Being a bi-coastal curious actor means that you should be ready to put yourself “on tape” for an audition at the drop of a hat. It’s becoming more common, and thus more crucial, to know how to do it in manner that’s easy for casting directors and sells you in the best way possible. So, here are a few things to keep in mind for next time.
Just slate it.
I know it feels super awkward, but when slating, keep calm and carry on. Make it a casual and conversational intro: “Hi guys, I'm so-and-so. I'm 5’8” and reading for the role of Rhett Butler. I'm in NYC this week, so I am putting this reading on tape for you.” Begin with a body shot and profile. Start wide, getting as much of you, head to toe, as possible. Then give a turn, and turn back.
De frame, Boss! De frame!
For the actual reading, keep your shot simple. No zooms, pans, cross fades, etc. From the middle of your chest to the top of your head is the preferred framing. If you are doing a lot of movement that is crucial to the scene, adjust as needed. But your eyes and face are the crux of the performance and what you will ultimately be judged on.
Don't project, shout, or whisper.
Casting directors need to be able to hear you clearly to be able to cast you. It should not feel like you are performing on stage. Speak as if you were having a real conversation. It should be what is appropriate for the scene without going to extremes. If your character is loud, be loud within reason. If your character is quiet, be quiet (provided that it’s still audible). Some common sense required.
Take one for the team.
“How many takes should I do?” I advise recording everything, even your warm ups. There’s nothing worse than feeling like “it was better in rehearsal.” Shoot as many takes as you like (and your crew will tolerate), but only send in ONE for each scene, unless told otherwise by the casting office.
Marry the elements.
Edit all of your takes into a single file: Slate first, then the first scene (if you did multiple takes, then put them back to back), then the next scene, etc. Label the file in a way that makes it easy to recognize (your name, project, character).
The hardest part of all of this: Send it over and forget you ever did it. “Urgently needed" videos sometimes take weeks to get watched. More than likely, you will never get any feedback on it. It’s easy to get hung up on what you could have done different, but just like with an audition in the room, once it’s done, it’s done! Don't obsess. And don't be too surprised if you get a call two months later saying that you got the job you were sure had already been filmed.