It seems like an easy task, but you'd be surprised by some of the mistakes actors make all the time...
Note before reading: all these tips come from an actual casting associate!
A slate is something that is required in almost every single self-tape you send. A typical slate will include either a medium shot (head and shoulders) or a full body shot of you saying your name, your height, and where you are located. Each casting director will ask you to give different information depending on what they need to know, so pay attention to the whole email for changes!
That leads me to my first point about slating, this is THE MOST IMPORTANT and THE EASIEST tip to follow...
Tip #1 - Follow ALL the instructions
Casting looks at many different factors when watching your self-tapes. Yes, your acting skills are important, but they want to see what kind of employee you'll be on set. Like every job interview, being able to follow instructions is a great asset to have. When casting sends you the email with the instructions about what they want for the slate, follow those instructions to a tee. It's an easy "bonus point" for your tape, like writing your name on an essay! It's not a good look to stray away from the slate casting requested...
Tip #2 - Do not add or skip information
The reason slates are never exactly the same depends on the job you're auditioning for. If you're auditioning for a horse movie, they might ask for your level of riding experience in the slate. Or if they've hired other actors already, they might need to know your height in comparison to the rest of the cast.
Don't add information! Sometimes too much info can wreck your chances at the job! For example: If you're an over 18 actor auditioning for a high school student and you add your real age to your slate, you've ruined the magic for casting! They can't not look at your tape and see an adult...
The same goes for skipping information. Going back to the horse-back riding example: maybe you have zero experience and assume it's better not to say anything.... WRONG! Casting will either ignore your tape altogether no matter how great you were OR chase your agent to get the information they need, thus giving them more work to do.
Tip #3 - Be aware of the network you're auditioning for
You want casting to clearly see you as a part of the word they're trying to create, and even your slate can help you do that. If you're auditioning for a Hallmark TV movie, you can be friendly and bright in your slate. That same smiley slate won't help you for your dark-drama audition. It seems like a small moment to focus on, but having slates that don't fit the tone of the show can put off casting...
Tip #4 - No need to say "thank you"
This goes for self-tapes especially. Saying thank you as a part of your slate is unnecessary, and can be a little jarring for casting. Yes it's polite, but it might seem a little desperate!
Think of it this way: casting is asking you the actor to memorize a bunch of script pages within a day or two, then film your performance with specific filming requirements without getting paid.
The casting director/actor relationship is a partnership, not a boss/employee one!
If you have questions about how to self-tape, check out these other blog posts!
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