What are a Self-Tape and Reel?

Published: 21st Oct 2022

Models Direct explains what a self-tape and reel are and the best practices to use when submitting one.

The casting process has evolved. Talent (models and actors) would have turned up (on time!) to a casting audition located somewhere near or far. Wherever it was, you’d have to attend to be considered for the role. This trend has changed and particularly fuelled further with the onset of the pandemic. Covid pushed for more remote methodologies to be in place and with the casting process, as an example, the self-tape has become a more common method of submitting an audition from wherever you are in the world!

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Reels are different. They are fun videos to share with family and friends or anyone on Instagram. You can record and edit 60-second multi-clip videos with plenty of creative tools (AR effects, speed, timer and countdown and align) and audio, sharing them with your followers on Feed and the wider Insta community via Explore. They’re a great way of expressing yourself and letting your voice and personality shine.

So, what’s a self-tape then?

In a nutshell, it’s an audition you record of yourself following a set of instructions as directed by casting agents – yup, an audition tape! It brings with it many benefits as opposed to turning up in person. Self-tapes are easier for those who are not nearby to the venue (thus eliminating travel expenses and stress), multiple auditions can be submitted within a smaller time frame, and the best thing of all, you can re-do a self-tape as many times as you like!

How do you go about composing a self-tape?

The set of instructions will usually start by asking you to introduce yourself (your name, age, location), and your agency, pausing for a front, right and left profile of yourself. There may be additional things to say or extra modelling poses to do but remember, if there are any lingerie, partial or full nudity requests, then please turn the “opportunity” down.

Note: Stick to ONLY what’s been requested, don’t be tempted to move away from the instructions and add in extra in hope of impressing the casting team. This will be flagged as not following instructions properly which will not impress the team. Watch your video back and ensure you have covered absolutely everything that’s been asked.

Capture it in landscape mode

A self-tape is best shot in landscape mode as portrait mode can distort the overall video quality. You don’t want it to land in your casting director’s inbox (or agent’s if you are sending it for review first) looking fuzzy or blurry. Let’s be honest, it’s off-putting and chances are the team may move on to the next self-tape if they’re pressed for time.

It’s okay to use your smartphone

Most people have a device that can perform basic tasks producing high-quality results. You don’t need expensive gadgets to compose a self-tape. Try not to be tempted to use the most powerful resolution when recording yourself as this may not be compatible with your recipient’s device. The file may be too large or distorted and cause problems viewing and listening to your self-tape. Instead, opt for the standard setting as this is the safest mode to ensure it will open without technical issues.

Natural lighting, please

It’s an obvious one but we have to include this. Casting directors need to see you clearly where ample light and no shadows are overcasting your face or body. Ensure your background is clear of other people (because the focus is meant to be on you), pets and clutter. Ideally, choose a light backdrop or in front of a natural setting outside, accompanied by no background noise.

These points are obvious but we have to reiterate them for the benefit of all models reading this. We want you to get booked as much as you do. Remember to relax, be yourself and smile. If you need a hand with anything, please get in touch with our MD team and we’d be happy to help – good luck and happy filming!!!

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