The following are instructions on how to do a self-tape. It is broken down into sections to help guide you through the process.
SIDES (always included) - These are the actual materials you are performing. They are literally scenes pulled from a larger work (A film or TV script) that you will perform with a reader. Read only your character lines. You reader will read all the other character lines. Neither person will read scene descriptions or character actions.
BREAKDOWN (sometimes) - This is a short paragraph description of your character and possibly other characters. It is provided to give you insight into character to inform creative choice in the performance. It also includes information about the project from it's format (1/2 hour comedy, one hour drama) to overall project details including network and studio. Use this to inform your choices, tone, and style.
SCRIPT (sometimes) - This is the whole script provided to give you even more information about the character and story. Again, use it to inform decisions about your performance.
CAMERA - You will need a decent to great quality camera that records sound. That said, most smart phones today are capable of shooting high definition video and are excellent for this. Make sure your camera's/phone's setting are set to high definition (This is brand specific, so please consult your owner's manual).
TRIPOD (or similar) - Your camera needs to be locked down to eliminate shaking or unwanted camera movement. Please use a tripod or some method of securing your camera.
BACKGROUND - Please use a neutral colored background. AVOID WHITE, BLACK, RED, AND PATTERNS. Grey, blue, AND green are all good. Do not use too bright a color either. A hung-up sheet is preferable or a blank wall in the appropriate color will do. Do not stand in front of doors, furniture, or a window.
THE READER - This is likely the most important piece of "equipment". You need to find someone who can read the other part(s) with you. Make an effort to find the best reader possible. That said, they are not the focus of the tape, you are. Hence, we should not hear theM at an significantly louder level than you or see them in the scene. Try to get your best available actor.
SLATE - The slate is the part of the self tape where you say your name, your age (if over 18 say "over 18"), where you live and any other information you have been asked to slate.
THE SCENE(S) - This is what the self tape is all about. You will generally be given one or more scenes to shoot. Shoot each scene separately. DO NOT shoot each scene together as one continuous scene.
LIGHTING - There should be sufficient lighting so we can see you without any difficulty. The light source should be behind the camera. Do not put the light source behind you, shining into the camera.
SOUND - Make sure the microphone can hear you. If your reader is too loud in the scene, you can have them step away from the microphone. Most smart phones have a decent to good directional mic. Play around with it until you get the right balance of sound.
POSITIONING- You should stand in front of the background with the camera facing you. The reader should be behind the camera to one side or the other but close. (See Diagram 1)
THE SLATE - For the slate we should start up close, say your name, your age, where you live, and any other information that has been asked for. The camera will then pull back revealing your full body, and you will turn to each side as well so we can see your entire profile.
THE SCENE - For performing the scene, orient your camera to LANDSCAPE (short side vertical, long side horizontal) not portrait. You will be framed CHEST UP without a lot of space between the top of your head and the top of the frame. Make sure we can see your face and stand about 3-5 ft. from the camera. Camera should be roughly eye level, not too low or too high. DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY INTO THE CAMERA. (See Diagram 2)
Make sure you are playing off your reader and that your reader is engaged in the scene as well. Shoot a few takes of each scene and select the best one to send. DO NOT SEND MULTIPLE TAKES OF MULTIPLE SCENES.
FILE NAME(S) - Make sure to label each video file with YOUR NAME, THE CHARACTER YOU ARE READING, AND THE SCENE NUMBER (OR USE "SLATE" IF IT IS THE SLATE). This is incredibly important.
FILE SIZE - Make sure you keep your file size to a manageable length. Try to stay under 200MB if possible. Your camera will give you options to output files.
DROPBOX / WETRANSFER - Please use a file service to send files, Dropbox is preferred but Wetransfer will work as well. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU TO EMAIL THE FILE.
You should wear the most suitable wardrobe choice for auditions: A DAYTIME CASUAL OUTFIT. Where something age appropriate and flattering. Avoid things that will distract from your performance. DO NOT WEAR ANY COSTUMES.
Make sure your performance is appropriate for the materials. Make sure you know if you are performing comedic material or dramatic materials. Connect with the reader, listen, and process what is being said. Much of acting is what you do when you're not talking.