Self-Tape Tips from Mark Summers
Self-Tapes are now an essential part of the actor’s arsenal and every actor is talking to other actors about them. However, Mark Summers feels actors should really be speaking to casting directors about what they actually want to see, because it is the role of the casting director to head-hunt for their client, the director.
There are always certain guidelines to be followed. Mark says he will not present a self-tape to a client if it is not good enough. If there is something wrong with the self-tape then it reflects badly on the casting director, who are, after all, the gatekeepers.
Things to remember: Don’t think you can self tape for every job available. Listen to the right people so you understand what is required. Be accurate with your labelling.
Always remember, first impressions count! Sound is crucial if using a laptop. You will need to buy a decent microphone for less than $100. Shop around and read reviews. If using a mobile then film in landscape.
Find yourself a good location to shoot- never outside. Against a plain, white wall is best. Good lighting, either with well positioned lights, or strong natural light is key. Never film by a mirror or a window, and never place a bulb in front of your face.
Small things put the client off and unfortunately, clients can be very unforgiving.
Always best to work with a friend, or colleague to film you and manage the technical aspects so you can focus your energy on giving a great audition. Learn your lines.
Start with the slate/ ident: Give your name clearly and the part you are auditioning for. Then show both profiles. Actors with long hair need to lift hair up so we can see how that changes your look. Then show your hands- up in front of your face- followed by a 360 to show your body size.
A self-tape can get you in the door and introduce you to directors from all over the world that you may not ever have had the opportunity to audition for.
Always make your slate professional, but warm. It says a lot about your level of experience and is the first thing we see.
Always follow to the letter whatever has been requested. Never add music, or effects. It is only ever acceptable to use music if the action requires it, for example the script says: JENNY dances to Madonna in her living room with the hoover.
Always be aware that a self-tape is for clients. It is NOT for your mum and dad, or your mates.
Investing in a home studio can be fairly cost effective these days. You will need a white chroma key, or colorama which is basically a white or blue roll of background material. A couple of lights will be needed that fix onto poles. Cost will be around £1000-1,500 to set up.
Experiment with your mobile phone and programs, like editing that you can often download for free. For a few dollars you can buy a very decent editing program to tidy up the self-tape and cut out any baggy bits. Do not, however, edit your actual audition, just the space between the slate and your read, and/or specific details requested.
Please also remember nothing beats a face-to-face meeting; don’t suggest a self-tape rather than attend an audition or casting, unless you are genuinely unavailable or out of town.
Add pic of actor shaking director’s/producers hands/ or pic of a casting session
A self-tape can get you in the door and introduce you to directors from all over the world that you may not ever have had the opportunity to audition for. The clever and pro-active actor needs to embrace and utilize new technology, and focus on its’ incredible outreach and potential.
By Clea Myers
Follow me on Twitter @Camtweak