Act Prep: Score High with Your Online Auditions

Taking acting classes on how to audition for movies, theatre or TV is great but what about act prep for online auditions? Actors today need tech know how.

Having a foundational level built within your work as an actor is essential.  Growing that foundation is part of your creative journey for life.

However, what most acting classes don’t teach you is how to technically prepare yourself for online auditions.

In this insight article, I would like to share with you some tips on how to act prep yourself for online castings.  As technology grows and the internet becomes more powerful, more casting services are popping up online, making additional room for you to film your own audition.

Act Prep: How To Act for Internet Audition Set Ups

This act prep guide will help you figure out some points to make audition preparation easier online.  You don’t need to go out and spend thousands of dollars on equipment to record digital video for a web casting.

First things first.

Always be sure to follow the guidelines given from casting, based on how they wish to receive your casting submission.

There are different kinds of auditions.  Sides may be give, monologues or an improvisation on an idea or theme may be asked of you.  As an actor you need to be ready for all of it.

Let’s say that you are asked to perform a monologue.  You have your monologue piece and you need to put it online for the casting submission.

Where do you begin?

Act Prep Step 1: Camera

You have a few choices available to you.  Again, this does depend on what the casting director expects from you based on their submission guidelines.

You can use a smart phone with a camera, a computer with a built in camera or an actual digital camera (best quality) like a Canon that you can record your monologue audition with.

You must consider your FRAME.  What is a frame? A frame is what the camera actually sees.  You need to pin point where exactly you will be in relation to the eye of the camera.

For most auditions, the standard framing is what is called a Medium Close-Up.  This photo will give you the correct idea of what a medium close-up should look like.  usually, mid-chest to top of head should be most suitable give or take an inch or two for how you wish to frame.

Medium Close-Up Shot

  • Be sure you are in focus.
  • Camera is level with your eyes.
  • Keep hair away from your face. (unlike photo above)

If you are filming yourself alone, that is fine.  You may need to use tape to know your mark.  Using tape to know your mark will help keep you in frame.  You will know what the perimeters will be to keep you in frame so you don’t accidentally step out of it.

Give yourself room so you don’t feel stuck in one place.

Act Prep Step 2: Tripod

Be sure to get yourself a decent tripod.  A tripod is what the camera rests on.  Even if you are using an iPhone for example, you can get a tripod that will work well with keeping your phone in position and balanced correctly.

Act Prep Step 3: Lighting

Natural light works wonders.  Be careful of using lamps because of an orange tone that has the potential to distort the color of your face.

You can also rent or buy a small lighting package (three point lighting kit) to get the job done more accurately.  You don’t need to be an expert cinematographer but you should certainly demonstrate enough decent lighting to look sharp and bright on screen.

Stay away from shadowy, dark settings and try to keep the background behind you simple and basic without  a lot of object noise to distract casting professionals from seeing you work.  It’s always best to have the camera on you from a mid-shot to a close-up shot to capture enough of you.

  • Keep a light aimed at you to help capture your eyes.
  • Keep the background without any objects.  Just a plain colored wall.

Act Prep Step 4: Partner

I’m including this step because even though you may be performing a monologue, there will be times when you need someone to read a scene with you.

Be sure to have a minimum of three people on hand that are willing to help you, even at a moment’s notice, to read as your scene partner.  A scene partner does not have to be an actor, although you will be better off if they are, but they need to be capable of reading well enough so as not to lower the quality of your video audition.

It’s important to have an easy going scene partner but who also has sincerity as to help you take your audition opportunity seriously.  Choose your scene partners wisely if possible.

  • Be sure your reader isn’t louder than you.  This sometimes happens when they are parked too close behind the camera and the camera picks up their audio better than yours.  More on this just below.

Act Prep Step 5: Audio

Audio can oftentimes get overlooked but in actuality it can be considered more important than visual.  Without really great sounding audio, the work you do visually can get lost.

You can record your audition with in-camera audio but if you would like to take things a step further, it is recommended that you purchase or rent a decent mic that will pick up quality sound.

Act Prep Step 6: Slate

Don’t rule yourself out in the first few seconds by doing a terrible slate.

Your slate is your first impression.  You can only make a first impression once so make sure you do your slate well.  Speak clearly, give some flavor of your personality in a pleasant way.  SMILE but be genuine, not neurotic.  =)

Make believe the camera is a friend you are smiling at.

Act Prep 7: Editing

Most computers today come with a decent editing program to capture video images.  The goal is to keep your file size as low as possible so that you may upload your file to the casting website as easily and quickly as possible.  You may even be asked to email your video file.

If you are more ambitious, you can always purchase Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere and have tremendous options when it comes to editing your video audition.  You can even use color correcting tools with these programs to enhance the visual quality of your audition.

Act Prep 8: Submission

Based on all the guidelines given to you from casting, it’s time to submit.  Once you’ve exported your video, upload it online, whether it be a casting network, video platform site like Vimeo or Youtube or email.

Quick Questions Actor’s Need Answered

  • What are common mistakes I can stay away from with self-taping?
  • What should I wear?
  • Can I do some editing cuts?
  • Should I memorize my lines?

What are the common mistakes I can stay away from with self-taping?

Don’t make it too long.  Get in and get out.  Don’t be on camera for ten seconds before you say your first line.  A couple of seconds is fine but cut out extra footage that doesn’t need to be there.  Keep in mind that casting directors only have so much time and that they are busy reviewing MANY other actor candidates.  Get in quick and finish the ending sharply as well.

What should I wear?

Dress to suggest the character you are playing.  You do not need to go overboard.  Be suggestive in your choices to give the casting director an idea of how you can be a good choice for the role.

Can I do some editing cuts?

It’s best to keep it one shot only.  A serious of cuts can be a distraction and turn the casting director off.  They want to see you act.  Keep the camera on you at all times only.

Should I memorize my lines?

Yes.  It’s always good to learn your lines.  Do your best to get off book for your auditions.  If you aren’t off book be sure that not knowing your lines isn’t coming off as an obvious distraction.

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