Get Those Self Tapes Down

Photo by George Milton:

[NoHo Arts District, CA] – This month’s acting blog from Fran Montano of Actors Workout Studio focuses on “Get those self tapes down.”

With the entertainment industry opening up and Covid no longer stopping production, show business is getting back to normal. Or I should say, we are in the new normal. By that I mean self tapes for auditioning. This is now the new normal. Producers and casting directors can save a lot of money on office space, receptionists, gas and travel. It’s also a good way to see out-of-town actors. 

So self tapes are here to stay. 

With that is a new audition technique. Yes, new and different. The craft of auditioning for casting directors and producers was to master the craft of working live, with a casting director or reader, usually with a script in hand. You either had it memorized or were good at picking up the words off the script as you went. You also had to be good at improvising in the moment and working with someone who most likely was not even an actor. There was also a generous creative license, meaning the casting process was very forgiving as it was accepted practice for auditions that actors would be reading with a script in hand. So, actors needed to be good at that. It was an art of its own. Even if you had it memorized, actors would hold the script so the audition was shown to the producers as such. And subconsciously producers and casting people would view the audition with, “great read, great potential.” It could actually hurt an actor to not have the script with them because they would give a perception that the audition was the final performance vs judging it as good choices, great possibilities.

That has all changed. There is a new game in town. They want to see a great presentation, a performance of the work. So that means memorizing the lines or reading off the script on the monitor, or attached to the screen, like a teleprompter, without it being noticed!  Production value also needs to be considered – good lighting, background, sound, and editing.

Actors need to be good at this. No, they need to be excellent at it. It is the new way. Yes, the production value needs to be good, but the acting needs to be great. 

I’ve seen so many self tapes, the look is great, good lighting, good sound, even good editing, but if the acting isn’t there, it doesn’t work. 

Your acting needs to “pop,” meaning fresh, spontaneous, and natural. I see too many “technically” good tapes but they just aren’t spontaneous.

If you’re doing a lot of auditioning with self tapes and not getting the response you want, it’s probably your self tape skill.  I’ll speak more about this in future blogs.  You might need to find a good coach. 

Be good to yourself, this is a new artistic craft that actors need to master.

Fran Montano
Actors Workout Studio

Fran Montano
Fran Montano - is the owner and Artistic Director of The Actors Workout Studio, located in the NoHo Arts District for nearly 30 years. It is one of the longest running small, intimate theaters and Acting Schools in the Los Angeles area. AWS was created to being a “home” for aspiring and working actors were the work not only includes classes and training, but personal coaching, career planning, networking, showcasing, and regular performing. His students range from beginning actors, accomplished actors who work regularly in film, television, and stage, as well as numerous working directors and writers. His style is on an individual basis and in his small, intimate classes, it’s like working with a private coach. His reputation is in finding and breaking actors blocks Fran’s background as an actor, in producing, directing and theater makes him an excellent resource for actors in Los Angeles, in finding their way both in their talent, and promoting their career. Visit for more information and a schedule of classes and productions