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Tips for Effective Self-Taping

Self-taping is definitely something that occurs in the auditioning process more and more these days. No matter where you live, being an expert in self-taping is a must! Today, actors are not only expected to provide a dynamic audition, but now, you must also be able to create a quality recording for taped auditions. Here are some tips to make sure you are ready to produce an effective self-taped audition, even in a time crunch.

The three most important things in doing a self-taped audition are:

  • We can see your face clearly – good lighting
  • Good sound quality so we can hear what you are saying
  • No distracting backgrounds

Ditch the Camcorder:
The camera on your smartphone or tablet can sometimes produce better quality than a traditional camcorder. But if you have a high quality camera, certainly you can use it to tape your auditions. If you can get a tripod, use it. Typically, you can even edit, email, or upload the video directly from your device. Make sure to set a tight medium frame, so that the viewer sees you from chest up. Whether you sit or stand is up to you, but don’t distract the viewer by moving the camera around. Keep the camera at eye-level to avoid any awkward or unflattering angles.

Set the Scene:
You don’t want to have your bedroom, kitchen or a distracting painting in the background of a professional audition tape. Choose a blank wall, or hang a neutral sheet to frame your scene. Furthermore, try and get the least amount of shadows on your face as possible. Sometimes, lights directly overhead will cause shadows under the eyes which can be very unflattering. If natural daylight is not an option, cheap clip-on lights can be placed on stands at just above eye level. Ensure that your space is quiet and void of distractions.

Pick the Right Reader:
If possible, have a fellow actor be your off-screen reader. Since the reader will be next to the camera, ensure that they are quieter than you. The reader should only read the other character’s dialogue, not the stage directions. Always connect with the reader when you are performing, instead of directly with the camera (unless otherwise asked to do so per our instructions) If the scene includes more than one person in the scene, it is best to focus your attention to the reader. If you don’t have a fellow actor around to read with you, it is ok to use your agent, manager, a friend, mom or dad, but definitely make sure when they read next to the camera, that they aren’t overbearing.

Slate as Yourself:
Read the slate instructions and follow the directions we have given you carefully. Sometimes we want a full body shot and other times, all we need is the medium camera angle. It is important to slate your name and any other information that we ask for directly into the camera. This is the one time, looking directly into the camera is totally acceptable.

Proper Preparation:
To avoid making time-consuming mistakes, memorize your lines or be familiar enough with the material that you aren’t looking down at the page. (We don’t want to see the top of your head in an audition) Do several takes of each scene and choose the best one to submit. Even when you are self-taping, you need to make strong choices in your reading.

Professional Taping Facilities:
I know in many different cities, there are professional places where you can go to tape an audition that don’t cost a ton of money. This is also an option if you aren’t the best at self-taping and need some help to create a quality audition. You can ask your fellow actors who they use or research audition taping facilities in your area.

For example, in Atlanta there is a place, Atlanta For Actors – which is run by two actors, Zeeko Zaki & Parker Davis. They have a professional set up for recording auditions and will even help coach you if you would like.

Most important have fun!!

Happy Auditioning!!
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