With the shift to online audits in recent years, you’ve dedicated yourself to mastering the various aspects of the digital format — purchasing equipment, learning the technical know-how, and setting up a designated space at home. Making sure you can be seen and heard with clarity by the viewer is of utmost importance. Other technical fundamentals to keep your self-tapes in the running can be found here.
But ultimately, all that technology mumbo jumbo is just a means to showcase your personality and talent. Here are several ways to make your self-taped auditions stand out amongst the competition.
Keep the focus on: “I have an idea of how I can bring this character to life.”
Be yourself. Have fun. Take a chance without caring what others think. Casting isn’t always clear what they’re looking for in audits, but they do recognize an interesting, strong performance when they see it. By the way, “strong” doesn’t necessarily mean “more emotional.” Rather, it refers to doing something different—something with depth.
Do something a little different.
Doing the same thing as everyone else is what makes a person blend in. People tend to look at the one person who does something a little different, so keep an element of surprise in your performance. Whatever that differentiation is, make sure that it’s appropriate and fitting to the context of the scene. The fresh idea should not feel like an intrusion into the world at hand.
First impressions count, so draw casting in right from the beginning by taking a moment, perhaps a second, for your character to take a breath and be in their environment or think a thought (maybe about where they just were or what they have to do next, remembering a person they want to call or a grocery item they want to add to their list)—it could be anything, really. While subtle, this is how people exist in the world, and so capturing these brief moments will draw others into your performance. Add another of these moments at the end of the performance—maybe a change of tone, or perhaps the character is anticipating what they’re going to do immediately following the scene. Maybe it’s a backstory secret that you’ve created. You decide.
Reveal something distinct about you as a performer. It could be just a little something different added to your wardrobe.
When selecting a wardrobe, consider what makes your character unique. There’s always a little room to play around with self-expression, as long as it fits the tone of the project and the clothing item doesn’t overwhelm the performance. Whatever you decide to wear, it’s much more important to stand out for your performance than your appearance.
Focus on the performance instead of overproduction or props.
While attempting to perfect their self-tapes, some performers take things a little too far. (For example, actors who add distracting props or shoot the scene and then add a score to it.) Instead of increasing the quality of the audition, overly produced tapes risk detracting from the actual performance. Again, it’s more important to pour your energy into the performance than any number of technical embellishments.
Be flexible and ready.
How ready are you to adapt to unusual requests? Let’s say you’ve got everything all set up: your lights, camera, a gray-blue backdrop, and a room with no sound distractions—and then casting surprises you by asking for an outdoor performance. Sometimes casting is keenly interested in your environment. Perhaps they want to see you in a kitchen setting or request the audition be shot with family members or a pet. In such instances, you’ll want to be able to adeptly set up shop in various settings. You can stand out by being prepared to accommodate such requests with a combination of creativity, style, resourcefulness, and technical skill.
Timing is everything.
If casting requires self-tapes to be submitted as soon as possible, make sure to get yours out right away. Oftentimes, people take themselves out of the running by stressing too much about making a perfect self-tape. If casting needs a tape now, that means now. Also, if casting asks for a tape in two weeks, you can stand out by getting the tape in sooner, rather than later—don’t wait.
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