How to Avoid Self-Tape Sabotage: PART TWO

Last week we talked about how we sabotage our self-tapes by not investing in the equipment we need to do the job. If you missed it, you can find it here. This week I wanted to continue the conversation and talk about how we sabotage our self-tapes even if we have all the technical things down.

How many times have you shot a self-tape, watched it, then thought to yourself “just one more try”. Then after about 30 takes and 3 hours–you’re completely overwhelmed by all the options and don’t know which take to send to casting?

“I got every line correct on this take, but I like how I did that gesture with my hands in that take.”

“I hate how I smiled here, but my hair looks amazing!”

“I felt so in the moment, and even got emotional–but my eyeline was off!”

So you do take after take, after take. Trying to perfectly orchestrate this scene with all the best elements of all the other takes. In the end–do you use the last take, or do you find yourself getting more and more disconnected? I find that I know I’ve had enough when I keep flubbing my lines. I can only say them so many times before my tongue just can’t seem to enunciate anymore. Then I usually go back and forth between two takes and in end just pick one not really understanding why and think–“I’m not gonna book it”.

Does that sound about right to you? Because that was me, and sometimes, that still IS me. Because mindset, and positive self-talk is an ongoing project.

So again, you might be asking–how is this sabotage? If I’m messing up my takes, what else can I do? But imagine if you showed up to an in-person audition and you asked to do your take over and over again–would that fly? No! Because it’s not professional. You need to know that you can nail an audition in one or two takes–maybe three if we hear a firetruck go by in the background.

Set yourself up for success by following these tips in part two of HOW TO AVOID SELF-TAPE SABOTAGE:

  1. Decide on a process. You maybe have 48, 24, or 12 hours to prep for an audition, and it can be one page or 15 pages. But if you have a process that you go to every time, a process that instantly gets you where you need to be–it shouldn’t matter. Whether it’s reading the sides 26 times, or making a list of character traits, you should have an idea of what to do every time you get an audition. Not having a process that you can got to every time, is like not having a designated place to do your self-tapes. You’re adding stress where it doesn’t need to be. You’re saying “I’ll just wing-it”, and your results will be spotty.

    If you don’t already have a process, I encourage you to start one that works for you. There are many out there, some free resources that can get you started. But as you get more comfortable, you may find yourself picking and choosing which process works best for you. Some people simply cannot move on without learning all the lines, while others prefer to deep dive into character work right away. Whatever it is for you, make it a process that you can confidently fall back on. Confidence in yourself is the first step to success.
  2. Rehearse! Too many of us use the self-tape time to do our rehearsal, and that’s not doing us any favours. Sure, you can tape the rehearsal, but understanding that the rehearsal is for blocking, ensuring your eyelines are set properly, sound and lighting are working well, alleviates the pressure from you and is good for avoiding burnout.

    Rehearse like you would if you were going into a live audition–because it really does you no favours to treat them differently. Yes, self-tapes are likely here to stay even after the pandemic, but there will still be times where you’ll need to go in-person, or have a live online audition. Keep your practises the same and you won’t be nervous when you need to go live.
  3. Get out of your own head. Acting is instinctual. Follow your process, figure out what the character is trying to get in the scene and the different ways they are trying to do it. Plan, orchestrate, think of the things that you want to do, practice it–THEN LET IT GO! Trust your body and that all your homework will show without you having to force it.
  4. Don’t wait till the last minute. Just because the deadline is end of day Friday, doesn’t mean it will be beneficial to send it in at 4:30pm. There have been times where I’ve been put on hold within minutes of a live online audition, hours before sessions are done. If they like what they see early on–you’ll be the one to beat, not the other way around. Plus, casting will appreciate that they don’t have a hundred self-tapes to watch over the weekend, and may actually spend more time watching and considering your tapes because they’re in less of a hurry.


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