In my head, when my big audition for that major Netflix show came along, I would have a day or two to delve into the character, try out different readings, and find the perfect scene-partner to read opposite me. I would have an acting coach give me those subtle-but-vital tips on my performance and, to tape in, I would have a professional studio (or my home studio) with a background and lighting that make my eyes pop. Well, that’s not how it happened. I was overseas and in transit when I received the submission request. And, the (wonderful) reality is, when you’re a global actor, you’re often not at home. So the best thing you can do is, be prepared for it to happen.
Here are my Top 10 Tips for self-taping on the go:
2. Use natural light. This means you have to shoot in daylight hours, when the sun is out,
near a window. Try different angles, walls to get the best light for your tape. If you have
blinds, you can mess with how much light you want, but daylight is key.
3. Any wall will do. Really. It needs to be blank, but you can take photos/painting off a wall, or move a bookshelf if you need to. You can also buy travel/fold-up photo backgrounds if you want to carry these with you.
4. You can also buy a mini travel “octopus” tripod for as little as AU $14, but otherwise you can use whatever you’ve got to build a makeshift pod. Put a rubbish bin on top of a bookshelf on top of some books-- whatever you need to get your phone to the right height.
5. You will need an internet connection in order to upload your video to whatever platform required. Internet access usually isn’t an issue in most countries, but if it is, use an internet cafe. Make sure your charger has a USB connecter so you can connect to a computer.
6. Pack at least one camera ready clothing top and don’t wear it unless you’ve got a submission! Pack make-up if you won’t self-tape without it.
7. Any reader will do. Don’t worry if they can act or if they’re the right gender or have the right accent. A big casting director once told me about an actor who was overseas and grabbed a waiter at a local cafe to read with her-- despite the waiter's difficulty with English, she booked the job!
8. Use what you’ve got. If you’re on a shoot and you feel friendly enough, ask another actor or camera assist if they would mind helping you out. Use the new environment to give new life to your surrounding and character. Another CD once told me about an actor holidaying in Thailand who used his hotel reception and the locals in his self tape-- he booked the job in seconds.
9. Call on global friends. If you’re in a big city, there will no doubt be local places to put down a self-tape (check some of our previous posts for recommendations in LA, NYC, London, Berlin & Sydney)-- but otherwise, ask your local acting schools or film institutes-- they can shoot you straight to being in the know.
10. Remember to breathe. Do the best you can in the circumstances and feel proud that you used your
ingenuity and got it in on time-- what a global professional!
Bonus! Here’s an amazing video about setting up simple self-tape situations: