Like it or not, self tapes are much more relevant than they used to be. Almost all auditions have an online aspect in this day and age. To become a truly competitive actor in this industry it is important that you master your self tape game. One easy way to do this is with the set up and equipment to make yourself look like a professional. Below are my recommendations for a low, mid, and pro budget to help you look and sound your best in every self tape.
Low Budget ($60)
If you only have a limited budget to spend on your self tape equipment, I highly recommend a ring light with a built in phone holder. When I was first starting out, I got one of these and it did a great job of making me look like I knew what I was doing. This piece of equipment will keep you well lit and hold your phone steady while you give your best performance (I linked the one I currently love and use). If you can find a plain solid colored wall to use as a background you’re all set for a great self tape on a lower end budget. The light is also super easy to travel with, making it great for vacations or out of town bookings.
Mid Budget ($180)
With a little more money to spend on your self tape equipment there are a few options you can choose from depending on what’s important to you.
Lighting- Investing in a good set of softbox lights can be great either on their own or in addition to your ring light. The ones I linked above really even out my skin tone and make my face look 100x more alive in every take.
Backdrop- If you already feel good about your lighting set up, a great option would be a portable background. I have never needed one of these but my friends swear by their ability to turn your cluttered apartment into a professional studio. If you have issues with viable wall space, a portable background could be a great investment for your career. If space is a concern, make sure you buy one that can easily fold away.
Sound- If sound quality is a major concern of yours, invest in a lav mic that connects straight to your phone to amp up your self tapes. The one I use hooks up to my phone and automatically connects to the video. I find that it makes big difference in the level of static background noise I hear when I play it back.
Professional Budget ($200-$700)
While a mid level budget will provide you with all the equipment you need to produce a great self tape, if you really want to stand out with professionalism there are a few upgrades you can make.
Camera- Using your phone can produce a pretty good self tape but if you want the casting director to really view you as camera-ready, a DSLR camera is a worthwhile expense. A good camera will immediately make the production quality of your tape skyrocket and stand out when people view it. There is a bit of a learning curve to figure out how to upload the videos to your device but it is certainly worth it to up your self tape game. The one I have linked is the one I use and it is relatively cheap for a high quality camera.
Lighting- A hair light can add another level of depth to your setup. This is another product that will simply up the quality of the tape by making you look instantly camera ready.
Backdrop- If you have the space, a muslin backdrop and stand can be a great way to add quality to your tape. Make sure you pick a color that will highlight you and your unique skin tone while making you look professional.
Sound- A mini boom mic that connects to your camera can absolutely change the way you self tape. Your voice will sound production quality which will instantly catch the attention of any Casting Director making it a worthwhile investment if you have the extra cast.
Whether you’re just getting starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, you know that a good self tape can really make or break a job opportunity. While nothing can beat a great self tape performance, the technical aspects should never be ignored. No matter what you have to spend, a good investment can make an incredible difference in the quality of the tape and your confidence in yourself.