The Art of Self-Taping

As the television and film industry becomes more diverse with the emergence of streaming content, the demand for actors and actor submissions are at an all-time high. The wonderful thing about self submissions are that if casting directors release these casting notifications to public boards, they are generally a free for all. Meaning you can submit directly to the casting director via email. Essentially performing the work of an agent, on your own.

There are two ways you can self-submit. One is paying someone to record the audition for you and the other is to record it yourself, for free. Let’s talk about the latter.

So, you’re at your computer, you pull up Castar and you come across an audition that you believe is perfect for you. Under the submission notes it says self-submit but you’ve never done this before. Now what?

There are a few questions you want to ask yourself:

1) Do I have something to record my audition with?

2) Do I have a space where I can record my audition?

To paint the picture and allow you to get a better idea of how your material will be viewed by the casting director, let’s start at the end. When your audition reaches the inbox of the recipient, what they will notice in the first 5 seconds will go a long way in determining if the rest of your audition tape is worth viewing. Specifically speaking, the technical side of things. Are you well lit? Can they hear you? They might take the time to adjust their sound or they might just close your email and open the next one. So it’s better that you prepare for these during the taping process.

Before you entertain the thought of recording your own auditions, be sure to have a good camera with a built in microphone. Using your cell phone is permissible, but just make sure your phone is at a location close enough to you in order to fully pick up your audio. After that, choose a place that is well lit. I’ve come to find out that natural lighting works best for D.I.Y. self tapes. Recommended also is a solid neutral background. You want the focus to always be on you. Just remember that if your wall is gray then it’s best to not wear a solid gray shirt to avoid blending in. Next, get a tripod. Trust me, nothing is worse than viewing a shaky hand-held audition. Lastly, choose a reader. It is not a necessity to pick a male for a male role, or female for female. More importantly, be sure they are not too close to the microphone. You never want their voice to be more overpowering than yours.

Something else to keep in mind is your framing. From the middle of your chest to just above your head is perfect. Try not to choose a large room for your self tapes due to echoes. For sound quality control, the smaller the room the better.

And don’t be afraid to do a test before you record your actual audition. Say a few lines in position, take a seat, watch and listen to the footage. How is the volume? Is it too much light? Is my framing right?

Once you have these things in order, you’re well on your way to recording the perfect audition tape. Just keep in mind to take your time. The beauty of self-tapes is that you can go at your own speed. There is no reason to send in a sloppy, rushed performance. You are in complete control. Keep striving!

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