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The do’s and don’ts of quarantine auditions, according to casting directors

A clapper marks the beginning of a scene during a long-ago taping of "Dexter."
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, actors have been forced to audition almost exclusively remotely via video chat and self-tapes, filmed from home and submitted online. The Los Angeles Times recently spoke with casting directors Zora DeHorter, Carla Hool and Julia Kim about the keys to a successful self-tape audition, as well as common mistakes to avoid. Here’s what the casting experts had to say.

“Keep the background as simple as possible. I don’t want to be distracted by seeing your bedroom and things like that. Dedicate a wall, a simple wall ... muted colors are actually probably a little better because it pops your skin more.” — DeHorter

“Get creative on how to find someone to read opposite you. I would say that most casting directors would not favor having the same actor record themselves reading the other role, but it’s a way to go. When you have no other options, you could have somebody call and be on the phone reading opposite you. You could ... have a reader on Zoom opposite you.” — Kim

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“Good lighting and good sound. Sometimes actors will send tapes where they have echo, and it’s not good sound. So they need a space where they can find that and have someone read with them — out of frame, of course. Sometimes I get self-tapes where the actor who’s reading is in the tape with the actor, and that’s not good.” — Hool

“It’s a fine line between being too close, where you’re just a talking head, and too far that I can’t see the expressions on your face. So a mid-shot from like right below the shoulder on up so that we sort of have a sense of your body language.” — Kim

“Check your self-tape. Don’t just tape it and then send it off. That’s irresponsible. You have an opportunity now. It’s your tape. Watch it. Make sure it looks good. Make sure the sound is great. And then send it off.” — DeHorter


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