Self-Tape Tips: An Introduction
Actors know: self-tape auditions can be a blessing and a curse.
On the plus side: self-taping provides so much flexibility, (auditioning at midnight, after your shift is over and the kids have gone to bed? Hallelujah!) It alleviates some audition anxiety, (no intimidating waiting room stares,) and allows you to really take some time with the character, (I can do as many takes as I want? DREAM. COME. TRUE.)
On the other hand, self-taping can be a technical nightmare, (lighting, sound, UPLOADING?!) It can also be a MAJOR time suck because you end up taking TOO much time with the character. (15 takes of the same scene, is 12 takes too many.)
I began tweeting out some self-tape tips in an attempt to help simplify things and provide enough information that you can avoid some of the major traps. But there is so much more than 140 characters can cover. So, in this series of blog posts, I’ll consolidate and expand upon those tips and provide examples, wherever possible. (In all examples, actors faces have been whited-out to maintain anonymity – it’s not a series of weird, masked auditions.)
**DISCLAIMER: These tips pertain to when you are taping at home. If you don’t want to worry about any of these technical issues, there are a number of wonderful self-tape companies, as well as fabulous audition coaches (ahem) who will coach AND tape you.
The Self-Taping Technical Basics: Sound, Lighting, Frame and Backdrop.
This is what a normal audition looks like in our office:
You can see that our frame is fairly tight – from about the mid-bust/chest to just above the head. We use a softbox lights and plain blue paper as our backdrop. We also mic all of our actors with lavaliers.
This is a fairly standard casting set-up. There will, of course, be variations in every casting office, but this gives you a general idea.
The TECHNICAL goal of self-tapes is to make them look like they were done in a casting office.
(ANY casting/professional office – you don’t need to copy the photo above.)
This way, they won’t look markedly different than someone who came in to read live.
This is where your biggest hurdle lies when self-taping at home. Finding a blank wall, corralling all of your lamps to light you properly, dealing with sound, etc. The good news is that once you find a set-up that works, you won’t have to think about it every time. But it will take some tweaking to get there.
In my next blog post, I will give you some tips for working with what you’ve got at your disposal.
A whole bunch more self-tape tips comin’!