6 Tips on Self Tape Auditions

4749584 By Jason Godbey

Some actors love self tape auditions and some dread them. For this video I thought I’d try an experiment: reach out to actors asking them how they felt about self tape auditions and see what advice they could offer and have them respond via self tape.

The result was surprising. Not all the actors I asked got back to me, and some took longer than others with their videos, which may say something about how they feel about self taping; but the four who did respond, Karissa Barney, Allen Lewis Rickman, Maria Aparo, and Mark Granville Merritt, gave some great tips on how to make a successful self tape.

Self taping has its advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage is that you can audition for a project without having to go to the audition. If you’re out of town, or the casting director is in another state, you can create your own video and send it off. This is also the biggest disadvantage. While it’s nice not to have to travel, you miss the opportunity to meet the casting director. You can’t establish a rapport, and she can’t get to know you personally.

Another advantage is being able to do as many takes as you want to until you get one you like. Most people auditioning in person won’t ask for another shot if they feel they didn’t do well on the first reading. If you’re taping yourself, you can look at yourself on video and make adjustments to give a better performance. For example, John C. Reilly shot and submitted several takes of himself performing the song “Mr. Cellophane” to earn the role of Amos in Chicago, for which he was nominated for an Oscar.

Whether you love it or hate it, one thing is for sure. Self tape auditions are here to stay. In a world that’s becoming smaller and smaller through technology, casting directors and productions are relying on self taped auditions more and more. For them, it’s terribly convenient; saving both time and money. They don’t have to book a rehearsal space to conduct auditions. It’s much easier and faster to watch someone’s audition video than  it is to take the time to meet and greet each actor. Using this tool allows casting directors to narrow down their selection quickly.

Being able to give a great self tape audition will continue to be an incredibly useful skill now and in the foreseeable future. It’s important to embrace this method of auditioning and learn how to do it well.

The thing to remember about a self tape audition is that it is the actor’s entrée to the casting director. It’s a means to get into the room with him so he can get to know you. It is not an end unto itself. A good self tape can get you the in person audition, and hopefully eventually get you the part.






The BTRP Blog-An Introduction

“Learning is the only thing that the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets” – Leonardo Da Vinci

Good filmmakers, actors, directors, cinematographers, and composers understand that learning doesn’t stop when the formal education does. We launched our blog to pass on the lessons we’ve learned over the last 17 years. In “The Hardest Part is Deciding” we offer tips on how to make one of the most difficult choices in the business: picking your next project.

The Hardest Part is Deciding

Which project do I choose?

4749584 By Jason Godbey

One of the hardest decisions to make as a filmmaker is which project to do. When it comes to making a decision as to whether or not to embark on a new project, it is important to consider is the cost. Every project will cost you three things: time, money, and energy. In fact, you could make the argument that most things in life will cost you in those three ways.

To ultimately make the decision, I ask myself two questions. The first is: Do I have the time, money, and energy to do this project? The second: Am I willing to spend the time, money, and energy to do this project? Answering these questions will tell you if any project is worth doing, but some of these factors tend to outweigh others.

Time is always against you as a filmmaker. Finding the time to do your passion project while you’re trying to earn a living is never easy. I’ve made movies while working a full-time job, and it’s difficult. When I had a day job, I shot on the weekends and edited weeknights after work. It wasn’t easy. It sapped a lot of my energy. I didn’t have a lot left over when I went to work the next day after staying up late working on an edit, but I was able to finish the project because I was willing to spend the time, even it took me twice as long as it would have if I didn’t have the day job. If you’re working a project in your spare time, just be patient and realize it’ll take you a bit longer, but if it’s worth it you’ll be able to finish what you started.

Then there’s the question of money. Doesn’t it always come down to money? Let’s say you have a great idea, and you have the time and the energy to do it, but you don’t have the money. Can you get the money? Can you complete the project on a smaller budget? I’ve had many instances where I had the will and the time to do a project but no budget. You can do a lot with time and energy, but no project costs nothing. Even shorts I’ve filmed in a day and edited over the weekend have cost me something (lunch for the cast and crew, props, media, etc.).

If you don’t have what you need, are you willing to spend the money to get it? How do you get around not having enough money? Be creative, be flexible. Don’t be afraid to ask for favors and always look for bargains. If you can’t afford to buy or rent equipment, borrow it from a friend, or better yet, ask him to be a part of the production. There’s always a way if you’re willing to work to get there.

Having the stamina to finish a project is just as important as starting it. It takes a great deal of passion to do that. The best project is one you can finish. It can be demoralizing to start a project and not complete it, so whatever you choose, make sure you can take it through to the end. Anyone can start a film, finishing one is what makes you a filmmaker.

Then there’s the second question, the “will” side of the equation. You may have everything you need to do the project: time, money, and energy, but is it worth it to you? Having the passion to do a project is just as important as having the know-how. In some cases it’s more important.

What’s in it for you doesn’t always have to be a question of monetary gain. It can be a chance to work with good actors, or a great writer, or  a DP you like. A project can also be a chance to sharpen your skills as an artist, make you a better writer, director, cameraman, editor, etc. When I made The Jessica Project, it was all about seeing if I could make a series depending on myself as the entire crew.  At the time, I hadn’t directed in a while. I wanted to get in shape as a filmmaker, and I used that project as an exercise. Sometimes we need that. The creative muscle must be used, stretched, and worked if it is to be of use when we need it. Sometimes doing a small project is the perfect way to flex that muscle.

My suggestion is, if you’re just starting out, is to start with a smaller project, something you know you can complete. Make a short movie that you can shoot in a day with some people you can trust to show up on time and do their parts for the production. Finishing a project is a good way to build confidence in yourself. Even if the project isn’t perfect, you’ll have a finished film and learn a ton of valuable lessons.

As I’ve gotten older and more experienced I’ve found these decisions to be more difficult. They stakes of every project are raised when you have limited time. It’s important to weigh the options carefully and figure out which project will get you closer to your goal.

All That Jazz

4749584 By Jason Godbey

All That Jazz was the first episode of Watch This Film.   Bob Fosse gives us an autobiographical film that is honest and unflinching. All That Jazz is a kind of bible to people in show business that takes place in New York’s Theatre District which we used for the backdrop of our episode. 

Watch This Film is presented by Molly Grace Byrnes and written by Jason Godbey, Rebecca Cremonese and Molly Grace Byrnes.