How to Film an Ident for Auditions

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Any actor needs to know how to create an ident, also known as a slate. Think of it as a way to introduce yourself—and your personal brand—to casting directors and employers. Get it right, and you’ll be ready to knock their socks off; get it wrong, and maybe it might be time to consider bartending as a long-term career option.

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What is an ident?

Ident

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An ident is the portion of the audition process in which an actor introduces themself directly to camera; casting agents use it as a way to organize their footage. Though this seems relatively straightforward, it’s also an opportunity for you to set the tone for the rest of the audition.

Your ident is the first thing casting directors will see you do, whether you’re trying out in person, over Zoom, or via self-tape. You’ll be asked to say your name and the name of your agent. (If you don’t have one, simply say, “self-represented.”) The CD may also ask you to state your age, height, and the role you’re auditioning for.

What should you include in an ident?

Ident

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The casting team will likely guide you through the process by prompting you with questions. That said, it’s a good idea to know what to expect ahead of time so you appear professional.

For film, TV, and commercial work, you’ll be asked to give your name and your agent’s name. The cameraperson will film a full-body shot; stand still and look straight down the lens, avoiding turning toward the person who’s prompting you off-camera. 

The CD may also ask you to share a bit of background information; this section is known as the “about me.” Keep it short and focused on your work, and be polite and honest.

If you’re auditioning for an ad, the team may also film you in profile. If the commercial involves a close-up of you holding the product, the CD might ask you to show both sides of your hands to the camera. All of this will be framed as a medium shot.

Commercial CDs may also inquire about: 

  • Your availability
  • Where you’re based
  • Whether you’ve appeared in ads for a competing product (if you’re already the face of one toilet roll brand, they won’t want you to be the face of theirs!)
  • If it’s a food ad, whether you have any allergies

Be truthful in all your answers. If you treat the casting director respectfully, there’s a good chance they’ll call you in for another job even if this one isn’t for you.

Why are idents important?

Film audition ident

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This is the only moment in the audition process when you’re showcasing yourself instead of performing in character. It might sound ridiculous, but it’s a good idea to think about your delivery of this basic information. The work of persuading a CD that you’re right for the part—whether it’s a bloodsucking vampire, Victorian street urchin, or something else entirely—starts the moment you walk into the room. First impressions count, and that starts with the ident.

How to film your own ident

Ident

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If you’re submitting a self-tape, the ident is part of that. Film yourself in landscape instead of portrait. Even though it might seem easier to shoot a full-length body shot, don’t do it—it’s guaranteed to irritate a busy CD.

Read any audition instructions carefully to make sure you’re giving the casting team what they want. This might be your thousandth self-tape, but always check the details—every job is different. And don’t be afraid to ask the CD any questions you may have before submitting your self-tape.

Don’t assume you have to be a one-shot wonder. Just as with the audition piece itself, you can do multiple takes of your ident until you’re happy with it; that said, don’t spend too much time on it. 

Most casting directors won’t mind if you submit your ident, full-length body shot, and audition piece as separate clips. But if you’re concerned, you can splice them together using basic video-editing software like iMovie.

If you’re auditioning over Zoom, make a plan ahead of time as to how you’ll transition from your ident to your audition—the former a midshot framing your head and shoulders, the latter a full-body shot. Make sure you have enough room to do both in a flexible, well-lit space.

For more advice on filming a self-tape, check out our guide to the process. And good luck!