Most of the self tapes...well...they're just...not great. It is getting better, thank goodness, but overall, self tapes are pretty bad. Here are a couple tips for your next self tape:
Go into a studio
Ideally, you go into an acting studio and tape professionally - especially for big auditions. Going into a studio means you're getting the correct camera/lighting/sound set up as well as getting to read with someone who knows what they're doing. Lots of studios do it - and do it affordably - so just let them take care of it if you have a big audition.
Make your home set up professional
If you can't go into a studio - or the audition is too small to get it done professionally - make sure you present yourself professionally. This means:
Shoot in front of a blank wall (as in: no pictures, windows, and don't stand so close to the wall that you're leaning on it.)
Read with a good actor. I don't mean read with your roommate who doesn't act or an actor who selfishly assumes the audition is about them. I mean read with someone who will act with you, not be loud, and respect that the audition is yours and not theirs.
You need light - think an LED eye light or something with a soft box. You're trying to recreate what it's like in a casting office.
You need sound - external sound (boom or lav) so we can hear you clearly without room ambience or the other actor being louder than you are.
We don't shoot films vertically, don't shoot your auditions vertically. If you're (cringe) shooting on your phone, then do it horizontally. Shooting horizontally is standard on cameras.
No brainer, right? Then why don't more people do it? If we give you instructions on taping, make sure the taping, editing, and sending is exactly what we ask for, please. It seems so simple, but it doesn't seem to be.
Good luck with your next self tapes!
Sarah Clark, CSA