Today’s technology is allowing actors the convenience of self-taped auditions.
More and more casting directors are having actors send in their own self-taped auditions to be seen for the part without having to come in and audition in person; and with the changes caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic, pretty much every casting director has to come to terms and accept self-tape auditions to be the “new normal.”
If you’re a seasoned actor who is used to a more traditional way of auditioning in a casting room, you may find self-taping your audition a little dispiriting, especially due to lack of feedback and being able to “work the room.”
However, I promise that it does get easier and more comfortable the more you self-tape your auditions, and you’ll be an expert at it in no time!
As easy as recording your video and sending to casting may sound, (and it fairly is), there are things you can do to mess it up and never get invited to audition again if you don’t take the time to learn what is expected from you as a professional.
Pro Tip 1: Framing At Eye Level
When taping the performance, framing should be mid-chest to the top of the head. We should be able to tell the color of the actor’s eyes.
The overall goal of self-taped auditions is to re-create the reality of the environment, including appropriate eye lines for each person in the scene with you.
The reader can be one eye line and should be located slightly to the left or right of the camera. Do not read directly into the lens unless appropriate for the role (news anchor, Skype conversation, etc).
1. Best if the camera is at eye level.
2.Have your reader directly to the left or the right of the camera with their eyes in line with the lens.
3. Have the reader stand as close to the camera as possible, slightly in front of the camera if possible.
If the audition includes multiple scenes, please include all scenes and the slate in one file. The scenes should appear in the same order as they are in the sides.
Please place the slate at the END of the audition with a hard break (stop and restart camera) in between performance and slate.
The overall goal of self-taped auditions is to re-create the reality of the environment, including appropriate eye lines for each person in the scene with you. The reader can be one eye line and should be located slightly to the left or right of the camera. Do not read directly into the lens unless appropriate for the role (news anchor, Skype conversation, etc).
Video quality is very important. Shooting with a hi-def camera is ideal, but if necessary to use a cell phone or tablet, the device should be placed on a tripod and positioned horizontally, not vertically. Using a cell phone or tablet should be a last resort.
Lighting should be clear and balanced across the actor’s face. Use soft lighting if possible – avoid stark white light. Avoid shadows on wall/backdrop behind actor.
The sound must be clear. We recommend using a lavalier mic if possible. If not, please be sure that the mic is directed toward the actor.
A good reader is very important – use an actor if at all possible. Please have the reader read in a low tone so as not to overpower the actor. It is not the reader’s audition!
Please have actors audition one at a time. Having 2 or more actors audition for roles in the frame together does not work.
Since the goal of an audition is to create the reality of the scene, having lines memorized is ideal. Holding sides during an audition is acceptable but should not deter us from seeing your performance, which can be impeded if the actor is continuously referencing the sides.
Please let the audition play out in its entirety for the video. It helps if the camera stays on the actor for a couple of seconds after the audition to make sure we are seeing everything that is there.
Please tape in front of a light-colored, solid wall or backdrop (no distractions in the background!). Light blue, light green, or dark gray are best. No bright colors/black/white.
There is no need to use props during the audition. A cell phone is fine if scripted and appropriate for the scene.
No “costumes,” but wardrobe, hair and make-up should be appropriate and realistic for the role. Be careful that there is contrast between actor’s clothing and backdrop color.