Whether you’re out of town, on another job (yay!), or the casting director simply has no time to see you, self-taping can be a great way to be considered for a role that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to audition for. Sadly, many of the self-tapes that I receive are virtually unusable due to mistakes that can (for the most part) be easily corrected.
1. Watch your audition before you send it!! Think of yourself as the producer who is watching and imagining you on their TV show or in their film. This is the ballpark we’re aiming for. Although you won’t have the same quality camera or lighting that you would in a professional setting, you should try to make it look as good as possible.
2. Do a test shot to see how you look. When you sit too close to the recording device, your face looks slightly distorted. A good general guide is to frame yourself from your hips/waist up if it’s a comedy and a bit closer (from your waist/top-ribs up) if it’s a drama. There shouldn’t be much discernible space above your head – the frame should ideally sit at or near the top of your crown. I can’t begin to count the number of self-tapes I get where the actor is at the bottom third of the screen! Try to give us a straight-on image, not angled up or angled down. If someone else is manning the camera, this will be much easier, but do the best that you can. Give us one standing full-body (or as much of yourself as you can get in there) shot and tell us your height so that we’ll have an accurate image of what you look like.
3. Please try to avoid reading with yourself, using a recorder to recite the other role back to you. It’s distracting, a bit odd, and the timing on those solo-recorded auditions can be a painful thing to watch! There’s usually a friend within pleading distance that you can ask. Of course we always prefer that you have a competent actor reading with you, but anyone is better than no one!
4. If possible, do your audition against a plain wall or a place that isn’t so distracting that we’re reading the book titles on the shelf!
5. Do two different takes If you’re uncertain about the tone of a scene, but post your favorite one first.
6. Your reading should be so honest that we feel like voyeurs watching you. Keep your volume in the correct, organic place for the space and the scene. It shouldn’t seem like you’re “performing” for us, except in the rare case where that’s what’s required.
I see more actors get jobs through self-taping these days than ever before...take the time to do it the right way and hopefully you’ll be one of them!
Marci Phillips is the Executive Director of ABC Casting. The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to Marci Phillips and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of ABC, Disney or any of its subsidiaries. Marci is the author of “The Present Actor – A Practical and Spiritual Guideline to Help You Enjoy the Ride” available on Amazon.com.