Tips for Self-tape Audition Lighting

It’s 9 p.m. and your agent sends you an email asking for you to submit an audition tape the next day for your dream role. Don't panic! Thanks to technology, making your own self-taped audition video is becoming more and more common.

On my acting journey so far, I’ve found that (while they are important and serve a purpose), having a professional video you for your audition tapes can become extremely costly. Add that to many times, auditioning actors do not have a lot of time between finding out about the audition and submitting their video. Oh, and you can’t forget we have a healthcare issue right now too!

What to do so your self-produced, self-taped, amateur video from your home look like it was done professionally? Let me talk you through what I do to make my self-taped audition videos look high quality and professional:

Lighting Tips for Self-tape Audition Videos

Many projects and auditions are now requiring a type of pre-screening in the form of self-taped auditions. This is especially common right now during Covid. Self-taped audition videos are a safe way to show off your acting skills and it saves everyone the extra time and steps of going through a first audition.

Knowing that you are not only the actor but also now the producer and the director of your own audition can be rather daunting. But if you think about it on the flip side, you are actually in more control of your audition! You can tweak and perfect your audition tape until you feel 100% comfortable submitting it.

As with anything in life, the first couple of times you do it may feel uncomfortable and too new. But if you stick with it, learn the basic tips, and mess around with different settings and lighting you will become a first-rate videographer with skills second only to your acting!


Picking the Right Area

The first thing the casting directors will see and hear upon watching your video is your background and any background noise. Picking the right place to film is crucial. Having the right area to video in will:

1. Have quality lighting > If they can’t see you, they’ll never give you a callback or book you

2. Be in a quiet area for quality sound > stay away from noisy areas, such as outside or the kitchen/living room (I love my dogs, but I have to be in an area far away from them)

3. Make it feel professional > too many knickknacks or wall hangings can take away from your actual performance. Less is more. Use a solid, plain, and neutral backdrop if you do not have a space that is simple and clutter-free.

Lighting, lighting, lighting!

You do not need expensive professional lighting. Remember, the casting directors do not see how the audition video was made, only the final result. My two favorite products to use, which are also reasonably priced are:

1. Tripod

Casting directors don’t want to feel seasick watching your tape. Tripods can be anywhere from $10-$20 on Amazon. If you’re in a pinch, pull out some old books, stack them on top of each other, and use a mug to make a cellphone dock.

2. Ring lights

Selfie ring lights are in and are also very affordable. For about $25 you can purchase a ring light that that plugs directly into your phone or camera and makes instant professional-style lighting! Most include a remote as well as a tripod! This option can save you money.

When possible make sure to film using natural daytime light. Also, stray away from turning on overhead lighting. Both of these create strong shadows under your eyes and chin.


Watch It BEFORE You Submit It

Review your tape to make sure that your self-audition video looks the way you want it. There’s no such thing as perfect, but little things that stick out to you may stick out to the casting agents too. If you have time, have a friend or family member watch it and give you any little critiques that you can fix.

But don’t miss a submission deadline over editing, that’s what the callbacks are meant for! You want to show you are a fit for the role not that your hair is perfect...


Other Basic self-audition Recording Tips

  • The main light source should be in front of you and not in the shot

  • Do not sit in front of a window (whatever goes on behind you may be distracting)

  • Keep your camera at eye-level; do not look down

  • Make sure your background isn't the same color as your clothes

  • Use easy to use editing software such as iMovie to remove or lower any background noise

The great thing about self-taping is you can do it until you get it right! Learning and setting up the right auditioning area for videos can be fun. By following these tips, your talent will stand out. Young actors: don’t let poor self-tape quality take away opportunity!

Want more tips from my #actinglife? Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about my journey as a teen actress, writer, and songwriter.

Until next time,

Katrina

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