, so I spliced it at the end of my read. Seamless, took of less of their time, less files to get lost, and was super quick and easy to put together.
If you need to send a downloadable link-which most will want—don’t upload to YouTube. Use wetransfer.com It’s free and quick.
If you don’t have someone to read with you, just skip over their lines but still keep the reactions to what their lines would have been in there. They’re some of the most important parts-not just your lines.
Rename your video how they specify. Usually some combination of your name/character name/agency.
My BEST takes are usually my first—after I name a couple things I love about myself. You think it’s goony, but it’s true. We get in our heads. The self-tapes I book, I usually haven’t even gone back and watched again before I sent. If I mess up a word or phrasing, I film again. But most the time, I treat it like an in person audition. Do all my prep, trust myself, and send it out to the universe.
Click send with confidence! You may never hear anything back. And that’s ok. The second I realized that I may not be right for every part and I can’t completely transform myself in every audition the happier I was. If you match the vision-great! If you don’t, it probably had nothing to do with your abilities. More likely, it’s your color of hair, or someone else that’s already cast that you don’t fit with, or height, or something else you can’t control. Don’t sweat it. There’s always more where that came from!
Love these audition tips?