We live in a time where meeting or auditioning organically is not deemed necessary. For instance, the casting directors no longer meets the actors in person and review their performance. It’s all done through tapes and videos on youtube. This puts the performer at a great disadvantage as there is no one to guide them. Once its out there its out there. You don’t get to tweak it or adjust it as required by the casting director. I remember an instance when an actor was auditioning and the method she chose was a little off. The casting director saw that and guided her to try another thing with another emotion instead. And voila! It worked. She was fabulous in it and got selected for the part. But if she would’ve sent it on a tape instead then it would never have worked out and she would never have gotten selected. Having said that if tapings are done right it can really help the actors as well as casting directors out. All one really needs are few pointers to figure out how to get it right.
To begin with, put some thought into your backdrop. Keep it minimalistic. Avoid backgrounds such as windows, painting or bookshelves as they can be very distracting. Try a plain wall instead. But make sure its not blindingly white or any such colour which might hurt the viewer’s eyes. Avoid wearing dark clothes when taping against a dark backdrop or you’ll end up looking like a floating head. Avoid printed clothes which are a little too much as they take a lot away from your actual content.
DO NOT use non-actors to read with. The reason behind such a notion is that it will really affect your performance. Instead use someone who is an actor herself. This will give a good and genuine feel to the whole taping process. The emotions and reactions on a tape can only come when it’s a two way street unless you’re doing a monologue. If somebody is just reading while you’re trying to feel an intense emotion then there are high chances of you landing short on the performance you’re capable of giving. Parallely make sure that the actor reading with you does not over power your performance or appear on the camera. It needs to be about you and not the reader.
Never look straight into the camera. The idea is to be as natural and comfortable while playing a role and if you’re constantly looking into the camera then it could be a problem. Instead get the reader to stand on the side and at such an angle that the whole process looks natural. Get a shoulder and head shot instead of going wider, this too will make sure that every emotion you’re trying to protray is captured.
One great thing is you don’t need to buy an expensive lighting kit or hire a professional studio to make your tape perfect. Use lamps and such lights that will make you look comfortable. Avoid overhead lighting and fluorescent lightings as they are unflattering no matter how good looking you are. Unless you’re Ryan Gosling or Aishwariya Rai. Then each lighting is perfect lighting.
Keeping such things in mind will help you get that perfect tape which will enhance your chances of getting that audition that you’ve been dreaming of. So now run along and get taping!!