Recommended Equipment & Resources
Creating successful and memorable self-tape auditions isn't just about your acting ability. Knowing how to make self-tapes with a professional look and sound is an essential skill in this industry, especially now that self-tapes are the norm. Below are some tools that will help you create a setup to record high-quality self-tape auditions! Our actors use these tools for their own self-tapes, and in our online classes. As a disclaimer, we aren't sponsored by any of these brands - these are simply recommendations.
The first piece of equipment to think about for self-tapes is your video recording device. Many smartphones can capture high-quality video and audio that is more than sufficient for self-tapes. Any smartphone that can shoot 1080p video, such as iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, will get the job done. Some phones are able to shoot 4K video, which can be helpful when editing to crop into smaller section.
Canon EOS M50 Vlogging Camera
While you definitely don't need to purchase a separate camera for your self-tapes, Canon's EOS M50 is a popular choice among actors and vloggers.
Polaroid 72" Premium Tripod
A tripod is necessary to mount your recording device and elevate it to eye-level. Be sure to take your height into account when purchasing a tripod, as you'll need one that can reach your height. This 72" tripod from Polaroid is a great option.
Ailun Phone Mount
If using your phone as your recording device, you'll need a phone mount to secure it to the tripod. This simple mount from Ailun allows you to adjust for various phone sizes. You may find some tripod kits that include a phone mount accessory.
Daylight from a window works very well for self-tapes. If this isn't something you have consistent access to, or if you prefer to shoot your self-tapes at night, you'll want to invest in a lighting setup.
Neewer 700W Softboxes
Softboxes are a popular choice for self-tapes, as they create consistent, even lighting.
Neewer 600W Umbrella Lights
Similarly, umbrella lights create consistent, even lighting.
Neewer 18" Ring Light Kit
Ring lights are a good option as they are less expensive and don't take up as much space as umbrella lights or softboxes. Many are dimmable, and can be adjusted to create either warm or cool light.
A blank, neutrally-colored wall works perfectly for self-tapes. If this is somehting you don't have access to, consider purchasing a professional backdrop.
Selens 5x6.6' Blue Grey Pop-Up Backdrop
This backdrop from Selens is reversable (either blue or gray) and foldable for easy storage.
Julius Studio 6x9' Fabric Backdrop
Fabric backdrops such as this one from Julius Studio are available in a variety of colors.
Neewer Adjustable Backdrop Support Stand
You may wish to purchase a support stand, especially if using a fabric backdrop. You can easily clamp the fabric to the top of the T-stand.
As you're beginning your acting career, learn to edit very simply. You'll constantly be refining your materials as you add to your demo reel or work on projects you've filmed on your own.
Free for most Mac users, iMovie is a simple video editor. This is a wonderful tool to use as you learn how to edit.
Premiere Pro, a paid software from Adobe, is a bit more complex than iMovie. As you progress further in your career and self-generate your own films, you may wish to utilize a video editor such as Premiere that comes with more features.
OpenShot is free for both Mac and PC users, and another great video editor to use as you learn how to edit simply and easily.
Other Helpful Resources
This Sony ICD-PX470 Digital Voice Recorder is a great tool for memorizing lines. Learning by listening helps avoid trying to picture the lines as they appear on the page.
Bonnie Gillespie's book Self-Management for Actors "will help you take control of the business side of your creative career. By learning how to build your brand, target your buyers, create content that showcases you best, and pitch like the rockstar you are, you'll build a fulfilling career (wherever you live) that helps rocket you to the next tier. Balance is key, and the tips in Self-Management for Actors will put you well on your way to having the best manager you deserve: yourself!"
In Jenna Fischer's book The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide, she "spells out the nuts and bolts of getting established in the profession, based on her own memorable and hilarious experiences. She tells you how to get the right headshot, what to look for in representation, and the importance of joining forces with other like-minded artists and creating your own work—invaluable advice personally acquired from her many years of struggle."
"Backstage’s In the Envelope: The Actor's Podcast features intimate inspirational interviews with some of the most exciting film, television, and theater awards contenders working today."
The Hollywood Reporter's Behind the Screen podcast is hosted by Carolyn Giardina, Tech Editor for The Hollywood Reporter. She "extends her coverage of the filmmaking crafts. She will be talking with the cinematographers, editors, production designers, composers, visual effects supervisors, and other leading artists that bring the magic of motion pictures to theaters."
In Josh Horowitz's Happy Sad Confused, you'll hear from "the biggest movie stars and filmmakers on the planet. Each and every week, you’ll hear in-depth, career-spanning conversations...with A-listers like Anna Kendrick, Tom Hiddleston, or Kristen Stewart (all HSC regulars)."
"Hosted by SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the podcast features in-depth interviews and insights into our union and the entertainment and media industries."
In Off Camera with Sam Jones, Sam shares "conversations with a myriad of artists, actors, musicians, directors, skateboarders, photographers, and writers that pique his interest."
In Life is Short, podcast host Justin Long promises to "get personal with all kinds of people, from actors to musicians to deep thinkers who fascinate me."
"Through humorous rants and reflections, host Mike 'Box' Elder extracts insightful commentary from Los Angeles based professionals on what it takes to achieve success in the entertainment industry."