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Friday, November 22, 2019

Our friends at Casting Networks have put together this great blog on how to nail your self tape audition; which we thought was worthy of a re-blog!
Original post written by Cat Elliott, How to Capture Your Best Self Tape, can be found on Casting Networks.
With more casting directors requesting self tapes, it’s important for actors to know how to record high-quality videos. Time and resources may limit an actor’s ability to hire a production company for the service. However, when shooting the audition at home, actors need to make sure the final product can be clearly seen and heard by casting. If you find yourself feeling uncertain of how to best capture your own self tape, keep reading. 
Tim Powell regularly teaches self-taping classes at the SAG-AFTRA Conservatory, and he’s hosted workshops at Netflix, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and the American Film Institute. The actor known for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Ray Donovan” has also worked behind the camera, and he uses this combined experience to teach actors everything from the basics to the more technical aspects of shooting. The self-taping guru spoke with Casting Networks to inform actors about the best practices for lighting and audio, in particular.

How do you achieve the best lighting for a self-tape audition? 
Use three-point lighting. It gives a two-dimensional space the illusion of being three-dimensional. Most actors don’t understand the technical aspects of it, so their lights are too low, or they just have one light. They end up looking washed out and flat. Three-point lighting consists of a key light, a fill light, and a backlight. The camera should be just a little above the eyeline, and then the lights are 45 degrees up from there, facing down on the actor. 
This creates the illusion of sunlight; the same kind of aesthetics that sunlight gives you when it’s falling on your face. It’s more flattering, too. And stand at least three or four feet away from the background so that your shadows fall on the floor, outside of the shot, instead of behind you on the wall. All of these things together will make the light wrap around you to create that three-dimensional illusion.

What about audio? 
The most crucial thing is to isolate the actor’s voice. The person who’s reading should be half as loud as the actor who’s speaking. If you think of it in terms of lighting, the actor’s voice is the key voice, and the reader’s voice is the fill voice. The way to achieve this is by distance, such as having the reader step back from the camera so that they’re twice as far away from the microphone as the actor. You can also use a lavalier or shotgun microphone plugged into the camera or smartphone to get the same effect. I’ve honed my list of “Tim’s Top 10 Self-Tape Tech Tips” over the years, and it goes into more detail, as well as illustrating both audio and lighting set-ups. 
As for the overall composition, Powell advises framing the shot as a close-up or medium close-up. He reinforces the importance of using a solid background that is free from distractions. Powell recommends that actors keep things simple by shooting and editing self-tapes on their smartphones. “If you use three-point lighting and do the audio correctly, they [casting directors] will never know [it] because the camera phone that you have is probably as good as any $300 or $400 video camera you can go buy,” he shares. If you take Powell’s words to heart, the next time casting requests a self-tape audition, you can send them a professional-quality video without breaking the bank or even leaving your home. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Why Actors Should Never

Headshots, headshots, headshots.
Commercial actors should never underestimate the importance of brilliant headshots.

Call me paranoid but I feel like half of the readers out there just stopped reading.  You think you got this?  Some of you do… but a strong majority of you don’t.  Most of you don’t have brilliant headshots.  A whole heck of a lot of you could benefit from new headshots.  How do I know this?  I look at them every day.  This isn’t a message to the commercial actor novice.  It’s for all of you.
Here are some rules I’d implement, if I were queen of the world:
Your photographer friend cannot take your headshots.  I understand how this could be tempting.  Don’t do it.  Just put in the time and research and save your pennies… and have a fantastic headshot photographer take your shots.  Please.
Don’t pay $100 for your headshots.  I picked that number at random, but I think you catch my drift.  No bargain basement headshots.  Again, I understand how this could be tempting.  They won’t be good enough.  Yes, you will likely end up with a headshot you can use… but it won’t be good enough.  A headshot that you can use isn’t the goal, is it?  Brilliant headshot(s) are the goal.
If these two simple rules were followed… there would be a huge increase in the number of commercial actors who had brilliant headshots.  I’m well aware there are exceptions that could possibly exist.  Maybe your photographer friend really would take brilliant headshots of you.  Maybe your $100 headshots ARE amazing.  I’m willing to believe there are a few (like, I can count on one hand) of you out there.  But many, many more of you are wasting very precious time (which is a big deal, frankly…) as well as precious money (be it $100 at a time).  Stop doing this.
There are many of you who are working diligently in your improv class… you are taking the hottest commercial audition class in town.  You are working with career coaches, taking acting classes and are a member of a theatre company… and you don’t have/won’t get great headshots taken.  This simply doesn’t make sense.  The headshot is the first thing a casting director sees.  If they don’t get past your 1” x 1” thumbnail photo, it doesn’t matter the training, the experience, the credits you have.  You won’t be called in.  I’m trying to say it as many different ways as possible.  Your headshots are ridiculously important.  Like it or not… it’s the most important tool you have in your actor box.  Consider moving it up the priority list.
What if you have old headshots but you are being called in consistently and booking work?  You can probably guess by now, I’d say you should get new, brilliant headshots.  The casting directors who are calling you in will continue to call you in with old headshots.  But what about the ones who aren’t calling you in?  Are there casting directors you don’t know, or don’t know well?  Who don’t call you in consistently?  You want to open those doors… and when the newer ones/ones you don’t have a relationship with call you in, you want to LOOK like your headshots (not five years older) so that you are being called in for appropriate roles and not wasting anyone’s time, including your own.
I’ve heard concern from time to time that successful actors with old shots are scared to get new shots because the casting directors won’t recognize them/their new shots and therefore won’t call the actor in.  Umm. No.  Give casting directors a little credit.
Don’t wait for your agent to tell you to get new headshots.  They get tired of nagging actors, so plenty of them won’t do it.  Be proactive.  This is something within your control.  You should be getting new headshots taken on a regular basis.  You want to have a brilliant shot for each commercial type you should be cast as.  So no… not one brilliant headshot, but a handful.  Tell the casting director how to cast you.  You’ve heard me say this a million times.  Feel free to talk to your agent about it, absolutely.  But don’t wait for them to bring it up.  You should.
Never, never, never stop getting headshots taken on a regular basis as long as you are an actor.  And never settle for adequate… even good headshots.  Then, when you’re called in, make sure you are brilliant in the room.  No big deal, right?  No one said this would be easy.
I admire you.  Now go get brilliant headshots, for Pete’s sake!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

How to get noticed!

When you stay current, you stand a better chance of getting noticed. As an agent working in the industry for many years, over 50 to be exact,  it can become very frustrating on our end when talent do not upload resumes and update their  photos. Photos must be professional and current at all times. Your measurements and resume need to be current too.  It is especially important for child talent to keep their profiles current as they grow and change so quickly!

PHOTOS MUST BE AGENCY APPROVED otherwise you can ruin your chances of being submitted or chosen with the wrong photo.
Many auditions are sent to talent now by self tape audition. It is very frustrating on an agents part, when talent do not submit self tapes!   Self tapes are great, you can do it from your own home.  Failure to submit self tapes when asked can result in not being submitted or requested for auditions, unless a good reason is given.
Casting directors and clients take time to choose you to audition, please make the effort.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


We asked Matthew Morgan well known Casting Director for some great points to help talent at auditions.   Here are his top 3 tips! 
1.  Always believe in yourself!  If you don’t believe you are the perfect person for the role, then how are you going to convince me?  
2.  Walk in the room with “THE 3 C’S.”  Confident, Comfortable and Charismatic.  You have be prepared and confident that you can deliver and do a  great job in your audition.  This comes with practice and working hard before you show up for the casting call.  You also have to be very comfortable performing in front of people.  You have to love “being on stage,”&  “the centre of attention;” and you should truly want to “show me what you got.”  And finally you must have some charisma.  That means making a unique impression and being MEMORABLE at the end of the day.  We have to remember you to bring you back for a callback or book you! 
3.  If in an audition, the casting director asks you to read the dialogue a 2nd time, always show us a little something different from the 1st time (unless directed to do it exactly the same as before).  We love actors who make great choices and can show us some range in an audition.
A little about Matthew Morgan  ” Casting Director”
Matthew got his first taste of being in the industry in the fall of 1995 while working on Joel Schumacher’s A TIME TO KILL; a feature that was being filmed in his hometown of Canton, MS. This moment changed his career path, and he hasn’t looked back since.
Graduating in International Business and Foreign Languages, Matthew moved to Canada and immersed himself in the industry and the multiculturalism. He learned the casting ropes from established casting directors in Toronto before he eventually opened up his own casting company in December of 2004. Having studied in both France and Spain, Toronto was a perfect, multicultural city in which to start his casting company, Morgan Casting Inc.
Matthew specialized in casting real people, street casting and finding tough, specialty characters not always found though an agency. Nothing was impossible to find, and Matthew was known for his hard work ethic and charming people skills. After building up a real-people database, he eventually moved into casting actors and focused on commercials and TV series. Finally, Matthew returned to his home state to cast in his hometown of Canton, MS, on a William Faulkner Film, AS I LAY DYING, directed by and starring James Franco. Morgan had finally come full circle; he is doing what he loves most – casting movies! And his background in real-people casting helps him find the undiscovered actors for those hard-to-fill roles. 
Matthew has since enjoyed casting on feature films, TV series and commercials across North America, working in diverse places and truly excelling at being mobile with his work. From Arkansas to Washington State…Vancouver to Montreal … Matthew has been able to successfully set up temporary offices for every project. He truly enjoys casting on location in diverse places, staying true to his love of travel, culture, languages and challenging work. 
Matthew Morgan is proudly both Canadian & American, as well as a member of both country’s casting guilds, CDC & CSA.

Monday, March 26, 2018

You may be blessed with an abundance of natural talent, a passion for voice-over acting, and the best coaching available. However, none of that will mean anything if you can’t get the part. Being able to deliver a strong audition is one of the most important skills a voice-over actor can have. Because, being able to win over an audience starts with winning over a casting director. Today, the Internet and the availability of professional-grade recording equipment has made it possible for many voice-over actors to record their auditions virtually anywhere, at any time.
However, that doesn’t mean you can afford to take a casual attitude toward your auditions. If you don’t take every audition opportunity as seriously as it deserves, you could be missing out on work that can further your career and elevate you to the level of success you want to achieve. In addition to having natural talent and good coaching, it’s essential for voice-over actors to have strong auditioning skills to be successful. Making a good first impression with casting directors can mean the difference between success and failure. The audition is your chance to make that all-important first impression. The most important element of a successful and memorable audition is preparation. You need to prepare for your audition by reading and understanding your script, warming up your voice ahead of time, and staying hydrated. Casting directors can tell when a voice-over actor is unprepared for an audition. That means, they’ll be less likely to take a chance on that actor. When it comes to delivering the audition, voice-over actors need to remember to perform with energy and enthusiasm, while keeping in mind the context of the script. If you’re not prepared for your audition, you may read your lines too cautiously and fail to make a good impression on the casting director. Being a professional means being prepared for every opportunity — and successful voice- over actors already know that.
In the highly competitive field of voice-over acting, making a great first impression can be more important than having natural talent or good coaching. Without good auditioning skills, all of the advantages you have over other voice-over actors will almost certainly go to waste. The following checklist contains expert tips for helping to ensure you have a successful and memorable voice-over audition, so look them over and make sure you don’t waste any opportunities for success.
These tips are applicable for memorable self-tape auditions too!  
What should an actor do to help better themselves in the industry!

Agents are always asked by talent,  how do I get more auditions?   Well  castings are very specific. Casting directors and clients know what they are looking for,  looks, experience etc.

It is always a good thing to keep working on your craft, building your resume, working on projects that you attain yourself,  get new photos,  keep yourself in the know and always up todate.

It is imperative as a working actor, to stay humble and focus on yourself,  your agent is there to help, however there job is to submit the right actors to the casting directors or clients. 

Actors are always encouraged to never give up, and to always train!   Classes are the best, you meet other actors, and people in the industry.

Remember an agents work is 50%  you must put in the other 50%  don't sit back and wait for audition email to come in or call.   GET OUT THERE and get busy!