You’re out of town, but see a breakdown for a project and the lead role is perfect for you. You call your rep and s/he tells you casting is moving really fast, and will be done with final callbacks long before you can get back in town. S/he can get you the sides and script to self-tape your audition. Do you do it?
I’ve yet to see a self-taped audition done well, and unless you are a star name, the clips are usually ignored. Here are my thoughts on why this happens, and how you can be more effective in submitting your own auditions.
Actors freak out. You need to get your self-taped audition to casting as soon as possible, but you also need to submit a good audition. Prioritize. Read and understand the material first. When you think you’ve got a good handle on it, hire a professional acting coach to go over it with you. The coach might not add anything to what you are doing, but s/he might give additional insight. Even if the coach only serves to bolster your confidence, I think it’s worth the money.
Unless the sides are a monologue, you will need a reader, someone good who won’t throw off your audition. Casting tries to use readers they know and trust. You should do the same. Yes, you need to meet the deadline, but you also need to be savvy with your time and confident with your choices.
Bad background and lighting. Ideally, you would find a real studio to tape in, but time constraints rarely make this possible for actors and they decide taping in their trailer or poorly lit living room is the best way to go. Wrong. Think about it. Even in the tiniest casting office you’ve ever auditioned in, the actor is filmed in front of a white or neutral wall. Do the same for yourself. Find the best-lit room available and shoot yourself against a wall with nothing hanging on it.
Two takes, no variation. For the first take, read the scene how you think it should be done, but show us a different interpretation in the second. We may not agree with either take, but you will show us range that might get you considered for something else.
Bad eye line. Know where the camera lens is on whatever device you’re using to record your audition. Hopefully, you’re giving an Oscar-worthy performance, but how’s your eye line to the camera? Do a test recording to make sure your head isn’t tilted too high or too low, and the camera frames you from the top of your head down to about the top of your chest. Your reader should be behind the camera, never in the shot with you. And look at your reader, not at the camera.
Not viewable. Some of the self-taped auditions I get are in a format I can’t access. Not everybody has iMovie or Flashplayer or QuickTime, etc. Maybe casting has it, but are you sure the director does? Instead, upload your audition to YouTube or your own website. It’s the simplest and least problematic way to go.
Best of luck!