Are you ready to start self-taping for your auditions?
All new actors need to go to a taping studio when you first start self-taping, to fully understand how it should be done. We also recommend having an acting coach help you until you feel confident that you can give a great audition on your own.
Now that you feel that you are ready to do your own self-tapes at home, let’s talk about what you need to know about self-tape submissions.
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Here Is How You Should Self-Tape
1. Don’t shoot vertically:
All self-tapes should be shot horizontally. No exceptions.
2. Don’t stand too far away:
Casting should be able to see your face, eyes, and expression. Don’t shoot too close or too far. Get it just right and shoot from the waist up. Here are screenshots of a few of our talent’s self-tapes so you can get a feel for the framing and background.
3. Do the full-body pan:
When casting asks for a full-body shot, &ldqou;[they] don’t want to see your head and then chest and then legs and then shoes. They want the camera to get the entire person in the frame at one time.”
4. Don’t have a distracting background:
I can’t tell you how many self-tapes I’ve seen that are shot in front of closets, in a bathroom, or cluttered kitchen, etc. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS. A self-tape should be filmed in front of a blank wall of neutral color, like green or blue. They want to be looking at you, not trying to figure out what’s hanging behind your head. If you use a sheet, please iron it. Buy simple backgrounds on Amazon for $15 here.
5. Do have great lighting and sound:
Invest in a simple lighting kit. Add a mic to your iPhone or digital camera. Watch out for background noise from traffic, lawn mowers, and barking dogs. Your phone is great to tape on but make sure you have great sound. Make sure your lighting makes you look good. Here is a set up from one of our actors. They got this on Amazon for under $150 background, lights, and stands.
If you are taping on your phone and you need better sound, check out this Rode VideoMic Microphone for Smart Phones.
Looking for a microphone for your DSLR camera? Check out Rode VMGO Video Mic.
You can use a smartphone to tape yourself, but make sure to use a tripod so the camera is stable.
6. Don’t use a bad reader:
Pick a reader who’s a good actor with great diction. Even though you’re the one auditioning, their bad reading will bring the tape down. Make sure your reader stands to the immediate right or left of the camera, and brings their volume down a bit. This will put your eye line close to the camera lens without looking directly into it so casting can see your expressions. Make sure the reader is not louder than you.
7. Do dress appropriately:
Wear solid, bright colors. Avoid white (it reflects too much). It’s more memorable to be in sapphire blue, fuschia pink, yellow, or emerald green as opposed to dull gray, beige, or black. No hats, crazy makeup, excessive patterns, or flashy jewelry, as it can be very, very distracting. Dress to suggest the character. You don’t need to buy a space suit if you’re reading for an astronaut, but you also shouldn’t be wearing shorts and a tank top for an office manager. For example, it would be appropriate for a lawyer to wear a suit, an undercover cop in a leather jacket, or a Washington socialite in a cocktail dress. For women, wear makeup (no red or dark lipstick or heavy eyeliner – keep it natural), and definitely style your hair.
8. Do send small files:
If your file is too large, then we cannot upload it.
9. Do follow all instructions:
Please read everything. Make sure the dates work for you. Make sure you do everything they ask, including how to label your video. If you need to hold a sign, please do it. If instructions ask you to send in this info with your video, please do send it all in one email. PLEASE READ ALL INSTRUCTIONS. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.
10. Do memorize the script
It’s paramount that you give your best performance and not what appears to be a cold read on video. This first impression is all you get! Don’t hold the script. You will eventually look down or away, losing focus while you check a line. They’ll assume that you’re a beginner and/or aren’t prepared. They are not looking for someone who is a good reader or even good at memorizing a script. Casting wants someone to become the character that they are looking for. Be prepared by knowing the material so your focus can be on giving a winning performance.
11. Don’t go crazy with post-production
The more you do, the more it can distract from YOU. Dissolving between scenes is fine. Just don’t throw in a lot of cutting between shots, a music bed, or special effects. We just want to see you! Don’t do long titles at the start of your tape. Casting directors have a lot of tapes to go through and you only have their attention for a short amount of time. Don’t waste that time on a title.
Remember self-submissions can be a gift to you as an actor. Take advantage of this. Do it as many times as you need to get it right. Follow these basics and your self-tape submissions will get you noticed!
Visit our resource page for a list of taping services and acting coaches.