Last week I posted about the basic equipment that is needed in order to tape yourself for an audition. So I thought that this week I would explore some of the ins and outs of the actual taping.
Let's assume your agent or manager has submitted you for a role, or you've submitted yourself for a project using one of the casting sites like Casting Networks or Actors Access (the links to those two are under "Show Biz" links on the right side of my post, but there are others like Backstage, etc.).
Now you get a call or email notifying you that the casting director wants you to send them a video of you auditioning.
There are several ways you can accomplish this. First, and most expensive, you can have a company that shoots auditions, and scenes for demo reels, shoot your audition. The problem is that requests for self-taped auditions are becoming more common, and the costs of having a service shoot your audition can start to really add up.
The quickest and least expensive is to DIY (do it yourself). A friend of mine just got a part in a film by using her smart phone to shoot her audition and send it to the casting director.
Here is a screenshot from an audition I self-taped a few months ago using my new camera:
I used two clamp lights w/reflectors - one main one (100 watts) is on the right, and the other (60 watts) is on the left. (The image is reversed, so the lights were on the opposite sides during the actual shooting.) This gives some depth to the video so that it doesn't just look "flat." What didn't come out in this screenshot is that you can see a little of the background in the video. This is good as it adds more depth and interest to the scene. (Just make sure your background fits the scene at least a little, so that it isn't distracting.)
I had a friend read the other character's lines while I recorded them. That way he didn't have to hang around and keep doing his lines over and over. (The person helping you shouldn't be seen in the video - it's your audition!)
When I got a take that I liked, I put the sound into Garageband so that I could adjust the levels. During the shoot I put the camera on top of a stack of books on my desk and used that for a tripod - you don't need to shoot the audition like a million-dollar film!
If your audition is a monologue, you can get away with recording it on a smart phone and hitting send (like my friend did).
As more and more projects (especially low-budget ones) ask for self-taped auditions, a problem is going to occur. We are going to run out of friends who are willing to drop what they are doing and come over to spend a couple of hours helping you to record your audition. My suggestion is to make a deal with several friends that you will trade off helping each other.
Tip: If you learn to use a sound editing program like Garageband or Audacity, you can have your friend record his lines on his phone or computer and send them to you. That way, they don't have to come over to where you are!
Another Tip: This is an audition - you don't need to build a great background and have the perfect costume. However, the sound should be loud and clear and we should be able to see you (especially your face).
I have more tips for shooting your own audition, so drop me a note if you want me to write another post with more technical details in it, or you have a specific question.