Why Self-Taping is here to stayDec 22, 2022
The self-taping world is a reality for actors... and is not going away any time soon. No matter where you are, there's a good chance that you've noticed that in-person auditions are fewer and farther between and many more film and tv (and yes, even theatrical) projects are implementing self-taping into their audition process. Let's look at some of the reasons why self-taping is the medium of choice for so many projects.
The ability to self-tape auditions has made the process more sustainable for both sides
You can get in front of casting directors without traveling for auditions. This means that you can often keep your plans and make that audition happen. (and, even when it's a "live" audition, you're usually on Zoom, Skype, or live on Actors Access from your own studio space.
Casting Directors can save money and time on leasing a physical space. You and the CD are both saving money and time considering that they don't have to have a physical space for you to visit. They get to work from home without community as well, which means they have the ability to see more actors (more on this in a bit).
Self-taping gives you a chance to flex your creative muscles more often. There are more opportunities to audition and that, alone, can sustain you by continuing to work that muscle (as long as you don't get burned out.)
Self-taping means you have more control over your audition
Self-taping gives you more control over how you're represented. If you don't like a specific take, no one will see it. If you want to change your look mid-session or adjust your environment, now you can do that on your own time and space. You can choose what background or setting works best for your skin tone and the energy of the scene.
In the world of self-taping, there are no restrictions on what you can do with an audition—you can record multiple interpretations and offer the Casting Director options. Now, this also means you have to simultaneously be Director and Actor, which is a skill many people have to curate. This is where training really comes in.
Self-taping means you can flesh out your choices in a safe space
One of the main things self-taping allows for is freedom. You are working in a home environment and are offered freedom -- freedom to take your time preparing; freedom to continue exploring and playing until you find "the take;" freedom to ruminate and swap out choices as needed. Try this one! No? Well how about this one?
You can also experiment with how different tools are translating without having to wait for an audition or book a part in a play; you simply do another self-tape with a different take on your character. This is especially important because it’s so hard for actors (especially those who aren’t trained) to know what even looks good on them until they see themselves on screen doing it repeatedly.
Now, a caveat: this is one of the first times in history actors have had the tools to do a take and then INSTANTLY play back and - dare I say it - judge themselves. This has never existed. It's always been exploration-drive and then, if we receive a note, it's from the director/teacher/coach who was watching us. Watching yourself - especially at an early stage in training - can be a DISASTROUS misstep.
If you're going to watch yourself, remove your 'emotional' judgement from the equation. Look at the tools you're using, assess if those tools are translating the way you'd like them to, and then continue exploring.
Casting directors are now seeing a larger pool of talent
Casting directors now have the opportunity to see, say, about 60 auditions per role as to opposed to 30 or fewer in-person.
Now, you might be thinking, "Oh. Great. More competition."
But this means that casting directors no longer need to limit their search for actors to people who live in the same city, or even country. They can widen their casting pools and see more people, larger demographics, and be less limited by region.
This also means that agents are able to connect with more talent through virtual classes, webinars, 1-on-1s, live auditions and callbacks, and more. If you've ever been looking for the opportunity to get that "foot in the door" with a Casting Director you admire, there have never been more opportunities than the present.
Self-taping has revolutionized the industry, even after the pandemic is over.
Self-taping has revolutionized the industry. It’s allowed people who previously wouldn’t have had access to auditioning for certain roles get their foot in the door at major networks and studios, as well as allowed actors who have been overlooked or underrepresented to be seen in a new light. Self-tapers are able to decide when and where they would like to present themselves, creating more equitable opportunities for many people who may otherwise have not been afforded those opportunities.
It allows Casting Directors to see more actors and often save from having to lease a brick and mortar space. It also allows Casting Directors and Actors to cross paths more often (albeit it in a virtual space) to allow for more networking and connection.
Do you miss the days when the majority of auditions were in person? I hear you. There are an incredible amount of reasons why in-person auditioning is an incredible tool. But it's also impossible to deny there are so many benefits to self-taped auditions. And, from my perspective, it's not going away any time soon.
Jordan Woods-Robinson is an award-winning actor and coach.
As an actor, Jordan is best known for The Walking Dead, Homeland, Nashville, and as a member of the prestigious Blue Man Group.
As an Acting Coach, Jordan translates his theatrical training for Film and TV actors, empowering them to get into their bodies and out of their heads. He trains his actors (ages 6-76) to harness impulse as a tool, to trust their guts, to work on their feet, to break rules, and, overall, to make bold choices that make a lasting impression through tape.
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