HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
I took a road trip to Atlanta with a couple of acting buddies for a panel Q&A that was 100% worth it. The networking wasn't great, but the info from the panel was excellent. While we were there, we stayed with my college bestie who works in casting and production.
She told me if the audition deadline is Monday, but she has ten great self-tapes on Friday, she'll send those to the director, meaning actors who meet the audition deadline can still lose their chances of getting seen by the director.
It's not a total loss, however. Some casting directors still watch every single audition, which is beneficial to those actors because they're now in casting's "mental storehouse" of talent for future auditions.
In other words, our tapes are still getting seen by casting even if we miss the top ten sendoff to the director, but don't get too comfortable because that's ultimately who we want to see it.
Yes, we submit our self-taped auditions to the casting director, but our goal is to get in front of the people who actually make the final casting decision, which isn't the casting director.
I've heard casting directors say they will slay dragons for talent they love if the directors and producers don't agree with them, but ultimately, they're submitted to production's decision.
Did you know that our self-tapes ultimately need to reach the director and producers in order for us to be considered for a role, and there's a way to significantly boost the odds of making that happen?
So what should an actor do? I'll tell you how in this post, plus tips on making it a reality.
HOW MANY TAPES DOES CASTING SUBMIT?
Casting directors receive hundreds of self-taped auditions, anywhere from 100-600+ depending on the role.
The panel Q&A I attended had two very reputable casting directors who both said they only submit 8-10 self-tapes to the director out of the hundreds they receive.
We need to empathize with casting directors as actors about how quickly everything is expected to move in the casting process. They don't work for us; they work for the production and view the production team as their client.
SELF-TAPING TURNAROUND TIME
I dunno about you, but this information kicked my butt into gear on self-taping turnaround time.
Submit self-taped auditions the same day if you can.
What if the script is dialogue heavy?
If the deadline is longer for a dialogue heavy script, then make it a goal to submit your audition at least two days before it's actually due.
This, actor friends, will require you to get organized.
MAKE A READER PACT
There are a ton of auditions you can actually do by yourself (i.e. direct to camera or no reader's lines). You may even get by fairly ok using a reader that isn't an actor for commercial or industrial roles.
But for film and television roles, you really need a reader who is an actor, especially if the scene is emotionally intense, which means you need to make a reader pact.
Reader Pact: agreement with a fellow actor that you two will always be available for each other's reads unless one of you has a booking.
Ideally, they'll be from your acting class so you both have the same foundational teachings on how to approach your script. It's also nice to have someone who can recall a note from your acting coach that may help with your audition.
We need to have on-call readers for quick self-taping turnaround time. Start asking your actor buddies today if they're willing to do this. This is assuming you already have a self-taping studio.
HOW TO ALWAYS HAVE A READER AT YOUR HOUSE
Now the issue comes down to scheduling a reader to come over for your audition. Unfortunately, for actors like me, I live about an hour away from the rest of my actor friends.
I made a reader pact with my friend Tracie from acting class because she lived close to me, but then we both moved in opposite directions from each other!
So we experimented with using FaceTime for auditions, and it freaking worked!
You can also experiment with Skype or Facebook Messenger video calls if you don't have Apple products, but the quality of our FaceTimes has been great so far.
STUDIO SETUP FOR QUICK SELF-TAPING
If you're taping on your phone, then you'll also need to use a laptop if you don't have a second phone or camera and tripod.
The trick is to find a stand that will allow your laptop to sit at eye level, so you can film on your phone but receive the FaceTime call on your laptop.
So far, we haven't had any issues with our audio quality, but we've both been taking the FaceTime calls via our laptops.
***UPDATE: I tried this with another friend while calling from my laptop to their phone and the audio quality was not as good.***
Have your reader use headphones to reduce feedback if they're taking your call from their smartphone.
Both of you should set your phones or laptops to Do Not Disturb or Airplane Mode. Yes, there is a Do Not Disturb option on your Mac laptop:
Now that your laptop is ready to go, you need to create a laptop stand that sets your FaceTime screen at eye level. My hubby and I threw together these stackable racks for my laptop stand, which can double as storage.
NOTE: be sure to put something heavy on the bottom rack of your stand so your laptop is stable!
So here's your action plan:
This will bump you from being an amateur actor to a pro.
Remember, it's best to have one actor on call, but you can use any actor with this new studio setup, regardless of location. Just be sure to run a test call to double check feedback before you have an actual read.
If you want to get this weekly training (plus a few high-level tips I don't post anywhere else) be sure to become an Actor Boss Insider. Learn more here.
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HEY ACTOR BOSS,
I'm a screen actor and certified goals coach focused on helping other screen actors that are not yet a household name achieve their most urgent goal.