IMG_3212Young performers often shine when auditioning in person, but struggle when self-taping a video audition, even when the material is exactly the same. The difference between the two lies in the opportunity to review and reshoot an imperfect moment. Comments you might hear at self-taping sessions include:

“You’re still talking too fast!”

“It’s supposed to be comedy, but I don’t get it!”

“You dropped a line again!”

That’s not me talking. These are the grumblings of young performers talking to themselves and the comments of their well-meaning parents. It is frustrating to shoot and reshoot the same material with little to show for the effort. With self-tapes and college audition video prescreens in greater demand than ever, it is critical for young actors and their families to understand how these videos are used in order to approach them with appropriate expectations.

Frustration begins when actors believe that their next big break relies on a perfect video submission. Don’t believe it. Here are two facts to consider:

1. Roles are seldom directly cast from video submissions. Audition videos are generally for screening purposes. Casting directors look for “real” young actors. Colleges look for potential, connection, and emotional truth. Perfection is not on anyone’s list. If your imperfect video suggests that you might have what they are looking for, you will, in all likelihood, get a callback.

2. Few are called back and fewer are cast. The big break you are expecting generally depends less on a perfect video audition and more on the specific criteria the casting director is looking for. Colleges consider factors beyond a student’s control as well, such as a balance of male to female students and a diverse student body. A candidate could submit a terrific performance, but not receive a callback because they lack one of the qualities the reviewers are seeking.

When a student and family accepts that their big break does not rely on a perfect video, their expectations for self-taping are likely to be more appropriate. Here is what you should expect from a typical videotaping session:

Natural performances are good performances. Expect encouragement from your coach to trust and follow through on your preparation rather than make significant adjustments. Practice does not make perfect when it comes to turning in a natural performance and broad changes typically lengthen the session with little result.

They are kids and they will mess up. Expect them to do just that. Sometimes the best moments are in the mistakes.

More takes is not always better. Expect limits on the number of takes to avoid burnout. The more hours spent on one video, the more forced, more tired, and less natural it becomes.

There is undeniable pressure to get the video right for a great role or to meet a college application deadline. Use that pressure as motivation to prepare well, not to demand perfection. Trust your performance and you’ll know when it’s right.  Then do what I do. Reach up for a high five and say, “It’s a wrap.”

Master your craft, empower yourself, enjoy the journey.

This article is reposted here with permission from