Richard Cambridge’s 5 Top Tips for better self-tapes.
1. Background WHY? A: You don’t want to detract from your performance. Professional line taping services use a blank backdrop, when you read in the room there will almost always be a blank backdrop – don’t tell the casting director you’re at home with a cat on your lap – show a professional image.
NOTE SPRING 2020: A neutral grey background or painted wall is the way to go.
2. Eye-Line….. Recording From Your Computer Camera Why? A: The casting director and the director want to see your face. You want the best representation of YOU on camera. A casting director wants to see what you will look like when you book the job. Recording using your computer webcam is a great way to get a nice steady shot. If you use an online recorder you don’t even use up space on your clogged up hard drive. Stand up by putting your laptop on a chair on a table, or use a sturdy box. If you sit down, use a laptop raised up a little higher on books or some sturdy files. The extra height may even help your posture and breathing.
NOTE 2020: Consider taping on your phone AS WELL as using the WeAudition online recorder. You can set modern iPhones to record in 4k!
3. Good Sound Why? A: An echo in a room or external noise is distracting. Don’t give a casting director an excuse to press the stop button and move onto the next tape. They want to hear what you sound like, and getting a clear professional sound is important.
NOTE 2020: Wireless ‘Buds’ have a good microphone.
4. Costume & Shoes Why? A: Wear something that helps your performance like shoes or costume even if it is off-camera. Every little helps. Shoes help posture which may aid characterisation or your interpretation. A piece of clothing might reinforce your look and suitability to the part. Many actors ‘step into’ the shoes of a role literally. If it helps…. use it!
5. Know Your Lines Why? A: Show off the best you have to offer. Time in rehearsal is ALWAYS well spent. Be off book to perform the piece rather than read your sides. If you do need a prompt, position sides as close to the camera as you can. On online service where you upload a script is ideal.