5 top tips for the nailing your self-tapes

Anna Fiorentini 6 Apr 2021

5 top tips for the nailing your self-tapes

If ever self-tapes were to have their day, it’s today! Due to the pandemic, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of auditions being done on Zoom and tape. What this means is that you need to be on your A-game 100% of the time. Believe it or not, self-tapes can be a lot of fun, and they should save you time.

Many actors love taping, and this is because they’ve nailed these 5 top tips:

1. Don’t be over-critical 

Let’s say you have three scenes to tape for a TV show. As soon as the casting came in, you felt that familiar heart flutter, and you knew this part had your name on it. You’re desperate for the part, and you need this tape to be perfect. When you’re in this headspace, it’s easy to become hyper-critical of any inflexion, expression, or similar thing that you don’t like. When you keep redoing the same scene, angling for perfection, the opposite happens! Set a time limit that’s realistic to get the tapes done, and be positive about your performance; don’t try and find flaws!

2. Lighting is everything

You don’t need a load of fancy kits to nail a self-tape; in fact, a smartphone, a big window, and a blank wall will get the job done. You can invest in a ring light, which means you are lit equally. These only cost £40–£60 and are worth it if you want to nail your tape. Casting directors can spot a badly lit tape a mile off. If you don’t have a ring light, then make sure you’re sitting next to a window and not lit on one side of your face.

3. Know your lines

For some crazy reason, there are a few folks who think that because it’s self-tape, they can stick their lines up and read them without having to learn them! No matter how canny you think you’re being, casting directors can see that you’re reading! If you have a short time to learn the lines, speak with your agent and ask if you are able to do a script-in-hand read. But, where possible, learning lines are always the best option!

4. Get a good reader

It’s quite an art to find a reader who can deliver and create the chemistry you need. They don’t need to be trained actors, but it’s worth finding someone who you connect with. Without perhaps realising it, the dynamic between you and the reader can lift or dull your performance. Practice the scene a few times with your reader before you tape. Remember, your reader doesn’t actually need to be in the room. If you can’t find someone in person, you could use FaceTime or Skype.

5. Send it, then delete it!

Actor Bryan Cranston writes in his biography that he believes the job is the audition, not the end product. Once he’s finished taping, he deletes all traces of that job! That way, he’s not attached to the outcome. This is a really useful bit of advice and means you aren’t longing to hear and losing sleep!

If you like to immerse yourself more into the world of television, check out our Acting for TV and Film Course, starting in May!

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