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The Essentials

Frank Moiselle’s top tips for how to audition well, how to make a self-tape, and what a good showreel looks like

Casting director Frank Moiselle has worked on exciting projects, such as TV shows Penny DreadfulVikingsThe Tudors and The Borgias. We spoke to Frank and asked him what advice he has for actors looking to get work through self-tapes, showreels and auditions. Here’s what he had to say.

How to do Well in an Audition

It’s seen as vital to impress a casting director in an audition, and the pressure to do so may cause you to act and behave differently to how you normally would. This is why Frank encourages that, when auditioning, “Just come in and be yourself.”

Casting directors will see dozens of brilliant actors during the audition stage, so it will be you as a person and the uniqueness you bring that will make you stand out.

Other than this, Frank expects that actors, “Should know the role, they should know the part. That should have been prepared.”

Learn your lines, know the context of the scene and your character.

If you’d like some more advice, take a look at our guides on how to prepare audition sides and how to audition with confidence.

What Casting Directors Look for in Self-Tapes

Unlike an audition, a self-tape isn’t over when the performance ends. You have to edit it and name it properly, and you also have the chance to redo it to ensure it’s the best it can be.

Frank prefers performers to, “Be off book,” and, when it comes to filming your self-tape, he advises you to “Shoot it properly, have it properly lit… Do it in landscape format, do not do it in portrait format.”

The number one piece of advice we hear from casting directors is to always film in landscape format with your camera in a horizontal position.

Take the time to learn how to light yourself when self-taping and read our tips for finding freedom within self-tapes.

Once your self-tape is filmed, Frank recommends that you, “Don’t have a whole load of stuff at the beginning and end. Trim it properly, but don’t end it abruptly.”

Adding a ‘fade out’ or a similar effect to the end of the self-tape is a good idea, as is minimising any silence at the beginning where you may be getting into character.

If you’re unsure how to edit a self-tape, take a look at our handy editing guide for self-tapes and showreels.

Finally, Frank stresses, “Make sure [your self-tape] is logically named. Maybe your name, [then] the name of the role. Don’t just say ‘Movie 1’ or something like that.”

We have more advice about naming your self-tape video files should you need it.

What to Include in a Showreel

It’s difficult to say with complete certainty what makes a good showreel, as different casting professionals will want different things. However, there are some general aspects that will always be desirable to include or exclude from a showreel.

Montages, for example, should definitely not be included. Frank says, “I don’t need a montage of musical stuff at all. I need the scenes.”

These scenes should be carefully selected to ensure they focus on you. There’s no point including footage where you were an extra or lurking in the background the whole time.

Frank says, “I don’t want to be seeing scenes where someone else has been featured!” – he wants to see you!

Avoid your showreel being too long. Casting professionals are busy people and won’t have time to sit through long showreels. Frank advises, “Two minutes is long enough, three minutes is plenty.”

Take a look at our video on acting showreel tips from casting directors for more advice about how to make a good showreel.

What Makes a Good Headshot

Most importantly, a headshot needs to be an accurate representation of how you currently look. Frank says, “The key thing about a headshot is it must represent what you look like.”

A casting director will expect the person from your headshot to walk into the audition room, so if you don’t look like your headshot, then that photo shouldn’t be on your Spotlight profile.

As for how to take a good headshot, Frank recommends that, “It should be properly lit and you could possibly do it outside or inside [a] studio.”

If you’re taking a photo yourself, you don’t want to be somewhere dimly lit or with a distracting background, like a bathroom.

Take a look at our guide to taking an amateur photo yourself or read YellowBellyPhoto’s tips for preparing for a professional headshot shoot.

From all of us at Spotlight, a big thank you to Frank Moiselle for his audition, self-tape and showreel advice! 

You can find more tips from casting directors in the News and Advice section of our website.

Image credit: Jonathan Hession / Showtime