Self taping is an increasingly popular audition tool that benefits both casting directors and actors. If you have the chance to self tape, take it!
Not only does self taping save you the time and expense associated with travelling to auditions but you can do it in the comfort of your own home, filming multiple takes to make sure the audition is perfect before the casting director sees it!
That said, there is an art to self taping. Knowing how to self tape properly can make the difference between getting the role and getting passed over. It’s an essential skill that is only going to become more important.
While we can’t teach you how to make the perfect self tape in this article, we can give you our top tips for making the most of the opportunity and making sure your tape makes the right impression!
Treat your self tape like an actual live audition.
You must approach your self tape with the same professionalism as you would an audition in person. The only difference between a self tape and a face to face casting is that you are putting yourself directly on tape rather than it being done by the casting director. Your tape will be seen by the same people and is just as important as if you were there in the room. Don’t cut corners!
Don’t stress about your camera type. Your self tape is about the quality of your acting not how good your camera equipment is. As long as you light, frame and focus your self tape competently, you don’t need to have a top of the range DSLR or the latest video recorder. Filming on a smart phone is absolutely fine.
We can’t stress this enough – make sure you are well lit. While the quality of your self tape isn’t the centre of attention, a casting director can’t cast you if they can’t see you! This means your tape shouldn’t be too dark or too bright! Shoot in a well lit room, preferably with natural light on your face so your features and expressions can be seen.
You are the star of your self tape so don’t give yourself any competition when it comes to the scenery. This isn’t the time to show off your feature wallpaper or skills with interior design. Find a plain wall or at least a backdrop that isn’t patterned or cluttered. A door or side of a wardrobe can work well if you don’t have a plain, light coloured wall.
Don’t dive straight in and start filming right away. You’ll be much more relaxed, confident and natural on camera if you have your lines learnt and your movements planned. Spend time preparing both your camera and the script and choose clothing that suits the character, just as you would for a face to face audition. Rehearse the scene off camera first, then practise in situ before finally setting the camera rolling. It’s amazing how things can change once the record button is on!
Don’t forget the all important idents at the start of your tape. Not only do these make it quick and easy for casting directors to check whose tape is whose, it is also the only glimpse of your real character that the casting team gets to see. Make sure your idents are confident and you allow your personality to shine.
If you look stressed on your self tape casting directors won’t feel confident that you can handle the pressure of being on set. Take some deep breaths and don’t worry about messing up – remember you can do as many takes as you want!
Resist the temptation to do hundreds of takes!
While it’s easy to try lots of different versions of a scene or to try “just one more” to get it exactly right, you are only making it harder for yourself when it comes to choosing what to send and editing.
This is an obvious one but in the moment it’s easy to forget to press record! Don’t miss that perfect take because you didn’t hit the button, or because you’re convinced that the 20th time’s the charm when it comes to practising. We did say to rehearse but you have to bite the bullet sometime!
Keep that battery charged!
You never know when you might get asked to do a self tape at the last minute or where you’ll be. Travel with your phone charger and check your camera battery regularly. You don’t need the stress of a dead battery when you’re self taping to a deadline.
We hope these tips stand you in good stead for your next self tape. Do let us know if they help! If you’d like some hands-on experience and in-person expert advice why not book a place on YAFTA’s self taping masterclass?
The Art of Self Taping is a 3 hour practical masterclass which will teach you all you need to know about this essential skill; filming, editing and uploading, and will make sure you impress every time.
For more info and to book visit www.yafta.co.uk/the-art-of-self-taping
See you on screen!