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By Marci Liroff

I’m seeing an epidemic of extremely uncomfortable actors in casting offices across the globe. Actors who are seemingly adept at tackling Shakespeare to Mamet have one major problem—slating. One would think, “My gosh, how hard could it be? You just say your name, height, representation, and whatever other info is asked of you.” Yet, time and time again I see actors tripped up by this simple task. Grown men brought to their knees by merely having to say their name to the camera.

Let me help you be a pro. Instead of standing there and feeling like you’re naked and the skin on your face is being peeled back, try slating as your character. As an actor, it’ll give you something more to grab on to.

I’ve talked to several actors about this phenomenon and they tell me that standing there just being themselves is sometimes too intimate for them to handle. They feel vulnerable and miss the security of being able to slip into another’s skin to play a character. They feel silly and awkward and it shows.

If you’re self-taping, follow the directions exactly. For my office, we ask for a full body shot, so make sure your camera is far enough away from the actor to be able to pan down from their head to their feet in one shot. If they ask for a profile make sure to do that as well. Then come back up to the actor’s face in a medium close-up (chest up) and look right at the camera and state your name, height, present location (i.e. I want to know if I’ll need to fly you out from Kansas if that’s your location), if you can be considered a local hire, and your representation. Many casting offices ask for your age but, truth be told, that’s actually illegal. If you’re under 18 and a minor you should state that. Likewise if you’re under 18 but can work as “legal 18” we need to know that.

Keep the audition scenes separate from your slate.

Make sure to keep your slate as a separate scene and not roll right from your slate into the scene—that signals an amateur.

Nowadays, many casting offices already have your profile page set up online ahead of time so you don’t have to slate. Nonetheless, it’s a good skill to develop so that you’re comfortable with it.

Australian actor Lucy Fry, whom I cast in the upcoming film “Vampire Academy,” is probably one of the best “slaters” I’ve ever seen. She seems self-assured, confident, and truly connects with the camera. She shared her process with me. “It’s the only chance you ever get to look directly at the lens, so I try to channel the energy of the character with warmth and confidence so the people watching it can see the way the character sits in me through the eyes. I try to let myself be seen without pushing a fake smile or worrying about what anyone thinks. I am nervous, so I take a breath before I speak and wait a microsecond to feel ready to speak so I am not rushing into it. I guess I treat it like a scene. I try to fill it with the same energy that I would any action as the character because focusing on energy, the breath, and the character makes it feel easier.

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can take it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Please share your comments on slating and how you overcome feeling awkward!

Glad you’re here – Marci


  1. I loved what Lucy said about slating! Great post Marci!

  2. Does keeping the slate as a separate scene mean turning the camera off and then back on?

  3. Hi, what does it mean to say if you can be considered a local hire? Thank you! 🙂

    • Marci Liroff says

      Let’s say we’re shooting a movie on location (meaning not Hollywood). If you live locally to that town, you’d be a “local hire”. We usually hire the lead actors from Hollywood/NY/London and then will hire the dayplayers (one day roles) on location. If you lived in the town where we’re shooting you have a good chance of getting an audition. OR, if you’re in Los Angeles and you have a place to stay on the location we’re shooting and can be considered a local hire, you should tell us that.

      • Hi Ms. Liroff,
        In regard to “local hire,” do you consider actors through Actors Access or Now Casting for Leading or supporting roles who are out of LA, NY or London? I have flown to NY and ATL for auditions and jobs but unfortunately I am unable to move to LA permanently. I am ready to book bigger jobs. Help

        • It has to do with where we’re shooting. I work off of my own lists of ideas along with submissions from agents and managers thru Breakdown Services. If I have to go wider then I do an open call through any and all means. But when I need to cast locals, I cast actors that actually LIVE in the location we’re shooting because we can’t afford to fly them in, house them and pay them per diem. If we’re shooting in L.A., I’m not going to hire outside L.A. for a small(er) role.

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