There has been a huge increase in the use of self tapes and recently we have had a ton of requests for self tapes for film and TV projects both in this country and abroad, so here are some tips and industry advice to really nail it – we give as much notice as we are given for taping and whilst we understand the short notice given sometimes, we know that most people now have access to a smart phone (which is essentially all you need) – NB try and not self tape using a PC/Computer camera, it’s very different from a camera phone and doesn’t look as professional.
Self-tapes will be seen not just by Casting Directors but Producers, Directors, and Show Runners – like a casting, they will be remembered for future projects so do make sure they are the best they can possibly be. We have had partners enquired about and called in for jobs from a previous self tape.
As casting director Howard Meltzer says, “The self-tape has to be good, if not better, than the actors we are possibly seeing in the room.”
All self-tapes should be shot horizontally, no exceptions.
Casting should be able to see your face, eyes, and expression. Don’t shoot too close or too far, get it just right and shoot from the waist up.
According to CD Carol Goldwasser, when casting asks for a full-body shot,“[they] don’t want to see a head and then a chest and then legs and then shoes. I want the camera to get the entire person in the frame at one time.”
I can’t tell you how many self-tapes I’ve seen that are shot in front of closets, in a bathroom or cluttered kitchen, a living room etc. All of this is wrong. A self-tape should be filmed in front of a blank wall of neutral color.
They want to be looking at you, not trying to figure out what’s hanging behind your head.
If you want, invest in a very simple lighting kit. Add a small mic to your iPhone or digital camera. Watch out for back- ground noise from traffic, lawn mowers, and barking dogs.
Pick a reader who has great diction. Even though you’re the one auditioning, bad reading will bring the tape down. And make sure your reader stands to the immediate right or left of the camera, and brings their volume down a bit. This will put your eyeline close to the camera lens without looking directly into it so casting can see your expressions and ensure the reader isn’t talking over you. If you can’t find a reader, let us know. We will do it with you. (our partners only!)
Wear solid, bright colors. Avoid white (it reflects too much). No hats, crazy makeup, excessive patterns, or flashy jewelry. Dress to suggest the character.
Anger and sadness are more nuanced than just yelling. Find other dimensions to bring to a feeling.
Lowering your head to convey a feeling is okay, but don’t keep it down for too long. We need to see your eyes and emotions. Casting often views a move like this as bad acting, assuming you don’t know how else to demonstrate a feeling.
Unless specified you should be off-book for a self-tape.
If you want to take self taping to the next level, here are some things you could consider:
* having a look at Casting Director Manuel Puro’s 21 day self tape Challenge – http://www.purocasting.com/the-acting-habit/the-21-day-self-tape-challenge
* buying an adaptor and tripod for fixing your phone to.
* if you don’t have bare walls, buy a sheet and bulldog clip it to the wall to cover anything up.
* you can get an external smart phone microphone for added sound quality.
* get together with fellow actors and have regular self tape sessions