Actors are in quite a predicament. We are in an age where projects are being shot everywhere, auditions and callbacks are via self-tapes and Skype/Facetime, and while there is no competition for uniqueness, there is great competition for roles and keeping up that online presence on several casting sites, and keeping up the funds as well. But what this translates to is an actor who must evolve in not only their acting, but in their personal, technological, and professional lives as well.
Take self-taped auditions, for instance. This is an area that is foreign to the majority of actors. Being in the Southeast, we have made this a tantamount priority, and we have perfected it. Professional actors in the Southeast audition a lot, a heckuva lot, and know how to audition. With so many actors moving to the Southeast in the past 10yrs, the proverbial audition-game has changed. SE casting directors are given literally thousands of actors to choose to audition for any one role, and they see hundreds of tapes for that one role. While auditioning is an art in itself, self-taping takes that to a completely new level – to really be able to compete at a high level, we actors also have to be technically savvy (or know someone who is). Simple but standard requirements are: a plain medium blue or gray background, good and even lighting to see the color of the actor’s eyes, and good sound. Affordable light kits are easy enough to find on Amazon. A simple corded lav mic with dual mono sound will do the job the best (I use an Audio Technica 20′ corded lav mic out of my DSLR camera. Very affordable). These requirements are so *the actor* is the only thing seen/heard, not any distractions that could potentially make the CD hit that delete button. NO colorful or patterned backgrounds, pah-lease!
This is where I chime in with my Chapman experience. I had the honor of learning from some of the best film and acting teachers in the nation. I learned acting, of course. I also learned camera-work, sound, lighting, editing, desktop publishing, graphics, etc… I was made, excuse the pun, camera-ready from the moment I began my short time at Chapman. My basement houses a studio (since 2007), where I tape myself and other local professional actors. I also use it for photography. I am a live camera operator for live events as well. You see, I have four jobs that are industry-related. I am able to sustain myself financially because of my CU training, for which I am oh-so-grateful. It is one thing to learn something. It is another to indeed use it to your advantage. I get a kick out of saying that I shoot other actors, and all actors need to be shot. I am one, so it’s okay. …corny, I know. Laugh with me or at me, and my job here is done.
All that said, we actors in the Southeast actually do PREFER in-person auditions…in the room with the CDs, booking that room, not just the role…while we hear LA/NY actors say ‘You’re so lucky you can self-tape.’ Grass is always greener, I guess.
Breaking legs in the South, y’all.