TLDR: Self-tapes can be annoying or they can be fun-up to you. You’ll enjoy acting more & book more work if you have fun with it and make it professional!!!
- It’s a self-tape. At the end of the day, traditionally, you need some kind of device to film you, a tripod, some kind of lighting that makes you appear somewhat like yourself, a blank wall/backdrop, two copies of your sides, and another human being to act with. YOU NEED THESE THINGS. I’ve done self-tapes without all of those things as well multiple times, but if you actually want a decent self-tape, it requires these things. So figure it out. I have a cute little “creative space” nook that has two big windows and I’ve left the third wall completely blank. I have a stool and mutiple chairs and a stack of boxes where I place my tiny little tripod-attached to my old iphone (camera device)-directly on top (adjust number of boxes accordingly). The one major thing that I’m usually lacking is another human being. Eventually my nook is going to be upgraded with a real tripod, a fancy camera, a ring light/professional lights with those umbrella-thingies, a few different colored papers/backdrops, a sweet-ass microphone, soundproofing capabilities, and a desktop Mac with all the latest photo/video editing capabilities…oh, and a bomb-ass bean bag chair. (s/o to Emily and Conner for bean bag inspo!!! I’m on the hunt for a good one!)
- It’s an audition. You have to be prepared for an audition. That means, read your freaking sides, memorize your freaking sides, learn wtf is happening in the scene, what’s your relationship to the other character, blah blah blah. Do your homework. Your “reader” shouldn’t be doing all of your homework with you. If they are a good friend & willing to work with you through all of that-s/o to them. But no one should ever expect someone to do all that with them. I would definitely consider asking a friend/partner to help you “read” or “rehearse” as a separate favor from the “help me record an audition RQ” favor. This also means deciding what you’re going to wear and how you’re going to do your hair/make up beforehand, if that matters. Separate. Favor. All of these things can take some time.
- It an audition! Auditions are good things-things to be celebrated and appreciated! I have a tendency to dread auditions. It’s starting to grow on me, though. In this industry, especially if you’re new to film, I think you have to learn to love auditioning. Coming from a theatre background (where I worked with a lot of the same people) I didn’t have to audition very much & I was never really excited for my auditions…unless I actually took the time to prepare a fun bomb-ass monologue. Sometimes monologue auditions are just so much freaking fun. Anyway, the reality of this industry is that, as an actor, you’re going to have to audition a lot. In fact, that’s your job. Your JOB, as an actor, is to audition. And audition. And audition. Charles Howerton (s/o to Charles-what a talent & joy to work with!!! <3) told me that at a hysterical staged reading of (the hilarious and extraordinarily well-written) The Five Dollar Shakespeare Company By Matthew Leavitt (s/o to Matthew Leavitt for inviting me into your theatre family and trusting me with your art) at Theatre 68 in North Hollywood (also s/o to Jamie Zwick for thinking of me for that project & getting to work with you again!!) Learn to love auditioning because, whether its a theatrical monologue for your favorite show or a self-tape of sides for an unpaid-student film, it’s an opportunity to act! Which is great, cuz that’s what we love to do right?!
- Don’t be a lazy actor that just thinks about your performance and nothing else… Kelly. Get creative with your filming! This is your little movie, your little self-tape. Obviously, it has to be appropriate to what the script/audition calls for and the performance is what we’re trying to showcase here, but-you’re setting up the scene. You and your partner will work out focusing the camera and all that jazz…but you don’t have to just sit or stand and deliver lines. You can add some blocking & definitely you should figure out your eyelines if you’re looking at other shit in your scene. And editing! I mean, please do not go crazy with editing, but if the audition calls for slapping stuff together, slap it together with your flare. I had an audition I did by myself because all I had to do was repeat one word a bunch of different ways & the way in which I specifically put different deliveries of the word next to each other in post is what helped make it funny. Did it have to be funny? No, but I saw an opportunity there so I ran with it.
- Not-doing self-tapes means not-booking gigs. You actually have to do all of the above and submit on time in order to get the freaking gig. I feel like I shouldn’t have to say that to anyone, but unfortunately, I have to say it to myself, so it makes the list. I don’t know why I normally like in-person auditions way more, but that’s changing. I have let so many of my self-tapes just slide on by me without even attempting to tape them. What a dumb broad. Self-tapes are super popular nowadays-nobody cares if you don’t have a place to shoot it or if you suck with technology or you don’t have any friends-figure it out, truth is, none of that is probably true anyway. A lot of productions have (at least) their first round of auditions online through self-tape. In reality, that means no driving through traffic, no getting your shift covered, no spending money on gas and parking-so appreciate that, and just do the damn thing.
You don’t have to have the fanciest equipment or set up, but you do have to have some kind of set up & if the script calls for another character you need to have another person (none of that do-it-yourself-and-leave pauses/reaction-facial-expression-moment-to-add-lines-in-by-voice-over-in-imovie-later nonsense. Yes, I’m guilty of that.) If you actually prepare and get on board with another actor, it can be a really fun process! So if you’re like me & you’ve been being a total brat about self-tapes, get over yourself-call a friend, have some fun & book some work, bitch!