Equity launches Self-Tape Best Practice Guidelines
Developed in consultation with performers, performer representatives and casting directors, the Self-Tape Best Practice Guidelines standardise the self-tape process in terms of technology, time commitments and self-test expectations, whilst allowing for the best performance possible: a win-win situation for all.
Self-Tape Best Practice Guidelines 2022
Prepared by members of MEAA Equity, in consultation with performer representatives and casting directors.
Download here or read below.
1. Turn around times
Casting Briefs need to provide:
• For TVCs Casting directors will aim for a 48 hour minimum turnaround, excluding weekends and public holidays, from issue of first scheduled media release.
• Agents will aim to submit briefs to actors as soon as possible after receiving them.
• Actors and agents will accept/decline audition offers as soon as possible after receiving them, so as not to disadvantage other actors who may be called if offer is declined.
For TV, Film and Streaming Services - Casting Directors will aim toward:
• For tests of 3 pages or less: a minimum 3 working-day turnaround;
• For scripts of 4-6 pages: a minimum 4 working-day turnaround;
• For tests of 7 pages or more a minimum 5 working-day turnaround;
• And for serial TV: a minimum 3 working-day turnaround
Weekends and public holidays are excluded. (i.e. if a brief for a TVC is given to an actor on a Friday afternoon, it will be submitted no earlier than the following Tuesday afternoon. In this example, if the Monday is a public holiday, the submission day would be Wednesday.)
In circumstances where it is not possible to comply with these provisions, it is up to all parties to work together to find a possible compromise. CDs are encouraged to provide more time whenever possible.
2. Theatre self-tapes
• Where possible, outside of extreme circumstances such as lockdown, in-person auditions should be prioritised for theatre. However we acknowledge that more actors are given an opportunity to audition with self-tapes, and in some cases self-tapes may be more suitable to an actor. Therefore both in-person and self-tape options should be available to all. Casting Directors should however acknowledge that theatre self-tape auditions, especially musical theatre (with the complexities of musical arrangements and dance calls) are not ideal for actors.
• Where a self-tape audition process is being utilized by the performer for a non-musical theatre audition, a 5 day minimum turnaround is required excluding weekends and public holidays.
• No more than two scenes should be requested.
• Theatre self-tape submissions should where possible be mid-shot rather than close-up.
3. Standard shot size and instructions
• In acknowledgement of the often limited resources and space available to performers, shot size requirements for self-tapes will be restricted to mid-shots or close-ups.
• There will be no requirements to zoom in or out during a scene and no requests for large or complicated movements or techniques such as panning or slow motion.
• Casting briefs will provide clear and specific instructions for self-tapes, provided either in writing or via a recorded video, available to all auditionees.
• Where an actor is having difficulty providing a self-tape, actor and/or agent should liaise with the Casting Director to find a solution which may include a Zoom or an in-room audition.
• Call-backs, if not able to be done in-studio, will be conducted via Zoom and paid for at the current MEAA rate.
• Performers should be able to audition with ‘script in hand’ if this is in line with their individual process.
4. Audition Responses
It is important that Casting Directors and theatre companies understand how important it is for a performer’s mental health to know the outcome of their audition. Casting Directors and theatre companies will continue to investigate and instigate a method of informing performers (and their agents) about the outcome of their audition, positive or negative, as soon as outcomes are known.
• As stated in Section 3, actors may test with the script in hand if they wish to.
• Where possible and appropriate within the production, actors will be sent the full script of the production they are auditioning for.
• It is acknowledged by all parties that a non-actor may be used as a reader in a self-test. If an actor is struggling to find a suitable reader, they can communicate this to their agent and Casting Director and all endeavours will be made to assist.
• For call-backs, when on Zoom or otherwise, a reader should be provided by the Casting Director.
7. Submission of Self-Tapes
Actors will not be expected to pay to submit their self-tapes. Whichever submission platform is used will be free and easily accessible to the actor when the actor is the person submitting.
It is understood by all parties that these provisions will not always prove practical due to the fluid nature of our business. In circumstances where the recommendations set out are challenging to implement, the Casting Director involved is urged to make this clear to performers and their agents, and to keep the lines of communication open.