What shall we do until the work comes back?

Don’t let working from home stop you from developing as an actor.

We’re offering classes online, to keep your skills and instrument ready for the brave new world.

Make a commitment to yourself.

Use this time well.

And start practicing your self-tape skills now. The new paradigm of auditioning has arrived. Make it second nature.

Self Tapes Are Here to Stay

an overview by Celia Schaefer

Casting directors are embracing the self-tape as their primary, first-round audition method for finding the right actor for a role. Many of them were on this path before the pandemic, and most of them have joined the trend now, and are saying that this will be the way forward.

It’s a new set of skills and practices for actors to master, and since it’s going to be an important part of the process of making connections and building relationships, it’s worth learning how to do well.

What you want to keep top of mind is “How do I best capture my work, so that the viewer can see/hear/feel the power and nuance of what I am doing?”

Once you understand the scene as an actor, this is going to take some stepping back, and putting on your director’s hat.

  • What is the style of this scene?
  • What medium? (2,000 seat musical theatre? black box drama? Film? TV?)
  • What is the key turning point in the scene?
  • What is the essential physical life of the character, and how can I economize with it?
  • How do I best capture my character in the frame?

Although most self-tapes are best shot in a medium close-up, there are ways to self-tape that transcend that frame, if needed. If you’re auditioning for a part that has essential physical business, or your body is an essential part of your character, you can shoot your audition in a way that lets you frame yourself in a medium full shot for portions of the scene, and medium close-up for others.

And, when shooting a traditional medium close-up scene, the key to this framing is intimacy. We want to see you think and feel. So, generally in this situation, your scene partner is going to be placed very close to camera. Practice finding the best eyeline. Place your reader very close to, but not on top of, the camera and adjust the camera lens to their eye-height. It will let us see into your eyes.

Some actors think on screen choices need to be “smaller.” This language can be inhibiting. I encourage you to change the self-talk around that to “more grounded” or “more covered” (i.e., the character has a secret) or “more receptive” (bringing the listener closer with openness). There are ways to open the door into camera-ready choices that say “Yes!” to your instrument, instead of “No.”

If you want to get ready to deliver your best work on camera, McCaskill Studio has classes that will provide powerful personal adjustments and structure of support so you can bring your best to the table when opportunity knocks. Auditing is free.

Part of capturing your work is mastery of the tech. Unless you have an in house director of photography, you’ll probably need to master these skills yourself. To help you get your home studio ready, I’ve prepared a guide to some of the equipment that can serve your self tape process.

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