I didn't get the show of my teen's dream (see previous post). Bit of a heartbreaker. But that kind of heartbreak is the usual.
Back to the lab.
Not to overstate, with use of the word "lab," the expertise necessary to build a solid self-tape set up. It's really quite simple but there are a couple of things I've learned and come to believe are key, while others might be a lil extra. Thought I'd share mine here fwiw:
This is my set up and I am very happy with it. It's been through many stages and I've pared it down to what you see here.
A list, with some thoughts:
1. Pop-up backdrop, grey/blue. I'm a huge fan. I did a lot of tapes in front of "blank" walls before realizing they look like shit. Also a white wall, for white people, is washout central. Are you a wall?? NO! But no matter your skin color, a pop-up defines your shape and evenly absorbs light. I use the grey generally, it's neutral and a lil moody. Blue is good for lighter, comedic things- I don't get those too much... 60 bucks or so and worth every penny.
2. Tripods. I use 2 tripods, one with a phone camera clip (Amazon) and one for my clamp light. All set. Easy to store, easy to set up and break down. Propping phones on stacks of books is hell, stop it.
3. Light. This one may be controversial but I'm dying on this hill. The most important thing in a self-tape shot (and a headshot for that matter) is light in the actor's EYES. My eyes suck. If I could make one wish come true as an actor I'd wish for giant, Disney, Anna/Elsa ice blue eyes and I'd work year round on television and all my series' would go into syndication. Sadly I have beady, mucky sort of-hazel eyes that a lightning designer once told me are "really tough to light." Great. SO. I want to see that glimmer in my fuckin eyeballs at all times. This is also why I think ring lights are trash. I want light in my eyes, not donuts. Boo ring lights. I love my light. It's a clamp light from the hardware store, I put it right behind the camera to avoid shadows. I put a "high color index" bulb in it (Amazon) and use white tissue paper as a diffuser. That's it. It looks fuckin great. I've dreamed of the umbrellas and those giant lovely box light things that take up space and take time to get out and put away. But I don't need it. This is easy, looks great, cheap, fits in a box in the closet. Done.
4. Curveball - a backless chair! Didn't see that comin, did ya? I use my daughter's piano bench. She quit piano about ten years ago. You have to sit in a lot of scenes. Chairs are weird looking and sometimes creaky. Go backless! Wood box works too.
.5. The only reason my laptop is in the mix here is for Zoom readers. I don't film with a laptop, I don't think it looks as good. And sadly, I pretend to act with my reader because getting the laptop on eye line is a huge pain in the ass.
And that's it, thanks for coming on my little tour, smash that subscribe button ;)
Did a remote audition this week for a certain teen drama that my own teen watches constantly. It may be the one of under five shows in the world that she'd actually be impressed to see me in. That raised the stakes for me just a little. Imagine the points scored!
The appointment was a live Zoom audition, and it made me wonder why more casting directors aren't doing these all the time. So much more satisfying to work live, talk things over, throw out another take and feel like something actually happened than to watch your labored-over self-tape flushed down into the toilet bowl void of WeTransfer. It was actually fun.
Crispy fact-based shell, creamy emotional center.