7 Self-Tape Instructions Actors Often Ignore

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  • 7 Self-Tape Instructions Actors Often Ignore

    Treat your self-tape like you’re baking a cake. Follow ALL directions and you’ll get a sweet result.

    (by Jim Webb)

    (Photo: Luis Quintero/Pexels)

    Self-taping was already the wave of the future, even before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. It was already having a larger and larger presence in the acting world. In fact, in some smaller acting markets, it accounted for as many as 80-90% of the auditions conducted. Now, with the emergence of the Coronavirus, improving your self-taping skills is an absolute must.

  • There’s one way you can quickly and easily improve your self-taping skills. Simply do this: READ AND FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY.

    How easy is that? It’s so easy, a caveman can do it! Yet, sadly, actors sometimes make cavemen look like Einstein.

    Actors often receive instructions from casting directors about what to do when recording and submitting their self-tape. Yet, all too often, these instructions are only partially followed. Sometimes they are ignored altogether or absentmindedly overlooked.

    Here are 7 instructions that are frequently ignored by actors when doing self-tapes:

    #1. Following the Instructions, Generally

    The most frequently ignored instruction for self-tapes is that actors…well… don’t follow the instructions. This may sound redundant, but it’s not. The idea of taking a casting director’s instructions seriously, in general, needs its own section.

    Actors don’t always simply ignore one particular instruction. They just ignore the very importance of obeying instructions, wholesale.

    Think about what overlooking the instructions says about you, as an actor? Does the word “professionalism” (or lack, thereof) come to mind?

    Demonstrate that you are a professional, prepared actor by closely following all instructions.

  • #2. Slate

    Slating is not universal. Some casting directors might need more than just your name. Some casting directors might need you to say specific things on your slate, such as confirming your willingness to shave or change your hairstyle.

    Some casting directors might prefer you do your slate at the beginning of your self-tape, at the end, or even separately. Preferences can vary.

    Don’t just slate the way you want to, or the way you are accustomed to. Slate the way you are instructed to.

    #3. Length

    The length of your self-tape is not like the speed limit; something to be violated on a whim. It’s a guideline to ensure that casting directors get what they need, and only what they need from you. If you’ve been given a limit to the length of time your self-tape should run, by all means, try to stay within that time limit.

  • #4. Number of Takes

    Just as you might be given a limit to the number of minutes (or seconds) your self-tape should run; you might also receive a limit on the number of takes you should include. For example, receiving instructions to submit only two takes is not an invitation to submit more than two takes. Don’t try to slip a few more in just for the heck of it.

    #5. Deadlines

    Casting directors are often up against tight deadlines. Yet, many actors submit their self-tapes past the deadline explicitly given to them. Don’t be one of these people!

    How does it reflect on you to have a casting director calling your rep, wondering why you still haven’t submitted your self-tape?

    Take deadlines seriously and get it in on-time. When that’s not possible, explain your circumstances to your rep or the casting director.

  • #6. Labeling

    Labeling is not a trivial matter. It can help CDs keep up with the many tapes they receive. Instructions to label your self-tape in a certain way don’t come out of left field. They are usually carefully thought out.

    Label your self-tape as instructed.

    #7. Submitting


    Not every casting director wants actors to submit their self-tapes the same way, using the same medium. Those instructions might change from one casting director to another.

    Take time to understand exactly how the casting director would like you to submit your self-tape. It can save you a lot of trouble and embarrassment.

    Treat your self-tape like you’re baking a cake. Follow ALL directions and you’ll get a sweet result. Don’t follow directions and the whole thing can fall flat.

    You are going to put so much effort into making a great tape. Don’t let a simple thing like not following directions ruin it all.


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