If you're new to self taping for auditions, we have made a list of things to keep track of to assure you have the best possible audition!
Frankly, most new smartphones have the quality you need for self tape auditions. There is no longer a need to invest in a DSLR or other type of expensive camera.
Always shoot in Landscape (horizontal) and never in Portrait (vertical). The only possible exception is if they ask for a full body slate and you can't fit otherwise. Your initial slate speaking to camera, and the scene should always be shot in landscape. Usually for slates a Medium Shot (waist up) or Medium Close up (Chest up) are preferred. The audition should usually be in a Medium Shot, but you can go wider if the material requires traveling.
Slates are extremely important, especially for children auditions. Please include all the information that is requested. If nothing is requested, I suggest Name, Agency and Height. On Union projects, you can include your Union Status. Talent under the age of 18 must also say their age. Adults never have to disclose their age. You can say (above 18) if there's an age requirement, or over 25 (in the case of gambling and alcohol commercials). CD's will usually specify if they want the slate at the beginning (front slate) or at the end (tail slate). When in doubt, either way is just fine. Be confident and natural. Don't be in character, especially if you're playing a low energy character.
Make sure your lighting allows us to see you properly. If you have to shoot in a darker area of your house, investing in some lights on tripod could be beneficial. There are also many affordable ring lights you can use for closer up.
Always check the sound quality before you upload your auditions. Sometimes the audio is so low we can barely hear it. Most smartphones have a strong enough audio quality. You can also buy small microphones that work on smartphones that help tremendously. Don't place the camera too far away to assure the best possible audio.
Always always always use a reader. One of the biggest mistakes we see in self tapes is no reader. We aren't just looking for actors to spew lines, we want to see you listen and react. Readers can be over the phone or video call. But please, don't ever just say your lines, and sit in silence. With the exception of very young children, the reader should always be behind the camera and to a side.
During the slate, you should speak directly to the lens (down the barrell). Unless otherwise directed, the scenes should be just off camera.
If you don't have a blank wall to film in front of, we do suggest investing in a backdrop. It can be as simple as a sheet. There are some cheap setups available online. We just don't want a busy background, or seeing your entire home. We only want to see YOU.
For those who aren't technically savvy, editing your slate and scene together can be a difficult task. There are some fairly easy-to-use apps on smartphones you can download. Don't worry about having a place-card at the top, or your name written on the screen. These aren't requirements. Never use music, or a montage before. Also, don't attach your reel unless it's been requested. Usually if we want to see your reel, we want it on a separate file.
Most Casting Directors will be using a system like Breakdown Express/Actors Access, Casting Workbook or Casting Networks. These systems have an upload system. If and only if the Casting Director requests it via email, please follow the instructions exactly as described. Having a specific subject line can be used to filter auditions for a specific project. Some CD's will be asking for a downloadable link (like Google Drive) and other are fine with stream only links like Youtube. When in doubt, go with something like Google Drive that allows for both. I also suggest renaming your file to something similar to "Talent Name - Project Name".
Whenever possible, do not wait until the last minute to send in your audition. Many of us watch them as they come in and can have early favourites. Don't rush! But also do wait up until the deadline.
On systems like Actors Access, talent can include a "note". Don't worry about pleasantries here. Only include notes that pertain directly to the casting call. If the casting call requires improv, you can say "just finished 2 months improv intensive" or specify your background in a special skill like "swam competitively at national level".