Self-Tape Tips from Casting Director Monica Dalman

Vancouver Casting Director, Monica Dalman, recently put these wonderful words together for Actor self-tapes tips

Recently Monika Dalman, a Freelance Casting Director from Vancouver shared some wisdom based on her experience watching hours of self-tape submissions. 

A very self-tape watching heavy day today and I have some “tips” to share.  This is based on watching LOTS of the same scenes performed by different people, and what things made certain tapes stand out and certain tapes not make the cut.

1. Do not read lines off of the paper or teleprompter!

Seriously DON’T read your lines off the paper or off a teleprompter and feel that we cannot tell you are doing this. We 100% can tell. If you REALLLLY cannot memorize the lines, literally just read them off the paper but do it in plain sight and leave a note about it. Honestly even if you barely memorize them at all, if you REALLY know the scene and get the words TECHNICALLY wrong, we will care way less than if you are looking at the words and not really doing any actual acting and reacting.

2. Watch your eye contact

People don’t constantly stare into each other’s eyes when they talk to one another. The next time you are having a conversation with another person, take a moment to think about where your eyes go when you are talking to them. You definitely don’t just stare into their eyes the whole time; especially in vulnerable or otherwise emotional moments. The actors who are able to replicate this well in an audition end up having better tapes.

3. Read your breakdowns and character descriptions

Read the breakdowns and character descriptions REALLY carefully. There is always information that can help you understand the essence of the character. If you don’t read it, you are missing out on some really important clues. Remember that the creative team is auditioning you to see if they can see the character in you, so really work on making sure you are bringing the character to life in the way they were described in the breakdown.

4. Timing is everything

Don’t drag the scenes out unreasonably (in interest of the audition length), but also don’t rush. I’d honestly download a script to a movie you like, and pick a scene, print it, and watch it on the screen. Pay attention to the timing and the pauses. I bet the scene takes longer than you think it would in most cases, especially if it’s an important scene.

Take the beats and moments. They don’t need to be drawn out, but take them. Remember when you are reacting and responding, that it’s supposed to feel like it’s happening to the character for the first time.

Closing Remark

Most tapes are really good but the ones that get shortlisted or booked are the ones that really take all this stuff into account.