Advantages of Self-Taping – JB Cohen Explains
JB Cohen is a former agent / manager who oversees our L.A. office. He took a break from enjoying the sunshine and palm trees to reflect on the advantages of self-tapes.
Auditioning is a unique skill. You can take as many acting classes and scene studies as you like, but learning the art of auditioning is, in fact, a skill set of its own.
Listening to Feedback
Prior to the audition, you often will not have any notes or direction from casting or producers. Once you do start reading, you may get some notes on how they want you to do it differently. These notes generally mean they like you, they like what they see, and they want to work with you. However, that requires you to be quick on your feet. You need to show that you can take those notes and work with direction.
If it is a producer’s session, you have the added pressure of having bigger decision makers in the room. If you do get to do a screen test for the role, then you’ll really have a lot of cooks in the kitchen. From producers to potentially the director, all watching you. The whole time, you know that only one actor is going to be told “yes.”
The Move to Self-Tape
Over the past year or two, and certainly moving forward, we have seen a significant trend of casting having actors go on tape. This largely takes place during the first round or even in lieu of pre-reads. I have spoken to plenty of casting directors who don’t believe in this, as it eliminates the opportunity for casting directors to work with actors – especially actors with whom they aren’t familiar. Self-tapes do not allow the actors to receive notes and direction. Simply put: actors cannot receive the help they need to get them to a producer’s session, or at least, to furnish the agent with valuable feedback that the actor can use to improve upon.
However, when you do have to put yourself on tape, use it to your advantage. Consider these benefits:
- You can do the scene as many times as you want until you’re happy with your read.
- You can work with a reader who can help prepare you and can be in sync with your timing and your pace.
- If you flub a line or don’t like the way your audition came out, do it again until you’ve put your best foot forward.
- You don’t have to worry about the pressure cooker, or being thrown off by a producer on his Blackberry during your audition; you can relax and record your best self-tape audition.
But what does this all mean?
In summary, a request to put yourself on tape may not be as ideal as being in the room, but take advantage of it by putting down the best self-tape you can. Who knows? Maybe next round you’ll be in the room.