I am extremely excited to present that first of my new series – The Top 10 Tips for Self-Tape auditions.
Today I’ll be sharing the wonderful Jane Anderson’s tips. Jane has cast numerous projects for the BBC, ITV and CBBC and has established herself in the industry as an active CD – going to theatre regularly and taking a huge interest in seeing new talent.
Jane has a very fresh approach to casting and always holds an Advice for Actors section on her website. Please check it out here: Advice for Actors.
Without further ado, please find the questions and responses below. This information can be crucial to actors who simply don’t know what to do with themselves when a self tape auditions come through. What camera do I use? Where does my reader stand? What do I wear? Do I dress like the character? All these questions can be answered below.
What is the biggest tip you could give actors regarding the quality of the video?
It doesn’t need to be ‘studio quality, but it should be clear, have crisp sound, and be well lit.
Is an iphone or camera phone that best way to go for filming?
The new smartphones are generally just as good as a digital camera. So it can be filmed on either.
What is the perfect frame for the actor’s body on camera?
Always shoot it in landscape and not portrait mode. Unless specified otherwise, then it should be a mid shot, taking in middle of chest to above your head.
The eye line should be to the person behind the camera (slightly to the left or right of the camera) and not reading down the lens – unless specifically asked to do so.
Could you give us some insight into where is best to film your self-tape auditions?
Anywhere as long as it’s well lit, hasn’t got too much outside noise, and has a neutral background. You don’t need a studio set up to do this. A quiet room with a plain wall, which is lit by natural light is just as good. Make sure the camera or smartphone is fixed to a tripod (you can buy cheap and cheerful ones for smartphones which can be placed on top of a table), as handheld is not the best option.
Dress neutral and basic in the video or would you suggest to dress geared towards the role?
I’m not a major fan of actors dressing in character. Their acting should be convincing enough in an audition. But I don’t work in commercials, which is probably more geared towards dressing for the role. So unless suggested otherwise, neutral clothes are best.
Biggest tips for the actor to let the reader know before filming?
Don’t sit next to the camera. More often than not the person reading in is also operating the camera, so their voice is much louder than the actual actor auditioning. Half a metre behind the camera will lessen the volume. They should be audible, but not so much that their voice is a booming soundtrack.
Should actor’s slate before the self-tape begins or do you prefer an edited version with text, spotlight pin and contact details?
If someone is self taping then I have selected them, so I have their contact details, CV etv and wouldn’t want it on the self tape. (NB Casting Directors don’t need a pin to access Spotlight as anyone with any worth has an account – so when sending CVs in general, all you need to do is send the link to the page)
If they are reading 3 scenes and each scene is being sent as an individual clip then all they need to do, is title the clip with their name, the role they’re reading + scene no. If they’ve edited the 3 clips onto one mpeg, then it should be titled with the actors name & role, and then within the film, each scene should have a title page with which scene is to follow.
Best ways to submit the self-tape to the Casting Director? Do you have any sites you prefer? (Vimeo, We Transfer, IMovie Version?)
Any website that has the ability to send a link to download the video. ie Vimeo (as long as the download settings are activated), Dropbox, WeTransfer etc.
What has been your most memorable self-tape audition to date? (Good or Bad)
Bad – when a (male) actor decided to self tape topless in his bedroom. It had no bearing on the role or scenes. There’s nothing like being remembered for the wrong reasons.
Any final tips or pointers you’d like to pass on to actors on self-tapes?
Make sure they’ve read it a few times with the person reading in, so it flows smoothly. If possible, be off book. Record a few versions, and where possible, get someone else’s opinion on which is the better one to send. Also, I’m more than happy to have a couple of contrasting versions of the same scene if they think there are different ways of delivering it.
Make sure you follow any self tape requirements or performance notes that are sent with the script, as more often than not, we’ll have insight into what is being looked for.
But most importantly if you have any questions about the scene/character etc prior to filming the self tape, make sure you ask them.
I want to express my gratitude again to Jane for taking the time to answer all these questions. I love that actors in the UK and the US will get a chance to know what people are looking for in acting submissions and I hope this information changes an actor out their (for the better).
Everyone make sure to go and follow her on twitter @JaneAndersonCDG and check out her website to keep in with her advice for actors column.
Stay tuned for next weeks post. I’ll be speaking with Janet Hampson CDG on her top 10 tips for self-tape auditions.
Hearts & Flowers, HCx
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