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How to Self-Tape

Self tape requests are becoming a more popular way for Casting  Directors first round audition process, so it is really important that you get to grips with this as quickly as possible. You do not need any fancy equipment , just a smart phone or camera, natural lighting, and instructions  

Getting started

First up, you’ll need:

  • A video camera or smart phone

  • A computer with an internet connection

  • A light source (natural light is best) 

 

Choosing a video camera

You don't need to invest in equipment , the cameras on smart phones are very good now and are more than suitable for doing self tapes on 

But if you do wish to invest in a camera, nothing fancy needed, but choose a recognisable brand, such as Canon, Sony, Apple etc. You could also use a DSLR if you have one.

The format needs to be MP4 ideally, though AVCHD is also okay. Aim to spend around £150-£250 on a Canon Legria HF R506, if you’re looking to invest in this equipment. If you’re an actor who puts themselves on tape a lot this would be worth it.

If you’re in a hurry and don’t often need to self-tape, you can also film yourself on a phone.

Filming on a phone

Sit close to the phone to get the best sound. Be sure to film in LANDSCAPE, not portrait! You can send the clip to your agent, who will check it and pass it onto the casting director, via the WeTransfer app on iPhone and Android,  via Vimeo or Dropbox.

Lighting

To light yourself properly, use natural light if you can. You can also use soft practical lights in your house. If you need an artificial light, we would recommend a CN 160 LED light.

Setting up the room

Ensure that background noise is kept to a minimum and that the camera is at eye-level. The light source  should be in front of you and not in shot. Don’t sit with a window behind you, and make sure to you sit in front of  a plain background.

Before you start filming

Learn your lines and rehearse. Read any instructions that you may have been sent, thoroughly. Get a friend to read in the other lines if necessary. The other reader should not be in shot and stand back from the camera, so their voice doesn't dominate the scene.

Props and costume

It's not necessary to wear a costume for your self tape, but if you choose to, make sure your clothing is appropriate for the character  Only use props that are essential to the performance. Do not worry too much about the action in the scene - they want to see your performance. Self tapes, unless requested otherwise, are top of your head to below your shoulders / chest eight, so they will not see big movements. 

Filming yourself

  • Your eye line should be close to the camera as they want to see both sides of your face.

  • Make sure the camera is in landscape (side ways not portrait) and secure, you don't want it tilting or moving during your recording 

  • Position the zoom so it films you from the top of your head to below your shoulders /mid chest (unless asked otherwise) 

  • If you’re using a reader, make sure they aren’t too loud, as they could over shadow your performance.

  • Don’t go too far from the camera (unless you have an external microphone).

  • Frame in a mid-close shot unless requested otherwise (chest to top of head).

  • Sit or stand depending on what feels comfortable/appropriate for the scene.

  • Don’t over think it! Relax and be natural, but in character. 

  •  Slate - this is your introduction , your name , age , agents and often they will ask you for your height also. But make sure you read the brief as what they required will be here. Give your introduction looking direct at the camera.

  •  When you are filming your scenes , try to be 'Off book' (know your lines off by heart) it gives a more natural performance.

  • When doing your lines, angle your head to either the left or right slightly, when you first start we recommend you do a quick set up take to make sure your face isn't angled away too much from the camera they basically don't want you to look direct to the camera, you should be slightly off camera , but so they can still see all of your face.  

  • Don’t do too many takes - If you can’t get it in 3 takes, take some time out, then try again.

Converting the video file

There are several ways you can input and edit your tape, if using iphone, you could get the app imovie , its simple to use and easy to edit your scenes together , you can also add a slate using wordswag Label the clips with your name first, then add the project title and scene/ the role you are reading for, put this at the start of your video. If using computers , as good program to use if Lightworks animation, or Movie maker . There are other programmes on android that you can use too, find one that works best for you and is easy to do. 

 

Don’t send too many takes, unless requested. Pick the best one and send that only . Make sure your intro is natural and the real you . You can send it via www.wetransfer.com or a downloadable Vimeo private link. Do not send your tapes direct to casting directors unless requested by your agent to do so. Your agents will review your tape , edit if required and send off to the correct address or location.

 

If a casting director asks you to just talk about yourself, they are looking for a very natural, really you tape, so relax! Find a topic you are passionate about or keen to tell others about. Sometimes you will be given a basic brief , such as “tell me a funny story” or “when was the last time something truly moved you”. Try following their instructions as closely as possible in no more than 2 minutes, unless otherwise specified.

If no instructions have been given, introduce yourself (“Hello, I’m Maja Andersson, I’m a half Bosnian, half Swedish actress living in London.”) and talk about something that doesn’t have anything to do with acting – they may already have your CV and your showreel, but now they  want to know more about you as a person and see your personality . Tell them about your last trip, about a hobby or about something interesting about your  life.

But , remember the main points are - lighting - no shadows , camera set in landscape not portrait , filming head to chest only , unless requested otherwise . Do introduction direct to camera and your scenes just off camera . Make sure your sound quality is good and clear  with no background noise

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