Top 10 tips for Self-Tape Auditions

Part 1
JANE ANDERSON SELF TAPE photo

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.

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ALL OF JANE ANDERONS CASTING CREDITS ON HER WEBSITE. 

Without Further Ado, please find the Q&A Below.

 

FILMING:

  1. 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 a crisp sound and lit well. 

  1. Is an IPhone or Camera Phone the best way to go when filming for a self tape? 

The new Smartphones are generally just as good now as a digital camera. So ideally it can be filled on either. 

  1. 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 eyeliner should be the person behind the camera (slight to the left or right of the camera) and NOT reading down the lens – unless specified to do so.

 

LOCATION:

  1. Could you give us some insight into where and when is best to film your self tape audition?

Anywhere as long as it is lit well, hasn’t got too much noise in the background 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 places on top of a table), as handheld is not the best option. 

 

APPEARANCE:

  1. Should actors 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. The actors 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 clothing as the best.  

 

THE READER:

  1. 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 meter behind the camera will lessen the volume  They should be audible  but not so much that their voice is a booming soundtrack. 

 

EDITING:

  1. 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 etc 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 they need to do, is title the clip with their name, the role they’re reading for and the scene number. If they’ve edited the 3 clips onto one MPEG, then it should be titled with the actors name and role, and then within the film, each scene should have a title page with which scene is to follow.  

 

  1. Best ways to submit the self tape to the CD? Do you have any sites you prefer? (Vimeo, We Transfer, IMovie, DropBox)

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, We Transfer, Etc. 

 

  1. What has been your most memorable self the 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 scene. There’s nothing like being remembered for the wrong reasons.

  1. Any final tips or pointers you’d like to pass onto actors on self-tape auditions?

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 better one to send. Also, I’m more than happy to have a couple of contrasting versions of the same scene if they think they are different ways of delivering it. 

Make sure to follow any self tape requirements or performance notes that are sent with the script, as more often than not, they will 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.

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. 

Part 2

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I am extremely excited to present the second post of my series – The Top 10 Tips for Self-Tape auditions.

Today I’ll be sharing the wonderful Janet Hampson’s tips. Janet has over 20 years experience working in the industry. Janet’s credits range from series for ITV (Coronation Street), BBC1 (Citizen Khan), BBC2 (Hebburn), BBC3 (C-Bomb, Lunch Monkeys), CBBC (The Johnny & Inel Show) and Sky (The Cruise, Little Crackers). Needless to say, Janet is known in the North and London for her exceptional work!

I recently went to see a piece of theatre Janet cast called ‘Down the Dock Road’ at the Royal Court in Liverpool. It was a funny, gritty and a moving piece of theatre – definitely one to watch and one to be proud of. You can find the rest of Janet Hampson’s credits on her website along with FAQ’s section at the bottom of the landing page.

Don’t forget to go to Janet’s website here: Janet Hampson CDG Website

Now, without further ado – please find the questions and responses below. As i’ve said before this information can be crucial to actors who simply don’t know what to do with themselves when a self tape auditions come through. A big thank you to Janet for taking the time to share her thoughts on self tape auditions and allow us to gain some insight into how it’s meant to be done. 

Filming: 

1. What is the biggest tip you could give actors regarding the quality of the video? 

Ask a decent reader to read in with you – if you can’t find an actor friend, please don’t ask your neighbor/nan – it won’t help you give your best performance. 

 

2. Is an iphone or camera phone that best way to go for filming? 

They are easy as you can upload straight from the phone, and the quality is good enough to be able to tell if it’s worth bringing the actor in later. Use a tripod once you have set up your shot. They make them for phones too.

 

3. What is the perfect frame for the actor’s body on camera? 

I’d say ask what the director/producer want, but if you can’t find out, a mid shot. Anyone reading in with you should NOT appear at all.

Location:

 

4. Could you give us some insight into where is best to film your self-tape auditions? 

Film yourself against a neutral background without outside sound interference if possible. It is very distracting to see dirty pots in the background! 

 

Appearance:

 

5. Dress neutral and basic in the video or would you suggest to dress geared towards the role?

You can dress neutral but with some kind of nod to the role.  Don’t go in for ‘costume’ or full on character make up.

 

The Reader:  

 

6. Biggest tips for the actor to let the reader know before filming?

Tell them what is happening in the scene, rehearse it, practice how you want it to be. 

 

Editing: 

7. Should actor’s slate before the self-tape begins or do you prefer an edited version with text, spotlight pin and contact details?

I prefer the actor’s name to come up over the first few frames of the self-tape, before the scene begins, then there can be no question of who is about to speak. 

 

8. Best ways to submit the self-tape to the Casting Director? Do you have any sites you prefer? (Vimeo, We Transfer, IMovie Version?)

I can open and send on most self tapes.  Vimeo is easy to use for both parties.   

 

9. What has been your most memorable able self-tape audition to date? (Good or Bad)

Scarlett Alice Johnson did an absolutely brilliant self-tape for me once.  If she had been in the room, I don’t think I could have found any notes to give her – she was fabulous.  

 

10. Any final tips or pointers you’d like to pass on to actors on self-tapes? 

Nothing is quite like being in the room, but if you genuinely can’t get there, give it your best shot by self-taping and getting it there speedily.  If you don’t know the technology, find a teenager and take a lesson!

 

Thank you again Janet for all the responses you’ve provided me and for my readers. I hope this helps gives actors a better idea of what it takes to produce a successful self tape audition! It is important when moving into a digital age that everyone is up to speed on the level of professionalism it takes to get noticed on camera and off.

 

Everyone make sure to go and follow Janet on twitter @JanetHampson and check out her website to keep up to date with any posted auditions, opportunities or FAQ on submissions.

 

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