“The Key to Self-Submissions That Book Work, According to This CD”

As published on Backstage
By Melanie Forchetti

Casting these days has gone into hyper-drive and I’ve seen a
trend in client requests for completing casting with self-submissions.
This usually occurs when a client needs to expedite the casting process
due to tight deadlines. (I call it “fast food” casting.) And this
usually means self-submissions are in lieu of a casting session. So
suffice to say, knowing the basics of creating a killer self-submission
is really important to landing a job!

Here are some tips to remember every time you self-submit:

1. Stick to the guidelines.
If there are parameters given by the casting director,
follow them! If it says “slate” or to state your location, height, or
weight, make sure you do exactly what is requested. If there is a limit
on file size or format, make sure yours meets the criteria. You wouldn’t
believe how many actors don’t and end up never getting reviewed.

2. Pay attention to lighting.
I can’t tell you how many times actors will submit for projects when they get
home at night and forget to turn a light on. One woman submitted for the
lead in a TV show I was casting and was great—the client’s top pick.
She sent her clip in and we eagerly watched, excited to see what our
potential lead was bringing to the table. Unfortunately, the video was
so grainy because of the low light that she was barely recognizable. I
called to ask what happened and she said she filmed it after her kids
were asleep. She was scared she’d wake them up so kept the lights off.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to re-submit and the client ended up
going with someone else all because of bad lighting! Remember: we need
to see you.

3. Check your audio.
We need to hear you as well. Most actors use their own cameras or phones to self-submit
and end up relying on the built-in mic to capture audio. Please be
careful because if you stand too far away from the camera, the
microphone won’t pick you up and, ultimately, we won’t be able to hear
you. You need to stand close enough to the camera so the sound quality
is good, which usually results in a medium shot. If the directions
require a full body shot, capture it as a separate shot in your slate
and then record a medium shot for the actual audition clip. Above all,
make sure you record in a quiet place without any outside noise.

4. Get a reader who can also film you.
I applaud all of you who try to self-submit a scene without a
reader…it’s really hard to do. But having a reader and camera operator
can bring so much to your scene and it gives you more freedom as an
actor. Instead of having to worry about the technical stuff, you can
focus on the role. On the casting side of things, it lets us see you as
the best actor you can be.

5. Don’t go crazy with post-production.
I’ve had submissions that could be short films but that’s not necessary. The
more you do, the more it can distract from YOU. Dissolving between
scenes and titles are fine, just don’t throw in a lot of cutting between
shots, a music bed or special effects. We just want to see you!

6. Location, location, location!
Before you pick a spot to record your self-submission, look at the location
through the eyes of a production designer. Please make sure the
background is clean, tidy and not distracting—no crazy pictures, laundry
or patterned wallpaper behind you. A neutral, plain wall is perfect.

7. Look your best.
Make sure your clothes are neatly pressed and don’t distract from your audition. An
added bonus would be to wear something that reflects your character. I
had one guy submit a clip for a spokesperson role I was casting. He wore
a crazy patterned short-sleeved shirt that revealed tattoos on his
arms. Although his acting was great, my conservative client couldn’t get
past his appearance and he ended up losing the role.

8. Prepare, rehearse, and memorize your lines before you record.
In a self-submission, we can’t work with you like in a usual session so your work has to be better than an in-person audition. This is your chance to really wow us! 

9. Save your file with your name.
The quickest way to not get looked at is to not save your submitted clip
with your name in the title. We get hundreds (in many cases, thousands)
of submissions for one job. On our end, your file gets saved in a folder
of submissions and if it’s not clearly marked with your name, it
probably won’t get looked at. Follow the guidelines on how to save your
clip for the project, if given. I recommend saving the file with your
name, project, and role. It’s a simple thing that will go a long way.

A self-submission is like a gift to an actor: you have complete control over your audition. What more could an actor want? You
can do it a thousand times before you record and we would never know. So
prepare, look great, and make sure that technically we can see and hear
you. Follow these basics and your submission will be considered and
might get you a job!


Original published article: https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/key-self-submissions-book-work-2553/