For actors, self-tapes will be some of the most important work you do. They're not quite a home movie, not quite an audition, but could decide whether you get in the room or not.
It's fair to say that we at StarNow have seen our fair share of self-tapes and have noticed some common trends and mistakes that can have Casting Professionals skipping past your tape before you can even say your first line. The best thing? They're totally avoidable!
Take a read below of some of the most common mistakes we see in self-tapes:
1. Messy backdrops Without doubt the most common mistake we see is people not filming their self-tape against a plain, neutral background. Find a blank wall to use in your home, or failing that (say, if your mum hasn't updated her wallpaper since the 70's) you can use a sheet as a backdrop. Just make sure it's plain, neutral and ironed! There’s nothing more distracting than staring at a wrinkly sheet or seeing the inside of a wardrobe.
2. Outlandish outfits The focus needs to be on you, so make sure you're wearing neutral clothing and no distracting jewellery or accessories. The only exception to this is if you are dressing for the character, or have been told to include a specific prop. Before you start filming, it's also worth checking your outfit choice against your background. White shirt in front of a white background? Think again!
3. Wide framing Casting Professionals are busy people and won't always be able to watch your self-tape on a nice, big screen. If your framing (aka what is seen on the camera) is too wide (that is, too far away), you'll be giving them a hard time trying to see you. Aim to keep your framing close – think from the top of your head to just below your armpits.
4. Looking into the camera directly Casting Professionals need to know you can do a great job acting like the camera isn't there – so don't look straight at the camera! A good tip is to stick a picture of someone slightly off camera to give yourself a pair of eyes to focus on and aim your dialogue at (unless you are using a reader)! We'd recommend Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson or perhaps the HRH The Queen if a more stately figure is your cup of tea (English Breakfast of course)!
5. Not following instructions Casting Professionals will often give very specific directions for what they want to see in a self-tape. It could range from the order in which you read the script, to what you name your video file. Don't assume that these instructions are just guides or helpful tips. You'll need to follow them to the letter. If you don't, you risk being passed over. Don't let all your hard work go to waste!
So, there you have it! Five easy fixes that will dramatically improve your next self-tape. Don't forget to take your time with these and don't get flustered if you don't get it right the first time round. It's all about building your knowledge and confidence so you know you'll get it right each time after.
Apply to our latest listings to put these tips in to practice today!