TAKING IT FROM THE TOP
How can you avoid common self-testing blunders? Casting Director Daisy Hicks shares her 10 top tips.
1. Keep your eyeline/s consistent and not too far from camera. It becomes distracting when we can’t tell who/what you’re looking at.
2. Lighting. It’s super easy to find reliable lights for self-taping, and they don’t have to be expensive. This $20 ring light from Kmart works wonders. Try not to rely too much on natural light, as the sun can move position or clouds can appear which changes the light between takes…consistency is key. If you can, use the Equity Foundation’s professional Self Test Studios in Sydney, Melbourne or Auckland.
3. Sound. If we can’t hear you without having the volume at 100, it’s a problem.
Another common mistake is having the reader’s voice clearer than the actor we’re watching — we want to hear YOU!
4. Reader. It’s always a nice and seemingly easy notion to get Mum, Dad or your non-actor partner to read for you, but there’s nothing worse than being distracted by someone’s reader not being up to scratch. There are countless Facebook groups and networks of actors you can reach out to for help, or even offer yourself as their reader.
5. Backdrop. Keep it neat and non-distracting. One thing that always annoys me is crushed/creased sheets being used as backdrops. Buy an iron or a steamer! Or just use a plain wall. Never, ever film outside unless you’ve been asked to. Again, use the Equity Foundation’s professional studios if you can.
6. File size. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR FILE SIZE BEFORE SENDING. You should always aim to have your file size under 100MB. iMovie and other editing software make this incredibly easy, and if you don’t know how to, a quick YouTube tutorial will help you out.
7. Tripod/angles. If you don’t have the dollars to invest in a professional tripod, figure out what household items work best to give you the perfect height to record from — I always say just above your eyes angling slightly down towards you is best. Books, chairs, stools, a 2L bottle of orange juice, blu-tack, coat-hangers and a boot are just some of the items I’ve heard people have used as DIY-tripods…get creative!
8. If you’re recording on your phone, shoot in landscape. I’m still baffled over how people are shooting in portrait mode. How many TVC’s, Films or TV shows do you see in that kind of ratio?! Put your phone on its side….please!
9. Dress & makeup. Dress appropriately for the character, and same goes for hair and make-up. Keep it simple, just a nod to the character is fine, we don’t expect you to be in a full costume.
10. More than one take is always preferred! I always like to see more than one take especially if you can show me contrasting choices (It also means there’s more of you to watch!).
A proud member of the Casting Guild of Australia, Daisy’s credits as a Casting Director span film, TV, theatre and musical theatre along with many, many television commercials and music videos. Daisy is among the casting directors who participate in the Equity Foundation’s Self Test Project.