Self-Taping: the good, the bad, and the ROFL

One thing that pandemic life (aka, living in the year 2020) has inspired me to do is start a consistent self-tape practice. In case you’re uninitiated, a self-tape is when an actor films themselves at home doing an on-camera audition, rather than going in person to audition at a casting office. Self-tapes have really grown in popularity, and you can see why — an actor, anywhere in the country, can film and submit an audition for just about any role they are right for. You don’t have to drive an hour in heavy traffic, switch around your day job shift for a last minute audition, and — best (and scariest) of all — you can do multiple takes until you are happy with one. By scariest, I mean that since you can do endless takes, how do you know when one is really the best one?

I hold myself up to an especially high standard when doing self-tapes, because I imagine anyone watching on the other side knows I had all the time in the world to shoot this and so this must be the very best she can give…. so it better be great! And now with the widespread shut downs and limited productions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems like more than ever before, the present and the future will be digital, virtual, and online. Which poses a huge disparity gap between those (like myself) privileged enough to have reliable internet access, and the many who do not. As grateful as I’ve been to have the time and access to work on my on-camera acting skills during this time, it’s an uneasy truth that not everyone is in a position to do so. So you run with what you got, and hope that you can find ways to be a force of good in this world through using your voice, your presence, and whatever platform you may have.

The inspiration for my self-tape practice is owed 100% to the amazing Audrey Moore of the podcast “Audrey Helps Actors.” If you don’t know this podcast, stop whatever you are doing (unless you’re driving, or tightrope walking, or operating a forklift with full concentration) and hit play on any episode. Be prepared to take notes. Be prepared to be humbled and inspired and get your butt kicked into gear by the sweetest girl with the most hardcore work ethic I have ever encountered. Audrey is a working actress who fully walks her talk. She recommends that actors practice self-tapes on a regular basis. Not just when you have an audition, but weekly, for yourself. To practice, to learn what roles suit you — or don’t — and why, to discover little quirks or bad habits in your work and try to correct them, to get comfortable memorizing pages of sides with very little time. And honestly? If we can’t do these things, according to Audrey, we are not ready for the big leagues.

Audrey invites listeners to participate in #SelfTapeMay, a challenge where you film self-tapes over the course of the month of May, and post them on Instagram (gulp). I participated this year, and tried to further challenge myself by only doing 1-2 takes of each self-tape. It was very vulnerable to post my efforts for the wider public to see, but I knew it was good for me, kind of like taking acting multivitamins. Since May, I’ve been trying to keep it up and film 4 self-tapes per week. Do I accomplish this every single week? Honestly, no. Some weeks are better than others. But I’m hoping that keeping to this practice over time will net results, even if I am not perfect about it. And even if half the time I squirm or wince while watching my self-tapes, or can barely finish the video because I’m cracking up at some random line for no reason, I get it done! Always. Almost always.

Speaking of cracking up… I put together a lil blooper reel during my #SelfTapeMay experience. This stuff is hard! It helps to keep a sense of humor and keep it fun. That’s why we act, fellow actors, AmIRight? Because it’s fun. Right? Riiight?….