Fran Montano’s acting blog “Self Tapes Made Easy.” Really?
There is a big business in making self tapes. There is all kinds of equipment, lights, cameras, backdrops, and experts out there to tell you how to do it. It is also the future of your auditions. That is one thing that I don’t think is going to change. When we are all back in person after covid, self tapes will continue. It is important to be able to do them quickly, easily, professionally, and from where ever you are.
Yet, ask 10 casting directors about how to do a self tape and you’ll get 10 different answers. The bottom line, they want to see your look, your face, your expressions clearly and specifically, hear your voice, and watch you act. Good lighting and sound is expected of course.
However, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to be able to do your own self tapes. With technology today, and with an iPhone it can be done easily. I’m sure on Android it’s also easy but I’m not familiar with that version.
Normally, I use a Canon 70 D camera with professional lights, a backdrop, and do the editing on my desktop. I have a studio space in my home and that is where I do them. I’ve gotten to a place where I can create good technical and production values and then edit it well. It takes some time and requires setting up the camera and lights to get it right.
Sounds good, but not if you’re out of town. I was on location recently and while on a long layover at the airport with another actor, I got two auditions.
Fortunately, my fellow acting partner who was on location with me, took the time to give me a tutorial on his iPhone. In an hour he showed me how he does his tapes on his iPhone, edits them on the iPhone with iMovie, and then sends his audition in. No tripods, hard drives, fancy lighting, backgrounds, or even setting up lights. Just a spot with good lighting, a decent background, then of course excellent acting. By the way, this person is a fantastic talented actor who works all the time. And gets most of his work from self tapes.
After he gave me his tutorial I practiced as we had a four-hour layover. I looked for him later and saw him doing an audition in a corner in the waiting area at one of the gates. He did his audition while at the airport! I was surprised and, when he showed it to me, it was excellent, perfect!
Using an iPhone and iMovie is simple and easy, especially for commercials where you have only your own voice and expressions. If you have a scene and need someone to read lines, that is a bit more complicated and can be done. However, I am only addressing the simple expression, an improv and your simple dialogue in this blog.
Bottom line, if you don’t know how to do this, have someone show you, or contact me and I’ll connect you to my friend who might, for a small fee, give you a coaching session. I promise it is well worth it.
I had two auditions later that week with very short notice. I did them from my hotel room, and was quite pleased. My other option would have been to pass and not do them.
Whatever your self taping technique is, keep it simple, easy, fun, professional, and doable from anywhere if you’re traveling. Of course it requires excellent acting. No need to spend a lot of money any more on fancy equipment! Spend it on a good acting class. Break a leg!