Guide to Self-Tapes

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With the busy season just around the corner, we want you to be as prepared as possible!

Self tapes are becoming more popular and in demand. Knowing how to properly execute an eye-catching and dynamic performance is a skill all actors need to have.

There are two ways to film a self-tape.

1. Rent a film space designed for this exact purpose – this can be costly, but options can include a reader, coaching, and editing.

2. Film in the comfort of your own home at your convenience – this requires a little extra dedication and some basic equipment, but is still a VERY easy process.

Equipment Needed:

* Digital Camera with a built-in microphone OR a cellphone with recording capabilities and a relatively good mic.
* Tripod – your camera ​must be steady
* Clear, neutral space (or backdrop)
* Good lighting – natural lighting works well, NOTHING harsh​, no​ shadows
* A reader​ (unless they specify otherwise)​! Unless you excel in ventriloquism, you cannot possibly play all the ‘characters’ in a script. Nor does casting want to see you attempt to do so. Grab a friend or a family member

Follow the directions given in your audition correspondence. Casting is pretty good at giving explicit information on how they want you to film (long shot, from the waist up etc).

* SLATE! You MUST slate before you begin with any lines or actions requested
* Make sure you are off book. No papers shuffling, this is still an audition. Professionalism is required and if it isn’t acceptable for an in-person audition, it isn’t acceptable for a self-tape audition.
* Always film in landscape
* Use a self-tape program or app to record. It allows for seamless uploading and some apps even have basic editing capabilities built in. (My Selftape App or Casting Workbook App)
* DO NOT send your agent a Dropbox link or a Google Drive link, casting cannot and will not open these. Upload directly to the requested site (Actors Access or Casting Workbook). If you are required to send a link, make sure it follows the instructions given by casting.

* Use time management skills! DO NOT leave anything to the last minute. By default, this is when your internet connection will be its slowest and when your laptop will automatically update.

There are tutorials and workshops offered and available to teach you how to create a professional quality self tape. These are highly recommended!

The deadline for your self-tape is non-negotiable. There is no room for error! With websites and technology being a necessary tool, their rigid set up does not allow for a late submission.

 

Make sure to upload your tape well before the deadline (remember our note about time management?), the earlier casting receives it, the better your chances of securing the booking or at the very least a call back. Uploading it ahead of time is also in your best interest as it needs to be viewed and submitted by your Agent before it makes its way to casting. ​Agents will not stop their meetings, interrupt their dinner etc to hit the submit button at the last possible minute.​

Eco casts and self tapes should always be uploaded within business hours for two reasons. One, if there are any technical issues, there will be an operator ready and available to assist you if you need to call the helpline. Two, your Agent does not work 24/7 and is unlikely to take time away from their family at 7pm on a Sunday because you were not prepared.

​Eco cast invites really show which actors are truly dedicated to this industry. Actors that fail to send on time, send tapes to agents expecting them to do YOUR uploads despite directions,​ forget their slate, pay no attention to their lighting and angles, and actors who send the quickest possible first attempt and actually hope to get booked are actors that do not belong in this industry.

Self tapes save YOU money, time, parking etc….they give you a lot more time to prepare then in person auditions, they are sent to you out of respect for your time and money. Casting requires, in return, your best effort at all times!!

Maintaining Industry Relationships

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​In the tight-knit community that is the film industry, you are bound to make friends, allies & meet mentors. How you maintain and balance these relationships is truly integral to your success.

  1. Remain Professional – Casting Directors, Producers and their Assistants are people too, and many of them are down to earth and awesome, who most likely frequent the same events and areas that their actors do. Your impression is lasting. Make sure it’s one worth remembering.
  2. Friendly, not Besties – Having a working relationship is crucial. However, the audition waiting room (or any set for that matter) is not a place to gossip. Keep small talk to a minimum, and be aware of the volume in the room, it should be kept professional. You are not speaking to them at an event or bar, you are in their office wanting to be hired by them.
  3. Stay Humble – You are an actor and are brought in to a casting studio for one purpose. Your audition is a job interview, and you should treat it as such. Be 5 minutes early, be prepared, and NEVER expect special treatment. Texting an assistant or the director personally sends a bad message. Maintain a professional protocol when working by not bypassing your Agent with regrets or delays etc. Whether or not you are on a personal level with a casting director, you are at work…not play.
  4. Do not assume that due to your personal relationships that you can bypass protocol. Self tape deadlines are still firm, audition times are firm, materials requested are firm. Casting directors are loyal to their clients…they have a job to do. If you are a respected friend to them then you are the last person who should be messing with the job they have to do to service their client’s properly.

As Agents, we have seen it time and again….as actors become established they build relationships with industry personnel, its a given that your Agents, Casting Directors and Producers will get to know you on a personal level. This simply cannot affect how you do your job. This can very well be your downfall if you dont maintain a professional relationship along with your personal one.

We take it even more personally when one of our favourite actors, who we know well, regret auditions at the last minute. When they take for granted the policies of the Agency and think they no longer have to follow protocol. We have a strong feeling that casting directors are the same. They are friendly and courteous out of respect but they will not take kindly to actors getting so comfortable that they dont follow professional protocol.

Actors should schmooze, they should be as friendly as possible and they should build as many relationships in the industry as possible. They should not ever forget that they have a job to do as do their new industry friends. Stay professional and on point! This is the real way to maintain your relationships properly 🙂