Best Practices for a Self-Tape

Self-Tape Tips

Here are the Top 10 Tips to Creating a successful Self-Tape.

Please review our Camera Ready page for tips on Wardrobe, Hair and Makeup.

    Film Horizontally

    Casting requests you film your self-tape horizontally.


    MEDIUM SHOT: Film yourself from the middle of your chest to 1 inch above your head. There should not be a lot of space above your head. A Medium shot is standard for most self tapes.

    If you film yourself wider, then before submitting edit the video by zooming in to the middle of your chest to about 1 inch over your head.

    Where to Look

    THEATRICAL: For film, TV, series, webseries, or anything theatrical, you should look slighting to the left or the right of the camera lense. We should still see your entire face, your eyes are just slightly looking to the left or the right. You do NOT look directly into the camera. 

    COMMERCIAL: If you are auditioning for a commercial, then you can look directly into the camera lense.


    You should film with a plane, neutral background. A plane white, grey, blue or neutral wall works great.

    If you have a gray bedsheet, put that on the wall as an alternative to a photo backdrop.

    Oops: If you can’t find a blank wall or put up a bedsheet, then please do the following. 

    • Remove all clutter off of counters.
    • Take all logos out of view.
    • Make sure your background fits the theme of the shoot which is typically family friendly.


    There are tons of great lights that you can obtain for auditions. A simple light is to use a Ring Light to illuminate your face. Your face should be well lit.

    RING LIGHT: Try to use a ring light and make sure your face is well lit.

    • White lights✅
    • Light-Yellow lights✅

    NATURAL LIGHT: If you only have natural light please try to face a window so the light is shinging on your face.

    • No windows behind you.❌
    • Window in front of you. ✅
    • Make sure the light is not too bright and doesn’t glare.
    • If it’s night, then try to put on an indoor light that is bright on your computer desk.
    [Subtle cinematic lighting is fine as well where the light is on the face but allows a slight shadow on one side. Cinematic Lighting is a film lighting technique that goes beyond the standard three-point lighting setup to add drama, depth, and atmosphere to the story and to a self tape. This is an advanced technique, so if you are just getting started, focus on lighting your face directly and evenly from the front.]

    Know Your Lines

    As with an in-person audition, with a self-tape you should strive to memorize your lines. There are times when production will ask you to paraphrase lines or to improvise, but unless you are asked specifically to do this, you should aim to have your lines to be word perfect. If you are doing a self-tape the good news is you can pause and re-record.

    If you have a last-minute audition and need to keep your script in hand, try to keep your script off-camera by either taping it to your tripod or the wall so it is angled like a teleprompter. At a minimum memorize your very first and very last line so that you are looking up.

    Use a Reader

    When doing a theatrical self-tape, unless otherwise requested by casting, you should get a reader.  You only need one reader to read for all of the other characters. You should stand out, not your reader. They should NOT be on-screen but should either be on a Zoom call watching you and reacting to your read and physical actions, or if they are in person with you they should stand behind the camera. There are reading services that are 24 hours a day 7 days a week with virtual readers with other actors such as We should be able to hear your reader. A good reader can aid in the scene, help you react to what they are saying and help you stay in character. Try to get a good reader.

    (AUDIO RECORD YOURSELF: Alternative to a Reader: You can pre-record yourself saying the other parts and leave a quiet space for your character to respond.  Then do a self-tape video read with your audio recording. ONLY DO IF CASTING GAVE YOU LESS THAN 24 HOUR to complete. But get a reader if at all possible.)

    Commercial self-tapes often times do not need a reader. But be sure to review what casting says.

    Act Out the Actions & React to the Scene

    In a script there is dialogue and there are Action Lines. An action line is written to describe people, places, props, and sounds. Casting wants to see you interact with props (imaginary or actual props). You can use Imaginary props, and pretend like a person is there, or you can use substitute props such as a hand towel used as a substitute for a bandage, or you can use an actual prop where you bring a mug and drink water out of it. It is always recommended to use water instead of any other beverage in the script.

    (Note: NO, your reader does NOT read the actions out loud. Just give time and space for yourself to act out the action lines.)

    If the script details that the actor walks in and out of the scene; A simple one step forward or one small step to the side is all you need to show movement, these subtle changes, really makes you look like you are really in the scene and in the world of the screenplay. Your self tape should look exactly like what you would do if we filmed you for tv or film. If someone else is talking, casting wants to see what would you do while you are listening, are you happy, are you mad, are you multitasking while others talk, are you engaged into the conversation. If we filmed you, the camera will be on you, so your non-speaking parts are just as important as your speaking parts.


    Submit a Single Video with all Scenes and Takes

    Unless otherwise directed to by casting, you will typically submit all of your scenes one after the other in one video. There are tons of mobile and desktop editors that are free and will help you put your clips together. Some casting directors only want 1 take, but I would recommend sending in 3 very different and distinct takes. Not just your 3 best “word perfect” takes, but give a different style of side of the character. Possibly Take 1 will show that character is sleepy and trying to pay attention to the conversation. Take 2 could be that character hyper because they just drank an energy drink. Take 3 could be a very business professional acting as if they were in an interview. Make sure the emotions or character story (that still fits the character description) changes so you can completely think like and feel like the character. But ONLY submit 3 Takes if they are distinctly different. It’s not 3 takes of you trying to get the lines perfect, casting understands that, but what a new take is supposed to do is show a different side to the character, so casting can choose how they want you to perform. It also gives you a leg up because they know you have range and can do any other character style that they direct you in.

    File Type: The standard video file type is an mp4.

    Save Videos as an .mp4.

    For audio only projects save audio as a .mp3.


    If a slate is requested, put it at the beggining of your compiled single video. If requested by casting you can also submit your slate as a separate video by itself.

    If no slate is requested, consider putting your slate at the end of your scenes.

    A typical slate is simply you introducing yourself in your natural voice. You film it horizontally and frame the camera from the middle of your chest to 1 inch above your head. There is no need to turn to show your profiles if you were not asked to.

    You can say: “Hi my name is ____, I live in (City),  (State).”

    FULL BODY SLATE: If you are asked to show yourself full body, or to do your entire slate full body, then turn your camera vertically to film it, or if you have space leave your camera horizontal and move back until we can see 1 inch below your feet and 1 inch above your head. Be sure that there is no clutter in your room and you are standing on a blank wall. Here don’t worry too much about a fancy backdrop, but try to maintain good lighting on your face. Keep in mind that sometimes casting just wants 5 seconds of your full body shot, which is a video of you simply standing there and smiling. Your feet should be shoulder width apart or closer. Your hands at your sides. You can smile or if your role is serious, then smile through your eyes and keep a neutral face. After those 5 seconds, then when you edit, go back to the horizontal shot of your scene or the rest of your slate. Your slate will be edited like this.

    Final Edited Video when a Slate is Requested: [Horizontal Slate saying your name and location] [ Vertical full body 5 second video] [Take 1 with all scenes] [Take 2 with all scenes] [ Take 3 with all scenes].

    Final Edited Video when NO slate is requested: [Take 1 with all scenes] [Take 2 with all scenes] [ Take 3 with all scenes] [Horizontal slate saying your name and location].

    Only give a full body shot if specifically requested by casting.

    Hair & Makeup Tips

    Here are hair and Makeup Tips specifically for Set on a Hill Productions.


    BOYS: For Family Friendly Projects

    • Gelled back
    • Curled with curling Iron
    • Long Hair pulled back into a low back bun

    GIRLS: For Family Friendly Projects

    • There are a few options:
      • Pigtails that are front facing and curled
      • Curled hair with a curling iron
      • Blow dryed straight (If your hair doesn’t curl only)
      • Two High Buns
      • High Side Ponytail visible in the front and curled
      • Bows are great (No logos)

    MEN: For Family Friendly Projects

    • Edged up Beard. Please make sure your beard has clean lines and edges. Add product to your beard to make it shine.
    • Clean Shaven. If you don’t have a beard please be clean shaven.
    • Hair Gelled back or fully styled. Please add product.

    WOMEN: For Family Friendly Projects

    • Hair Down and curled
    • Hair Down and blow dried and flat ironed straight (If your hair doesn’t curl)



    • Touchup foundation to cover blemishes, marks, and pimples.
    • Please wear chap stick.


    • Touchup foundation for cuts and blemishes.
    • Please wear chap stick.


    • Lip Gloss with light color
    • Soft lipstick colors if you have them
    • Mascara and eye liner


    • Full Makeup (Please include eye liner, mascara, simple eye shadow, foundation.)
    • (Short lashes for Women if you have them.)