What’s the “new normal” in entertainment and what do serious actors need to do to adapt? It’s safe to say that more processes that can be moved online, will be, and that includes auditions. Now’s your opportunity to perfect your self-tape technique if you haven’t already!
As with every other profession, you need to invest in your craft and make sure you have the proper tools to capture your talent. Today, I figured I would share a few self-tape studio essentials that every actor needs to create captivating tape auditions. Here are my faves:
1. Blue backdrop
With so much “competition” in the industry, actors need to make the most of their self-tapes by removing all possible distractions from their performance. This includes having a clutter-free background. I’m a huge fan of this Neewer background I got from Amazon because personally it makes my warm complexion pop. Many actors use this backdrop because it’s also a happier colour than the grey ones. I’m convinced it will generate a more positive response from casting directors and producers, even on a subconscious level, because of the calming effect of blue.
If you’re on a budget: Use a plain wall! You can also tape a sheet up to the wall – just make sure it’s pulled taut and there are no wrinkles.
2. Soft Boxes
Thank goodness for my freelance makeup artistry days because I can use my ring light to make sure casting directors can properly see my eyes when I perform.
I’ve tuned in to a few webinars featuring casting directors who mentioned that they prefer soft boxes to ring lights for filming. Using soft boxes reduces the look of that “white halo” in your eyes that ring lights give you. I still use my ring light simply because it has a handle to hold up my iPhone which I use to record. I just make sure to have soft boxes set up on either side.
If you’re on a budget: Use natural sunlight! You just need to plan your filming schedule around natural daylight hours.
Tripods come in super clutch for self-tapes because movements and camera shakes will take attention away from your art. My acting instructor recommended investing 5 extra bucks for the taller tripods when shopping for one. Your camera should be around eye-level so if you’re taller than most people (lucky you!), you might even need to set the tripod on top of a coffee table or something.
Like I mentioned above, if you have a ring light, it probably has a handle you can pop your phone into anyways.
If you’re on a budget: I truly believe that a good tripod is a necessary investment, but if you must, get creative! Stack books on top of a shelf or any other surface and prop up your phone securely against them. You can also get one of those “octopus” tripods with the flexible legs so you can attach it to other surfaces. They’re cheaper and great for travel, too.
4. High-res camera
Right now, I’m using my iPhone to record my self-tapes until I’ve saved enough for a DSLR. I hear the Canon Rebel t7i or Nikon D7500 are good options so I’ll be doing more research on each camera once I have the cash to spend.
The nice thing about living in the 21st century is that smartphone cameras are already pretty high-quality, video and audio-wise. Using your phone is perfectly acceptable for self-tapes. Plus, you can edit your self-tapes using whatever software you choose right on your mobile device, and you don’t have to wait to import video files into your laptop and export the final product, which is awfully time consuming.
If you’re on a budget: You can use your phone like me. If you have a model that’s pretty dated, I would recommend borrowing a friend’s phone instead. Everyone has that one friend who just HAS to have the latest smartphone. I’m sure they’d love to help you out!
There are probably studios in your city you can go to for filming, but using the space several times can be expensive, especially if you’re serious about acting and plan on auditioning a ton. Are you building your own studio? If so, do you use other essential equipment that I haven’t mentioned here? Let me know!