Acting Up: Lights, Camera, Audition!

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In the midst of pilot season, I realized that most of my auditions sent out to LA are being put on tape. I have always found the “audition on tape” a bit elusive — what exactly is it? That’s why I leave it to the professionals and instead focus on knocking auditions out of the park.

Whether you turn to a professional or go the DIY route, here are some resources and tips for on-camera auditions:

AUDITION TAPING SERVICES 
(Full disclosure: I’ve used both of these services for my own auditions.)

Yuval Boim helps actors get the most out of self-taped auditions, even if they’re short of time. Boim says on his site that “audition taping should be affordable and fun, especially since self-taped auditions are the upcoming trend…My goal is to take the stress out of self-taping so that actors can do their best work and walk out of a session with a high-quality tape they are proud to submit.”

SkyTown Entertainment offers self-taped audition services, as well as actor reels. Here’s how SkyTown describes its services: "You will be beautifully lit against a blue or green screen. Then you’ll have thirty minutes for your taping. Once you’re finished, SkyTown will edit your best take(s) and send your audition electronically to you and your agent and/or casting director.“

AT-HOME AUDITION TAPING
If you’d rather do your own audition taping at home, keep these tips in mind:

Use great lighting and sound. You can use a small light kit, your iPhone, and a mic. Your face should be well-lit — we want to be able to see your work, your craft. You can always fill in with natural light as well. When your audition tape is lit well, it automatically reads as professional. The viewer can focus on your work as an actor and not be distracted by the technical aspects of your audition. 

Slate it. The slate should include your name, height, agency, and any other details the casting notice requests. If you need to shake off nerves or step out of character, try doing a silly dance before laying down your slate (it helps me to get out of my head). I like to include a pan of myself, so my height and body can be seen as well.

Have a reader. Your at-home audition should be similar to auditioning in a casting office. When actors don’t have a reader and either answer to silence or tape the other characters lines and respond to that, it’s strange to watch. Try to get a fellow actor to be your reader, but a neighbor or friend is OK too. 

Choose your best take. There’s no pressure here. You can do as many takes as you need, so have fun and put down your best work. Watch your playback to see what adjustments you need to make before you lay down your next take.

Send the audition. Of course, you should always follow the directions of the casting notice. However, Wetransfer is a great, free service for sending footage. Or you can always post it on Vimeo with a password link.

Now, go book that job!

MARISA VITALI

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