So let me guess you have received that email from your agent for a casting and they need it WeTransferred by tomorrow? How did you feel? Terrified, unsure, awkward, rushed, scared? Well, If you’re able to start your preparation now and get the necessary equipment ready, you’ll be good to go the next time the call comes in.
Our offices here at JLDA are on fire ? this pilot season! Our actors are being put on tape constantly, as our team is competing in a never ending triathlon, going from submitting and pitching, to confirming one audition to another, reviewing multiple audition tapes at once before sending in to casting, while racing the clock to meet every deadline! Needless to say we need our actors to know how to self tape and be GOOD at it!
Now the acting part that is up to you and how good of an actor you really are, but the other stuff we can definitely help!
01. A Solid Color Backdrop
It’s very important to avoid backgrounds that are busy or distracting from the most important thing on screen and that is YOU! We recommend a grey solid backdrop, as grey is the most flattering color for all skin tones. Don’t worry there is no need to purchase a fancy, expensive, professional studio backdrop. A solid grey bed sheet like the one here will work perfectly! Just use tape, velcro or wall tacks to secure it in place, from 3 free above your head, on a solid wall, where you set up to film!
02. Camera and Audio
You will need to use a camera for your self tape as you need to look your best! A lot of people have a DSLR that also records video and these are great! They pick up a lot of light, have shallow depth of field and most have an external microphone input, allowing you to capture clean and crisp audio for your audition tape. A lavalier mic can plug right into your phone. TRY THIS ONE
Expert Tip: if you choose to use an iPHONE or tablet to record your audition make sure you are always use it in landscape (horizontal) mode – everyone is used to watching footage on tv/monitors in this orientation.horizontal and never vertical )
Never film in a dark room with poor lighting. A dark self-tape making it hard for the casting director to see your face is certainly a deal breaker. We recommend purchasing a dimmable LED ring light, that comes equipped with a stand and iPhone holder! TRY THIS ONE!
Expert Tip: swap out ‘Warm Light’ Globes for ‘White light’ globes in household lamps for a purer light source. TRY THESE!
If you use your iPhone, put it on a tripod (cheap), buy an adapter and clip it HORIZONTALLY. That is the industry standard. Using a tripod will keep your audition tape steady and also allows you to adjust the height, ensuring that your framing is at a perfect medium shot. Mid-chest to top of head. Simple, easy, helps the viewer focus on the subtlety of the actor.
05. A Reader
Never submit an audition with gaps in the dialogue (leaving it up to the viewer to fill in the blanks in between your lines). It’s really helpful if you have an actor friend to read opposite you, preferably of the correct gender for the role. Have them sit/stand next to the camera so that your eye-line is in the right place close to the lens.
SIGHTLINE. Never look right into camera, except for the SLATE. Place the reader directly next to the camera, and read to that person.
EMAILING TO YOUR AGENTS: The title of the file, and the subject of the email should be: Name_Project_Role. That is how they like it. Unless the directions say otherwise.