Self-Tape 101: 10 Tips to Audition Like a Pro!

In recent years, self-tapes have gained popularity as a great way for actors to submit an audition from the convenience of their own homes. However, filming a self-tape can feel pretty daunting, so we’ve gathered ten tips that we think will help you to shoot incredible auditions. Whether you’re looking to add to your general acting know-how, or (hint hint) preparing to apply for UBC Players Club’s Fall 2022 Mainstage, The Importance of Being Earnest, this is the post for you!

Chloe's 10 Tips to Self-Tape Like A Pro

1. Do Your Research!

Before you jump right into choosing material for your self-tape, set aside some time to look into the show you’re auditioning for. Take note of the genre, the location or time period in which it’s set, and any characters you may want to play. All of this information can be incredibly helpful when selecting material for your audition! As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to find a monologue that fits the tone of the play (or role) that you’re auditioning for. You might have an amazing comedic monologue already in your repertoire, but that won’t help the director see how your talents would fit into a tragedy. Understanding your source material is a great way to ensure that you’re setting yourself up for success!


2. Highlight Your Strengths!

Auditions are all about showing the casting directors why they should consider you for their show- so naturally, you want to use your audition to highlight what you do best! When choosing audition material, look for monologues that allow you to demonstrate your individual strengths as an actor. The best pieces are ones that allow you to show a range of your capabilities all within one performance. In other words, avoid pieces that are one-note, and look for ones that allow you to play with transitions or beat changes. If you can nail a character arc in a 60-second audition tape, you’re showing your directors that you’ll be incredibly prepared to play a dynamic character in a full-length production.


3. Practice, Practice, Practice!

Once you’ve found your material, it’s time to rehearse! Since self-tapes are fairly short, most casting directors will expect you to be off-book, meaning that you can recite all of your lines without a script. Memorizing a monologue can feel pretty intimidating, so make sure to give yourself enough preparation time so you don’t need to stress about learning your lines at the last minute. When memorizing your lines, it may help to begin by splitting the piece into sections rather than attempting to learn everything at once. Once you’ve perfected each section, you can join them back together and have an amazing monologue ready to go! Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family members for help rehearsing. Hearing some feedback can be really useful during the preparation process!


4. Choose the Right Angle!

When filming a self-tape, you’ll typically want to use a medium close-up frame, which means you’ll be filming from your chest to just above the top of your head. Make sure the camera is at eye level or just above it. You can always stack some books as a DIY tripod if you need a little extra height! As for the background, try to find something neutral that won’t distract the casting director from your performance. A solid-coloured wall in a subtle shade like white, grey, or blue works perfectly.


5. Check Your Tech!

Before launching into your Oscar-worthy performance, it’s a good idea to do a test run of your recording equipment so that you can troubleshoot any issues that may come up. Film a short clip of yourself saying a sentence or two in the location you’re planning to use, then watch it back to ensure that the lighting and audio quality are satisfactory. It would be such a drag to have to re-film your entire audition due to technical difficulties, so a quick test run can be a total lifesaver!


6. Remember Your Listener!

When filming a self-tape, chances are you’ll be the only actual actor in the room. However, in the context of your chosen material, your character is likely speaking to someone- whether it’s another character, a group of characters, or even the audience! As you say your lines, remember to visualize who you’re speaking to and how their reactions to your words may influence your character. It can sometimes be helpful to place an object at eye level off-camera to act as a reference point for where a listener might be. That way, if you need to make “eye contact” with this person at any point in the scene, you’ll have a consistent point to focus on.


7. Take Your Time!

Typically, directors will ask that your audition falls within a specific time limit (such as a 30-60 second monologue). You may be tempted to rush through your material to make sure that you can fit everything into the time limit.  Even while performing a monologue, it’s important to allow for beats (or pauses) to occur in the scene! As you film, allow yourself time to breathe and pace the lines in a way that makes sense in the context of the scene. If you’re consistently going overtime, it may be time to look for some new material!


8. Don’t Strive for Perfection!

One of the joys of self-tapes is that they provide actors with the opportunity to film a couple of takes before they settle on one they’re happy with. However, don’t fall into the trap of starting over for every little mistake! It’s so easy to allow your inner critic to take over and end up filming dozens of takes in order to get the “perfect” one. This will take up so much time and just result in you feeling super frustrated, which isn’t the best headspace to be in during an already stressful process. Remember that casting directors don’t expect perfection from you, so you shouldn’t either! It’s okay to shoot a few takes, but that’s really all you need.


9. Celebrate!

Make sure you put aside time after submitting your tape to reward yourself! Auditioning is super intimidating, and sending in a self-tape is a major accomplishment. Whether you treat yourself to a Starbucks drink at UBC, run a relaxing bubble bath, or make dinner plans with a friend, it’s so important that you find a way to practice self-care and de-stress after completing any stage of the audition process.


10. Keep Trying!

If you don’t hear back this time, don’t get discouraged! Remember, every director has a certain vision for each new project they embark on. Just because you weren’t quite what they were looking for this time doesn’t mean they didn’t still love your audition, and it certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t audition for other projects in the future! Even if you don’t land the role, each audition is an opportunity to gain more experience and challenge yourself as an actor. If you keep trying, your hard work is bound to pay off!


Thanks so much for reading! If you’ve got more tips, please let us know, and if you’ve got any auditions coming up, break a leg! We know you’ll be amazing. 💙🧡

Posted by UBC Players Club

10 Tips for Auditioning

  1. Memorize your monologue.
    It may seem like a no-brainer, but you should aim to have your monologue memorized for your audition. That means not only knowing the words by heart, but also having your blocking and movement memorized as well. To do this, try breaking the piece into smaller increments or beats (based on the progression of the text and its changes), rehearse in different settings, at different paces and with different intentions informing the words. Have a friend be on book for you to check that you are sticking to the text.
  2. Read the plays!
    Again, it may seem obvious, but you may be surprised to learn that it is a common mistake for actors to not read the whole play that their audition piece is from. This is such an important step in preparing your audition and building your character– context is everything! Also, being able to speak a common language with other theatre people is important– the audition panel may know (and love) the play your piece is from, or they may not know it and be curious about it. Go into your auditions prepared to answer key questions about the play, and having done plot and character analyses. ALSO, if possible, you should read the plays you are auditioning for! In the case of Festival Dionysia, this is not always possible because it features new original work, but knowing a little bit about the company’s history and how they work is an asset in any audition (this will also you to ask informed questions).
  3. Think of the audition as an opportunity to meet new people.
    A simple way of approaching your auditions with confidence is to reframe for yourself the purpose of the exercise. Focussing on the audition being an opportunity to meet new people…and for them to meet you, rather than the fact that your work is going to be judged might open up a new way of viewing the audition process. Yes, you’re making yourself vulnerable either way, but by reframing the audition as a meeting rather than a site of judgement, you can focus on the quality of the exchange, listening and sharing, learning, being curious, presenting yourself as the cool person you know you are, instead of going off the assumption that your every move and word is being scrutinized. Imagine the possibilities if you look for connection instead of judgement!
  4. Remember the audition panel wants it to be YOU.
    It’s easy to walk into the audition room expecting the worst… because, again, that nasty inner critic can take over and the fear of being judged (in a negative way) can be overwhelming. But if you take a moment to put yourself in the audition panel’s shoes, and think about what their needs and goals are, and how that might inform their process, it can be very liberating, because they want the next person who walks into the room to be their next hire! They want it to be you! (We want it to be you!)
  5. Take time to introduce yourself.
    So, in review, you have an opportunity to meet people, and they are on your side… let them know who you are, and take the time/show yourself the respect to really get your name out clearly and confidently. Not so confident? Fake it ’til you make it! You matter, and so do introductions, so make sure you take the appropriate time for introductions, say your name clearly, and introduce your piece. Easy peasy!
  6. Embody the text.
    This tip goes into the craft of acting a bit more, but it can apply to you no matter what your level of acting experience is… it is so important to embody the text. What does this mean? Well, that might open up a whole can of theatrical theoretical worms, but the nitty gritty of it is… you have to make choices for your character, based on the text, that are reflected in your body, your physical choices. So, while we applaud anyone and everyone who auditions, it’s that much more meaningful when someone has thought about how (and why) their character might move, when (and how) they might be still, and made some well-thought-out choices. Whatever makes the text come alive, whatever seems appropriate for the character based on your work, whatever moves you (literally, figuratively), that’s what’s going to step your work up a notch.
  7. Be courteous to everyone you encounter.
    Probably a good rule of thumb for any situation, professional or otherwise, but having good manners, and treating everyone you meet during your audition with respect is so important. Positivity begets positivity, but negativity travels faster… so don’t spread frustration, stress, or sadness… theatre is a machine that relies on all of its parts. Be kind, and you’ll probably have a better more positive experience yourself. Plus, you never know, that person you thought was just a lackey might be the most powerful person in the room.
  8. Practise in the outfit you intend to wear.
    There are two key parts to this tip, one supports #6, you can better embody your text and give a great performance if you have rehearsed in the clothing you intend to wear (and you know it works for your piece), and the other is all about preparation… ever had an outfit all planned out days in advance only to find out on the night you try it on that the shirt is missing a button and the pants have a stain on them? Prepare to put your best foot forward, as actor and as character, and get comfortable in your audition clothes. Don’t forget the shoes!
  9. Be prepared to be dynamic.
    Auditions are an exercise in contrasts. Be well rehearsed, be memorized, but also be prepared to improvise and adjust! Yikes. Well, it’s quite common. You may not have to come up with something on the spot, but it is fairly common to be asked to do what is called an “adjustment” on your monologue. This is often an opportunity for a director to see a different side of you, or to see how you ‘improv,’ to judge your ability to think on your feet, your creativity or your level of preparation. Best way to prepare for this is to rehearse your monologue in as many different ways as you can think of, so if you’re doing a comedic piece, try doing it as if it were dramatic, play with accents, play with physicality (see also: tip #1), the main thing is: play!
  10. Remember to breathe…
    And breathe deep, from your diaphragm. Take some deep breaths before you enter the room, and keep your breath moving as you perform your piece. Sounds simple, but it can be easy to forget, to hold, to try to control our breath, just let go, let it flow! And remember to have fun! This should always, always be fun.

Posted by UBC Players Club in Information