In which I explain why self-taped auditions can work against you.

The day has finally arrived when taping your audition is simple, fast, and cheap because you can do it at home. Celebrations! Right? Sorry, but no. Getting in the casting room is still going to give you a better shot of getting called back or landing the role. Here’s why:

I need to sense you.

I know that sounds creepy, but hear me out.  When an actor walks in the room, we get a sense of YOU [which reminds me: DO NOT enter the room in character. It’s just weird.]. We want to see your natural presence, how you work with others, how you listen to direction. Sometimes very charismatic people can make that come through on tape, but it’s rare.

When you self-tape, you use an Instagram mentality.

What does that mean — it means you take 8 million takes of your scene, choose one, edit two together, blanche out your face so only your good side is visible, sometimes you add a filter (actually happened). Guest what. You will have zero control over this when you shoot a film. I need to see you when you are controlling nothing but your craft. I know when people do these tricks in self-tapes, and all it does is distract from the performance.

I’m a director and want to direct you.

Part of the “test” of an in-person audition is seeing how you take direction. If you take direction well, I will absolutely make note of that, and it will carry weight in determining if you’re the right person for the job or not. When you submit a tape, you don’t know what I’m thinking. If I wanted to see something slightly different, you won’t have the opportunity to make that happen. Think for a second what a huge disadvantage for you that is. You basically have one take to absolutely blow me away, despite 50 other people being seen for that role in person. The likelihood of that happening is extremely slim.

I want to connect with you.

I like to work with people who will work well with me and the rest of the cast & crew. I can only really know if that will happen if I meet you in person. I like to love my actors. I do everything I can to create a perfectly safe world for them on set. So let me get to know you. Show me you’re a team player. And leave me with a positive memory of you. If this isn’t the right role for you, but I liked you, I’ll probably call you in for the next film. In fact, I’ve cast people even without making them audition again because I liked meeting them so much the last time.

Having your little brother as your reader can work against you.

When you self-tape, you are usually at the mercy of whatever poor soul agrees to read with you. This can be a disadvantage when they’re not giving you what you need. In-person auditions give you a reader who knows the material inside and out, and knows exactly what to do to make your audition go in a successful direction. And no, reciting only your lines is not a good idea. I need to see you interacting with another human.

Do your best to make in-person auditions possible.

I know, sometimes you’re on the road, or your schedule is just a mess, or you’re being scene for a role in a different city. But I also know a lot of actors have just decided to stop trying. Don’t be that actor. Get on the Greyhound bus. Write me and ask for a different time. It’s not always possible, but I would much rather see you in person than watch your tape. Take ownership of your job as an actor committed to craft and get out there. In an increasingly virtual world, I promise it will make you stand out.

 

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