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What to Ask For in a Self Tape


As we become more acclimated to remote work and remote casting, the number of self tape auditions has been growing, giving casting directors the ability to select actors from all over the globe and receive a higher volume of auditions than ever before. If you’re brand new to the world of casting actors through self tape auditions or have been considering opening up your talent pool and casting options using this avenue, you need to crawl before you can run.

As opposed to more traditional, in-person auditions, a self tape is when your actor sends an audition file that has been recorded and edited by the actors according to what you, the casting director, have specified. Setting those rules for your self tape auditions not only better communicates the role to your actor, but helps get you the auditions you want to see, and ultimately makes the casting process quicker and more efficient for you.

However, if you don’t know what to ask for in a self tape, the auditions you receive can–and will vary in quality and what you receive in submission. Forrest Gump may be a great movie, but you don’t want your collection of self tape auditions to be like a box of chocolates. You want to know what you’re going to get.

Fishing for Your Talent Pool

When going through the actor selection process for your media request, less is more. Always take your top 20-40 selects so that you save yourself time by pinpointing only the actors you’re interested in.

One way to help narrow down your options is by sending a question request for talent. For example, if you’re trying to cast a rock musician, ask your actors if they play guitar or drums.

Start With Sides and Slates

Once you start filling out your request, make sure your sides are included. Remember, sides must be attached to your role descriptions before the roles have been posted for talent to submit on. When you fill out your Media Request, make sure you check the box to include sides.. Otherwise, your actors are going to have a hard time delivering the performances you want.

When creating a role on Casting Networks, upload your sides first so that they can be added to the media request. Once a role is made active you won’t be able to make any edits or add them later on.

Give your actors specific slating instructions. Ask talent to slate their name and give their profile (front and sides) along with anything else you need to see, such as showing hands.

Details, Details!

In your self tape audition request, it’s best to create different media requests for different roles so that each can drill into role-specific details. Make your instructions clear for your actor to understand and perform. For example, If you’re casting a family, only make your requests for one member at a time.

Have very specific instructions for props, sides, the number of takes you want, how many and which angles you’d like, if you’d like your actors to shoot their self tapes indoors or outdoors, and any other details you can think of. Costuming is not usually necessary, but attire that suggests the role is fine (ex: When casting for a doctor, you don’t need the actor to go out and buy scrubs since professional wear works just as well.).

Be sure to ask for the number of files and forms of media you’d like your actors to submit. Talent on Casting Networks can upload a maximum of 10 media clips per request. Casting Networks also has a maximum upload limit of 600MB, so don’t ask for too much media.

Define Your Deadline

When it comes to your deadline, you should ideally give your actors between 48 and 72 hours to record, edit, and submit their self tape to you. But if you’re in a rush, the absolute bare minimum to give your performers is 24 hours. Remember, you want your actors to have enough time to read the sides and give you their best work. Include your time zone in the due date as well.

When it comes to self tapes, your auditions are as good as your request. As you’ve learned, the key to receiving the best performances and making efficient casting decisions is to provide as much detail in your self tape requirements as possible.

To recap, make sure sure you ask for the following in your self tape auditions:

  • Select your top candidates and ask questions.
  • State your sides and your slates.
  • Define the types of and how much media you want.
  • Give your actors enough time to deliver the self tapes you want and deserve.

Now that you know what to ask for in a self tape, it’s time to put that knowledge to the test. Head on over to Casting Networks’ Project Creators section to cast your project and start getting the self tapes you want.

Happy casting!