Love them or Hate them, self tapes are increasingly requested by casting directors for many reasons. It saves them money in having to rent space, it cuts down your travel/commute, and as an actor, you are able to fit it in within your schedule. Being requested for a self tape audition is all types of awesome!
Whether it is your first self tape, or you have your own set up in your basement/kitchen/living room, knowing the lingo and requirements definitely help make the taping go smoothly.
Make sure to read the audition email. Multiple times, thoroughly before asking questions. 9/10 the answer is already there.
When asked to check your actors access account, please do so as the instructions, scripts etc are outlined in your actors access email.
Read all instructions, as every self tape is different. If casting requests certain info in your slate, if they ask for certain camera angles, certain stats, certain reading instructions etc. They have put together this info for you very clearly, if you disregard it then they assume you cannot follow instructions.
Start off with the right tools:
Tripod – a camera stabilizing tool is a must if you do not have a reader or person taping you.
Reader– if given script to tape you MUST have a solid reader behind the camera reading the other lines to prompt yours.
Lighting – it doesn’t need to be professional, but make sure that there are no shadows cast across your face and that you’re not set up in front of a window.
Location – Make sure you choose a calm area in your house with a neutral wall or background. Nothing too busy (pictures, decorations etc), no noise in the background.
Terms you can and will come across via self tape requests:
Slate – State your name, agency and that you are reading for the role of “XXXXXX”. Never say your age unless you are specifically asked for it.
Tail Slate – The same as a slate! But this should only be added to the end of your audition tape instead of the standard introduction slate.
Landscape – The orientation of the camera. ALWAYS film in landscape (unless asked otherwise). Simply turn phone sideways to create a bigger screen.
Full Body Shot – This is a request to see your FULL body. Don‘t stand behind anything, and make sure the camera doesn’t have to move up and down to see your body. Zoom in for slate, zoom out for full body shot, zoom back in for script.
Close up – Frames a subject’s face and cuts off mid-neck, showing the face and entire head. The subject fills almost the entire frame capturing facial expressions and emotions. Zoom in.
Medium Close up – Frames a subject’s head and cuts off around mid-chest. The focus is on the subject. Reveals only a little of the surroundings.
Eco-Cast – another way to say self tape from actors access.
Do’s and Don’ts:
Do Edit your best take only.
Do Make sure to properly name your file ‘20181029456789321XVJ’ is going to get lost on someones harddrive. Always follow this format: YourName_YourRole_ProjectName
Do Film and save your work in preferred formats. Casting is not going to take the time to reformat a self tape when they have 75+ others to still watch. Make sure it is in a .MOV or MP4 format.
Do use a self tape app, it makes your life so much easier! Try MySelfTape App
Do Not send multiple takes (unless they are specifically requested).
Do Not send your file as a dropbox link or Gmail link. Use a file sharing program if you need to (hightail or wetransfer)
ALWAYS MEET YOUR DEADLINE. Actually, send it in early! Casting is happy, your Agent is happy, and it looks good on you that you have made this project a priority instead of waiting to the last minute. If a due date and time is set for after business hours, you need to take into consideration that your Agents is not on call 24/7. Uploading your tape 5 minutes before it is due is NOT ENOUGH TIME for the system to notify your Agent that your tape is ready for review, and then for your Agent to preview it and submit it to casting. Your Agent is not going to run out of the movie theatre at 8pm on Friday night because you didn’t upload your tape before end of day (5pm). Contrary to what some may think, Agents have lives outside of the office and we cannot help you succeed if it is assumed we are on call at the drop of a hat.
WHEN TAPING WITH A PROFESSIONAL COACH OR STUDIO please make your coach aware that tapes are to uploaded to the casting systems that they came from and NOT sent to your agent direct. Actors Access was created for this reason, for actors to handle their own uploads, self tapes, and profiles.
YOUR AGENT CANNOT SUBMIT PAST THE DEADLINE. I cannot stress this enough! Your Agent cannot submit anything once the computer has closed the invitation. NEVER WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE! This is NOT OUR RULE. Just like an in-person audition, casting has a deadline. You cannot attend an in-person audition past your call time thus you cannot upload a self tape past the deadline stated.
YOUR AGENT MUST HIT THE SUBMIT BUTTON FOR YOUR TAPE TO REACH CASTING. THUS ALL DEADLINES MUST BE ASSUMED EARLIER TO GIVE US TIME TO DO THAT.
Self tapes are the way of the future and can be challenging for older, less tech savvy, actors. Please be pro-active, practice self tapes before they are requested, learn the system, learn the myselftape app, learn the settings on your phone so that when you get an self tape audition you are not stressed.
You are all self employed as actors, practice makes perfect, please be prepared 🙂