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Self Taping Tips

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

Self tapes are becoming an industry norm, so it's time to level up your game and deliver a professional, quality, competitive self-taped audition. It starts with being well prepared, even if it requires a quick turnaround. Here are some tips to make you shine:


Location

  • Have an area set up for self-tape.

  • Find somewhere quiet to eliminate background noise. Silence your phone.

  • Use a plain, neutral, solid background. Don't use bright white as it reflects shadows.

  • Don’t have anything that could distract from your performance. Keep it simple and clutter free. No posters on the wall and/or toys in the background. You want the Casting Director to focus on you.

Lighting

  • Try to use natural lighting and make sure you can see yourself

  • If you're using lighting equipment, put the lights a little above eye level, on either side of the camera, and use daytime fluorescent bulbs. It’s all about the eyes, so make sure they are clearly lit and in focus.

  • Eliminate harsh shadows. Don't film yourself against a window as when it's bright outside, your garden will look beautiful, but you'll be in silhouette.

  • Be careful of overhead lighting. It creates strong shadows under your eyes and chin.

  • Don’t be backlit as this puts your face in a shadow. Your goal is to be seen clearly.

Shooting

  • For your camera, always use landscape (the shape of a cinema screen), no portrait.

  • Use a tight medium frame. The frame should be from the chest up. Be still. Think it and feel it, and the camera will capture it.

  • Don’t pan, and don’t do any handheld. Lock the frame and keep it simple. Too much movement is distracting from your performance. You may need to prop your phone up on a book, or buy a cheap tripod ($20 on Amazon), and an iPhone clip.

  • Eye lines. The camera should be at eye level, not below, not above. Never look directly into the camera in a scene unless the stage directions specifically say so or you are doing a certain type of read. For film, make the reader the main character in the scene, and connect to that person. If there is another character, imagine someone standing directly on the other side of camera.

Performance

  • Don't overthink it.

  • Set a time limit. Half-hour to an hour max. Be as prepared as possible when you start taping (memorized, strong choices), so that you don’t waste time messing up lines.

  • Own the part. If you don't own the part, you're never going to get it.

  • Make it as natural as possible. Don't just stand there talking to the camera.

  • Sit or stand. It’s a medium shot, so it doesn’t matter, unless it affects your energy. Sometimes if you stand it gives you the scene more life, as a chair or sofa tends to zap the energy. Go with whatever feels right.

  • Get a good reader. Try to find someone who is an actor (a good one) to sit off-camera and read the scene with you. Make sure when they are reading they are quieter than you, as they will be right next to the camera, and you want the voices to balance out. Also, make sure the reader doesn’t read the stage directions.

  • If you can’t get an actor to read in, have the person reading opposite you to do it in their natural, raw voice and not attempt to do accents.

  • Make sure the person reading off-camera isn't over-delivering.

  • If you’re going to use props, limit their use and don’t use too many.

  • Slate separately. It’s always better to separate the slate and the scenes, and film as separate takes. It allows a break so you can really get into the character before rolling the camera for your first scene. The slate is directly into camera (name, age, role, agency, etc.). The scenes are to the reader sitting next to the camera. Also, don’t slate in character. Be cool, be natural—be someone the client would want to work with.

  • Check the slate instructions. Sometimes the casting director wants something very specific with the slate, like a full body shot, or a tight close-up and profiles. Make sure you read the original email carefully. If the instructions are to send via YouTube or Vimeo, make sure it’s a private link. If you are uploading into iMovie, you can send directly to Vimeo or YouTube from that application. Name your file correctly.

  • Always watch it back before sending. You never know if there will be a tech problem. Make sure it looks and sounds good, and is in focus. You want this to be as professional as possible.

  • Look your best. Treat it like a real audition. Make yourself camera ready (hair, makeup, outfit).


Courtesy: https://www.spotlight.com/news-and-advice/tips-and-advice/everything-you-need-to-know-about-self-taping-updated/






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