Casting Directors are highly skilled and work tirelessly to give actors a chance to read in front of directors. They view hundreds and sometimes thousands of self-tapes and audition readings every week. Assessing actors? skills, choices and fit for roles via digital self-tape takes deep concentration and focus.
Actors need to prepare and give the best character choices they can to get a callback from a digital audition. Your acting chops are a priority. But in a competitive, digital casting scenario where a high volume of tapes are viewed, it?s the technical things that can get in the way and bounce actors from the top-of-the-list. You don?t want to get bumped because you made it too hard for the casting director to even get to your performance.
If actors can get some of the basic technical set up right, it can remove viewing distraction and focus-fatigue for casting directors and film directors. They don?t want to strain their ears to hear you, squint to actually see your facial expressions.
Learn to get these 3 technical things right, and we can?t guarantee a callback but you?ll remove common irritants that drive casting directors nuts, and pave the way for you to be properly seen, heard and considered from your audition self-tape:
#1. Right Delivery:
Casting directors receive thousands of tapes. How you label it and how you send it are critical. Do not send a tape with just your name (many actors waste an opportunity just by doing this). It adds frustrating work for busy casting directors and could end your audition before it ever gets viewed. So remember in order to actually get your tapes viewed:
a. Label your tapes properly: First.Lastname.ProjectName
b. Send your tape as a Downloadable Link (eg. WeTransfer).
c. Never send your tape as attachment.
#2. Right Lighting & Sound:
Light: Casting Directors need to see your face without difficulty, without shadow. Whether you use professional lighting or MacGyver your recorded self-tape using a desk lamp, make sure your face and its nuances can be seen with right lighting and proper placement.
Advice: Reach out to a photographer or cinematographer. Pick their brain and get some DIY advice or the basics of lighting. Or just Google it!
Sound: Listen to the audio quality of your tape before you send it. Can we hear every line reading clearly, without straining? Are you overpowered by your reader who is standing too close to the microphone?
Secret: Ensure the reader?s microphone sound level is just a tiny bit lower than the auditioning actor?s sound level. Or if you only have one mic, position it further away from the reader than yourself.
#3. Right Camera Framing & Angle:
Many audition self-tapes are set up using medium to full-frame because actors think we need to see you ?do? things in the scene. But film acting is all about the character emotion, ie., the face.
FYI: Frame your audition using medium close to close up. If the scene says that the character moves or does actor business with hands, do not pull back for a full shot or zoom in or out. Keep the frame focus on your face and shoulders.
The worst camera angle is shooting from below. Remember to keep the camera angle at eye level. The casting director needs to see your full face (don?t look into the lens), so avoid profile or turning away (even if your character motivation wants you to do that!)