In-person auditions have largely halted in the past months leaving many actors self-taping in their living rooms with partners and roommates wondering when we’ll get back to the good old days of in-person auditioning. While no one knows for sure if or when in-person auditioning will return fully in its former model, we can empower ourselves in the meantime in learning how to translate our in-the-room energy onto our self-tapes.
When you sit watching a film or television show snuggled at home in your pajamas, you’re not in the room with any actor you’re watching on your screen and yet you can feel them. Their energy is impacting you. They’re using their voices, bodies, and intentions to tell a story and you’re feeling the weight and emotional ride of it. How often do you hold your breath when the character of the murderous villain appears behind the lead? Do you feel your heartbreak when the lost dog cannot be found and their young owner is hopeless? Does your heart beat fast when the high-speed chase is reaching its climax? None of these things are happening in your living room, but you’re energetically changed by what you’re watching.
Great acting will always change the energy of the watcher. Great actors can do this without a set full of people and that environment. We can watch Joaquin Phoenix in front of a green screen embodying a character and we feel all the same nuances and sensations as we would watching his final performance in the film. It’ll transform your self-tape practice and process to know you have within you that same power if only you trust and hone it.
Don’t let a self-tape be an excuse to not change the energy with your art. Even against a plain wall or backdrop, you can create magic. You can alchemize the feelings and energy of the casting director or producer watching your tape. If you fully commit to the story you’re serving as this character and allow yourself to fully transport into that mission, those watching you will feel it even through their screen.
We habitually seek explanations of why our work can’t be as great as we would like it to be. All of us have various excuses or reasons. For some of us, we don’t feel we have had enough time in the business. For others, we feel we don’t have the resources or technical know-how to make it look truly professional. Some of us sabotage based on our limiting beliefs and doubts about our gifts. If we can honor without judgment that every artist who ever lived faced their own set of limitations, we can stop focusing on them or even trying to fix or solve them and instead focus on expanding into our best artistic selves walking alongside those limitations hand in hand.
Elizabeth Gilbert in her wonderful book “Big Magic” says fear will always accompany her creativity so she doesn’t try to get rid of it. She allows it to come along for the ride. She doesn’t wait until fear is gone because she knows it never will be. She brings it along, she just doesn’t allow it to sit up front or choose the music for the road trip.
If self-taping feels limiting to your artistry, or if you feel you cannot possibly show up on a self-tape as fully and authentically as you do in the room, then this is simply the limitation showing up for you that you get to bring on your artistic road trip as you continue down the road of your own greatness. Enjoy the ride. Take in the scenery. There will be many more potholes and pitstops along the way. They don’t mean you have failed or done something wrong. They mean you’re brave enough to stay on the road and so they’re the necessary byproducts of your grand adventure.
Even during this trying time we can see each audition, self-tape, Zoom audition, or opportunity as an experiment in joyriding. Train, tape, and play at the level of the professionals you see before you and soon you too will be on that road.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.