Hello! Welcome back to another Female Filmmaker Friday where we talk about The Industry. My name is Kate Hackett and I’m an actor/writer/producer here in LA. If you are new, please subscribe & consider becoming a patron!
Today I’m going to guide my actor buddies through …a self tape! How to set it up, what equipment you absolutely need and what you can skip. I’m going to headline this with a very big, hard, passionate:
I fucking hate that actors are asked to pay real money to drive somewhere & tape themselves.
I hate it so so much. So I really recommend setting yourself up with a kit so you can do this YOURSELF. FOR FREE. Because you SHOULD NOT BE PAYING TO AUDITION, MY GOD.
Ahem. I’ll show you my set up and even a little bit of an end result. Links to everything will be below — and they are affiliate links, so if you decide to nab anything, I get a little bit of an Amazon kickback. These are things I own or recommend but you can absolutely do your own research. I also keep a gear list here. So let’s dive in!
CAMERA – I use a Canon EOS Rebel T6i. It’s very nice. I bought it because I tape frequently enough and I wanted another camera for other projects. But you don’t need to spend that kind of cash. Your phone likely has a good enough camera to manage what you need, so just nab a tripod for it and you’re set!
TRIPOD – I adore this thing. I just bought it and it’s sturdy and flexible & works wonderfully with my camera. You definitely need a tripod, however low your price point, because handheld for auditions does not work.
Softboxes & a ring light – Both?! You probably won’t need both. Because I’m a redhead, lighting is important; I need them to be able to see the red and in some lights, it’s hard to catch. So I have all three ready to go if I need them. I usually just default to the ring light. Make sure when you set it up you aren’t getting the weird Beauty YouTuber glow in your eyes; it shouldn’t be that close to you.
Curtains (or blank wall, etc etc.) –> I have no really good blank walls so I have these big ol gray curtains that I pull shut and clamp down. They work great! (PS, should I film a house tour? Leave a note)
Microphone – If you have a fancy camera like the Canon, you’ll want a mic that can sit on top of it like this one. Different set ups will want different mics but it’s good to have decent sound like this. In camera sound is also usually fine but you run the risk of hearing your reader more than you.
Editing software & what to save as – I just use Quicktime & trim around any dead air at the start or end of a take. SOMETIMES, when I’m feeling WILD, I’ll fire up Adobe and color correct but… not often. You want to send each individual take as a file because that way casting won’t have to split things up. Label everything clearly: Kate Hackett – Audrey – Scene 1, Option 1. Your name, your name, YOUR NAME must be in the file name OH GOD PUT YOUR NAME IN THERE.
You can get away with a 480 save size, 720 if you’re feeling fancy, but don’t go bigger than that because things take way too long to upload to EcoCast (if that’s what you’re using).
Make sure you let me know in the comments what YOUR set up looks like — take a photo and tag me on Instagram @HackettKate — I’d love to see.