Sunday, July 8th, 2018 #MEAAEquity
MEAA Online

Actor and acting coach Emily Joy offers 10 ways to make your self-tape a winner.

Emily Joy is the owner of Joy Studio, a boutique acting studio in Melbourne. Her actors have secured countless roles for major film and television projects, including Picnic at Hanging Rock, Jack Irish Season 2, Stan’s Romper Stomper and True Story with Hamish & Andy.

1. Have a self-tape plan in place. The turnaround on tapes is getting tighter and tighter, so have a way to tape stress-free and quickly. Whether it’s setting up a space to film at home or scoping out self-test studios in your area, have your self-tape plan in place before the audition comes along.
2. Remember that the performance quality is always more important than the quality of the tape. While it’s great to have perfect sound, beautiful lighting and a neutral backdrop, don’t worry about these things more than your performance.
3. For physical action, like kissing or fighting, understand what it means contextually and find a way to show that in the mid-shot. For example, you can’t kiss your scene partner, but you could take a pause, hold eye contact and breathe them in for a moment. Don’t ignore the big print; know why it’s there and make it your own in the frame.
4. Keep in mind that everything about an audition is stripping you of your individuality. Everyone auditioning is around the same age and level of experience, similar look, in the same mid-shot, saying the same lines. Stand out by personalising everything strongly. Bring yourself wholeheartedly to the role. Don’t try and guess what the casting director is looking for – own the part and boldly give your personal version of the character.
5. As the camera is locked off in a self-tape, it is up to you to create your own close-up. Do this by slowly stepping towards the camera or leaning in, for an important moment of the conversation.
6. When auditioning for comedy, submit one take that’s word-perfect and another version where you improvise to show off your comedic skills.
7. When there are multiple characters in a scene, a post-it note to mark separate eyelines works wonders. Make sure you know how you feel about each person in the conversation, and do a run-through with your reader pointing at who is talking, so you know and then can play.
8. Always play to your highest emotional intelligence, and with the highest stakes possible. Audition scenes are often selected because the casting director wants to see the character handle that particular moment. It’s not everyday life for your character; it is a turning point.
9. Presentation matters. Good lighting and clean hair, along with an outfit that suggests the period, are best.
10. Have fun compiling your tape. Think of it less as an audition and more as a short film. Perhaps there’s a scene in the script that you want to film in addition to the ones requested, or there’s a song that would go well playing in the background of the scene, or you want to film the character having a private moment. Whatever feels fun and organic for you, go for it!

The Equity Foundation has Self Test Studios in Melbourne and Sydney which Equity members can use free of charge. Bookings here.

What do you want to say?

Here are some suggestions about the kinds of things you might want to include in your submission:
  • What is the media like where you live? How much diversity/concentration of media is there in your area? How important to you is media diversity and having a wide range of voices and opinions? Will the takeover reduce competition/diversity in the Australian media sector?
  • What Fairfax and Nine publications and programs do you consume? What attracted you to them in the first place, and what do they mean to you/your family/household? What will be the impact of the takeover on the choice and range of media you consume?
  • How distinct is Fairfax journalism – what makes it different?  Describe a story or stories published by Fairfax over the years which have made a difference to you/had an impact on you/changed the way you think? What would your life/community be like without the journalism that Fairfax produces?
  • Who are the Fairfax journalists you always read/trust?
  • How important is fearless, independent journalism? What will be the impact of the takeover on investigative journalism and does it increase the risk of that independence being compromised by the commercial interests of the proprietor or its advertisers?
  • What else do you think the ACCC should consider when ruling on this takeover, and what would you like the ACCC to do?
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