Very independent Filmmaking – Simplifying the Audition Process

Auditioning must be one of the most unnatural and stressful parts of the filmmaking process. 

No one enjoys it, except perhaps the places that provide the spaces, the online sites that facilitate the process, some casting directors and a very few masochistic actors and directors.  

But of course, it is probably the only way you are going to see a large selection of actors quickly and with as little pain as possible for all involved….or is it?

I have just recently fallen in love with the self-tape.  Lately, it’s become more and more prevalent industry wide.  It used to be a backup, in case an actor was out of town working or just couldn’t get out of their day job or the director was too busy or not enthusiastic enough to come to the first pass of auditions.  But now it’s become an acceptable and in some cases preferential way for filmmakers and actors to meet without the “fakeness” of the audition culture.  Unless you are some kind of auditioning savant, most auditions can only ever give you the minutest of chances of matching the project with the perfect actor painlessly.  This is why most projects further up the food chain don’t really audition at all, the leads at least, relying on people they know, have worked with before or who are already attached via studio/money. 

Well us very, very independent filmmakers can also forgo the uncomfortable silences and the general awkwardness of the audition and plump for the ease and tranquillity of the self-tape.  What could be more civilized in fact?  The actor has time and opportunity to do their best possible work and without the leering, obtuse or, very possibly, the utterly uninterested gaze of the “casting” portion of your production team and moves directly on to you, the writer/director/producer….perfection.

But then what, I hear you ask?

Well, once you have whittled down the enemy…just kidding…I mean once you have made a few well-chosen selections as possible cast then I prefer a meet-up.  I’m sure you know a coffee shop that lets you linger with a few million refills…there are a couple that I have discovered, hit me up if you want the lowdown…and no, they are not all staffed by actors. 

The self-tape gives you the closest thing to what an actor can give you on set I believe, once they have the opportunity to prepare, to study and to give you there very best, which is what we all want after all.  I know there are some actors who are always good, but at least with the self-tape, they get to give their best performance and you can, without the stress of having to think about who shows up and who doesn’t, too many actors and too little time, or worrying about your meter etc. 

When it really comes down to it, casting is a mucky business and we’d all like to skip it and go straight to the first day of filming.  Self-tape can get you as close to that as humanly possible with a little more grace and a little less time suck…thank the gods!!

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a British writer and filmmaker living In Los Angeles.