"After working with numerous actors to produce hundreds of self-tapes in the last few years, I've learned what works and what doesn't when it comes to submitting your best audition. Here are some tips I've compiled to help you put your best foot forward." --Kate, founder of Theatrik
Lighting is key.
- If the casting director can't see you, then what is the point? Make sure there is ample light in the room where you are recording. This might mean you need to move extra lamps into the room and/or position yourself facing a window. Make sure all light sources are in front of you rather than behind, otherwise you will end up backlit.
Sound is important.
- As with the lighting, sound is equally important. Most cell phones will pick up your sound clearly as long as you are not sitting too far away from your device. You might find that using a lavalier microphone is helpful, but for standard at-home setups one is usually not necessary.
Position yourself a couple of feet in front of your background.
- Sitting/standing directly against a wall or backdrop causes a noticeable shadow. For a more professional look, allow at least a couple of feet between yourself and the background to avoid shadows.
Be as off book as possible.
- Casting directors' preferences vary when it comes to whether or not you should hold your sides. The safest bet? Be memorized. This is especially important for a self-tape when you can do as many takes as you want. If a casting director watches an actor struggling for lines in a self-tape, they'll wonder why that person didn't just re-record. If you do not have enough time to memorize before your your submission is due, then hold the sides out of frame so you can refer to them if necessary.
Keep it simple.
- The casting director wants to see YOU, not your living room, your pets, or the box full of props you're thinking about using. Keep the frame clear of any unnecessary objects. When it comes to props, the best solution is the most simple one: don't use them. Props can often be distracting and take away from your performance. If the prop is crucial to the scene (i.e. a cell phone to make a call) then make sure when you use it you don't block your face from the camera. Focus on being in the moment and telling the story rather than worrying about filling your frame with props.
Invest in professional equipment.
- As more and more first-round auditions are taking place via self-tapes, it's important that you have the necessary equipment to submit a quality file. A solid color backdrop, adequate lighting and a tripod for your camera or phone are the main components needed to set yourself up for success. Theatrik offers self-tape equipment in various sizes allowing for use at home or on-the-go...because you never know when you'll receive a self-tape request.
Send a downloadable file.
- Pay close attention to the file instructions you receive regarding how your audition is to be sent. Most agents/casting directors/producers will request a link to a downloadable file. You'll need to compress your file down to a reasonable size (under 100 mb is a good baseline to follow, but some files will be larger based on the length of the audition). An .mp4 format will usually be the best option in terms of reducing the file size. WeTransfer is a wonderful platform for converting your file into a link, and the best part? Their service is free!
Check out our blog post "Answers to Your Self-Tape Questions: Part One" for more insight into recording your own auditions.