If you haven’t been asked to submit a self taped audition yet Grasshopper, chances are you will be soon enough.
It’s the way the industry is going.
Last week, I told you about a new digital wave that is hitting the industry that almost no one saw coming.
Today we are going to talk about a different digital wave that hit a long time ago but that most actors simply ignored (to their detriment).
It’s the self taped audition.
Around the time that YouTube went mainstream, a lot of video contests came around. Fans of shows were being asked to submit their own skits for what would happen on next week’s episode, bands solicited fan made music videos and ran contests, and all kinds of stuff came about.
That’s when the casting offices realized how they could make the audition process much more efficient by asking actors to do the same.
That is how the era of self taping came to be.
With all of its inherent flaws, self taping is not going anywhere and if you are serious about making it in the industry, you have to master the self taped audition.
There is a formula to this and if you get it right, the sky is the limit.
Get it wrong, and your natural talent will simply not shine through and your career progress could be incredibly hindered.
Without further ado, this is how you master the self taped audition…
The biggest mistake that you can make is to treat the self taped audition as if it were a traditional audition.
Remember that your performance will be seen through a screen, and it has to explode off of that screen.
In a traditional audition, your personality and your performance will fill the room. In a self taped audition, you really have to amp things up and over-perform to compensate for this.
BOOM! There is something that no one else would dare tell you.
Start with a few warm up rounds in front of the mirror and then tape yourself. The performance you thought was stellar in the mirror, will seem completely flat on screen.
Do several takes until you get your performance to the level where it jumps out of the screen, grabs the viewers attention, and holds it mercilessly.
A huge difference between a traditional audition and a self taped one is that, you can typically at least get through the entire piece when you are reading in person.
It’s much more difficult to ask someone to leave the room without finishing, than it is to simply press the next button on a self taped audition.
So, if you don’t grab the viewers attention form the start, the rest of your tape may never see the light of day. In a traditional audition setting, you have the ability to crescendo.
Not so with a self tape.
You have to start strong, hit your crescendo and then finish strong too.
That is the master self tape formula.
This may not even matter if your environment is not up to par.
Be sure that you’re not filming in front of a cluttered room or against a busy backdrop. Always film against a solid color if you can, and always film indoors.
Follow the slate instructions to a T and rehearse the slate, along with the piece you are reading.
You will want to use a single continuous shot, and if you don’t rehearse your slate along with the piece you’re reading, then it will throw you off rhythm and you will have a much harder time getting a take that you’re happy with.
Also, ensure that the shot matches the action in the scene. If you must fall to your knees after being assaulted in the scene, then you want to be sure that the camera will capture your reaction to that.
If it is a traditional piece, then feel free to either sit or stand and capture from your torso upwards, while keeping at least a couple inches of frame above your head.
Nothing ruins a self taped audition like bad audio. Unless you’re shooting on a sound stage, you are going to have echo and background noise.
There are 2 ways you can fix that.
- Master audio production and buy fancy software to clean up the audio
- Invest $10 or $20 into a Lav mic on Amazon. It will clean up your audio big time, adding to your performance instead of distracting from it [with poor audio]
Lastly, consider a lighting setup. These are also really inexpensive if you do the research and can greatly add to your performance. You won’t have to counteract dark eye-circle expressions if you have proper lighting.
3 lights will do the trick.
Place one directly in front of you and place the other two at about 45 degrees to your left and your right.
If you don’t want to spring for the shaded lights, then some scoop spotlights with parchment paper will do the trick, while saving you a few bucks.
I don’t like the self taped audition because it shifts a lot of the burden on to you: the actor. I firmly believe that most of this should rest with the studio that is casting the project.
However, it does allow you the leeway to have multiple chances to “get it right.”
Nonetheless, it’s a necessary evil for the long foreseeable future.
More and more productions are going this route every day, so it’s important that you master this type of audition.
Remember that, whether it’s a self taped audition or a traditional one, the casting director will do some digging before deciding to take you to the next step in the process.
Be sure that your industry reputation matches your goals.
This is even more important in a self taped audition when you don’t have a chance to interact with the CD.
Look, I expect the union to take some kind of action on this in the next few years… but who can wait that long?
Even when they do take some action, who knows what that will be. Best case scenario, they would force the casting office to callback a large percentage of self taped actors. That still wouldn’t solve all the problems with this nor would it even cover all of us.
So, rather than waiting around for something to change, take charge of your career and master the self taped audition process using what I’ve shared with you in this special report.
If you do this, then your self taped auditions will be stellar.
Just be sure that your industry reputation reinforces your audition, rather than detract from it.
See you at the top,