Stuck in a Rut? 10 Tips to Spice Up Your Self-Tapes

3307566Booking is a numbers game. But what about when those numbers are racking up without callback in sight? If you’re feeling frustrated and stale, it might be time to work on your self-tape game. Below are some tips to help you get your groove back.



  • Find a New Coach. Nothing like a fresh set of eyes to point out actor habits that might be tripping you up. Find someone you haven’t worked with before. Sometimes hearing notes from a new source can renew motivation and give you the tools you need to rejuvenate your work.
  • Go Back to Basics. Revisit the scene. Beat it out, tactics, objectives, Acting 101-style. If your auditions are feeling stale, you might be missing what is at the heart of the scenes. Put the leg work in and let it strengthen your technique.



  • Examine Your Choices. Casting directors get flooded with waves upon waves of the same audition over and over. You want to stay true to the text and the intention of the scene, but find places where you can make a choice that isn’t the obvious one. Ask yourself what ninety percent of actors will do in a given moment. Then ask yourself if there is a more interesting choice to be made.
  • Put a Physical Change on the Beat Change. If you feel like your auditions are muddy or unfocused, it might be a lack of clarity on the beat changes. As an exercise, try changing your physicality when the beat changes. It can be as simple as a slight shift in weight, just make sure it is natural, organic and informed by the text. Getting the scene in your body can help clarify the intention on camera.
  • Change Up Your Studio. Make sure you have good lighting, a flattering background (blues and grays work well), and clean sound. Compromising on quality can make your audition look shabby or unprofessional. If you’re not sure what constitutes a good setting for self tapes, ask your agent, or someone who is booking consistently, what you can do to change up the look of your auditions.



  • Partner with New People. Get some fresh energy in the room. Ask actor friends or acquaintances whose work you respect to read with you. Surrounding yourself with inspiring people can help push you to strive for more.
  • Get Someone to Put eyes on Your Slate. It’s often the first thing a CD sees. You want to make a good impression. Make sure your slates are natural and personal, and meet the requirements of the casting director. Get a coach or your agent to take a look at your slates and make suggestions.
  • Watch Your Own Auditions. Trust me, I know how painful this one can be. But the only way to really grow in your auditions is to know what you’re putting out there. Review your auditions and take note of which ones get callbacks. Start tracking your habits and trying new things.
  • Keep a CD Journal. It’s good to know your own work, but also try to keep tabs on your target audience. Keep a journal of which casting directors consistently call you in. Make notes of what they like in slates, audition tone, and any quirks or preferences they may have.
  • Employ Some Pre-audition Self-care. You are the product. Set yourself up for success by taking care of yourself leading up to your auditions. The better rested, nourished and less stressed you are, the stronger your work will be. Start cultivating habits that make you feel healthy, strong and relaxed. Try not to self-tape late at night, after a stressful day if you can avoid it.
  • BONUS: Do Some Takes Just for You. Whether or not you end up using them, make sure to do some takes where you just play and let yourself follow your impulses. Do some silly or extreme ones. Letting yourself loosen up will inject a note of spontaneity and charisma into the rest of your work, and you might make some interesting discoveries.



Self-tapes can start to feel endlessly tedious. But it’s important to remember if you’re bored with your work, you can’t expect anyone else to get excited. Take the time to examine, grow and refine your auditions until they feel energizing instead of overwhelming. Auditions are the foundation of your career–the work is worth it.


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Rachel Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at

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