Take 3 Talent Just Booked!

Shout out to our talent Aidan Browne in this new McDonald's commercial!

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8 months ago  ·  

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Breaking it Down: Self-Taped Auditions

With today’s easy access to cameras and editing software, actors are being called upon more and more often to tape their own auditions. Not only do self tapes allow casting directors to see a larger number of actors, they also present a great opportunity for New York actors to audition for LA projects. However, due to the huge amount of actors casting directors see for each role, nailing your audition is a must. Here’s some advice to make sure your self tape books the job!

1. Do not look directly into the camera while performing your scene. Instead, focus on your reader or a fixed point that feels comfortable and natural. It’s important to make sure that your reader stands to the left or right of the camera lens, rather than right behind it, so you don’t appear to be looking into the camera. The only time it’s acceptable to look straight into the lens is while slating.

2. Try not to film your self tape on a cell phone unless absolutely necessary!! There are many pocket sized HD video cameras that are very affordable and will significantly improve the quality of your self tape. A great option is the Take 1 HD Camera.

3. Be off book! If you’re looking down at the paper it’s hard for casting to see your face, and a lot of the expression is lost. We know that self tape requests often come with very short notice, but try your best memorize the material before taping. If being off book isn’t possible, make sure to refer to your sides in a subtle manner by holding the paper down low so it isn’t blocking the face. It’s also IMPORTANT to always memorize and strongly deliver the first and last lines! This way, the casting director can see your face at the beginning and end of your tape.

4. All details matter, so be a perfectionist! Always do a test shot and watch it back before taping the entire scene. Make sure that the camera is focused and the face isn’t shadowy.

5. Try to film in front of a plain white wall. If that’s not possible, use a solid color wall without photos or decorations. Most importantly, do not film in front of a window as this will cause the face to be in shadow. Casting will only have a few minutes with your tape, and you don’t want their focus to shift away from your acting.

6. Do not film the entire body unless it is specifically asked for by casting. A good framing is from the elbow to about two inches above the head.

7. Always film in a comfortable location. Don’t shine a light directly in your face or stand near a bright window.  It can be very distracting for the casting director if the actor is squinting or blinking throughout the scene because of improper lighting.

8.  DO NOT add intros or transitions with graphics, pictures, or music. Due to their busy schedules, casting directors don’t want to waste time looking through any unnecessary footage. It’s best to get right to the scene itself. If anything, these edits tend to hinder more than help.

9. Never zoom in and out while the actor is saying his or her lines, as this can be distracting. Do your best to make all camera adjustments before the scene begins.

10. For important self tapes, we HIGHLY recommend being taped at a professional studio with an acting coach. A high quality tape will improve your chances of getting cast and more importantly, a professional coach can guide you through the sides, provide insightful tips, and serve as a fabulous reader who will GREATLY strengthen your audition. In particular, if you are asked to re-record a scene with specific feedback from casting, working with a coach can help you see the scene differently and make good adjustments. A couple of fabulous coaches are Denise Simon and A Class Act NY. We know that hiring a professional can get a little expensive, but for a big audition it’s a worthwhile investment!

To check out our “How to Self Tape” video, click here!!

By Catherine Melillo

Breaking it Down: Demo Reels

Why do I need a demo reel?

Casting directors do not waste time. That means calling in the best actors for the role, and only working with those who prove themselves to be the strongest overall. With thousands of actors vying for auditions and roles, it’s important to set yourself apart and use every advantage available to you. In the industry today, headshots alone aren’t enough for an actor to get cast. If you want to stand out and get noticed, having a stellar demo reel is definitely a must!

What belongs in my reel?

Ideally, a demo should consist solely of high quality clips from professional projects, such as feature films, commercials, or network television. However, if you’re a beginning actor with little to no experience and no professional credits, acting in student films is a great way to get footage. Although most of these jobs are nonpaying, they’re great for obtaining high quality film clips for your reel, as well as practical on-set experience for your resume.

Another great way for inexperienced actors to add footage to their reel is to record a short TV/Film scene in a professional studio. Many studios in NYC offer HD picture, sound and lighting quality, along with editing services and professional actors as readers. Some great options for recording a mock scene are The Actor’s Green Room and One on One NYC.

How long should my reel be?

Generally speaking, a reel should consist of two to five scenes of various lengths that show a range in acting. However, one professional scene can certainly be enough to send to a casting director as long as it markets your “type” well and showcases your best acting ability. Casting directors are very busy and constantly screening talent, so try to keep your entire reel under two and a half minutes in length.

8 Tips for a Top Notch Demo Reel

1. Make sure the clips you choose clearly identify whose reel the casting director is watching. Scenes should always start and end on a shot of you, rather than the other actors in the scene, and it’s important that the clips never show more of other actors than of you. If possible, include scenes with actors who aren’t the same age or type as you are.

2. Always begin the reel with what you feel is the strongest scene. A casting director might not have the time to watch an entire reel, so start with your best.

3. It’s a good idea to vary the style/character between scenes. Show casting directors the range of your ability and keep them engaged as they watch your reel.

4. That being said, although a little variety is good, it’s best to make separate reels for comedy and drama. If a casting director is working on a comedy, they want to view only your comedy footage, rather than wasting time looking through dramatic clips. If casting directors want to see your range, they have the option of watching the other reel.

5. Trim down your scenes as much as possible. The scene should move quickly, regardless of whether the viewer is able to understand every detail of the plot and backstory.

6. Never include a flashy opening montage, music or photos. Casting directors do not have time to wade through a long opening while looking for your clips. It’s best for your reel to start with your name and contact info and then transition directly into a scene.

7. Your reel should be compressed into a standard, easy-to-send video format. Stay away from CDs or flash drives. Instead, put your demo reel online somewhere easy to access, such as Vimeo or YouTube.

8. Make sure to label each individual clip so the casting director knows what TV show or film the scene is from. Most importantly, don’t forget to include your contact information at the beginning AND end of your reel.

Written by: Catherine Melillo

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