Photo Credit: M-Production /

The biggest draw of online casting is the ability to put your best foot forward. Take a break from crowded casting calls and hurried auditions to let the perfectionist in you take control. Film as many takes as needed until you feel confident uploading the perfect video to your casting software. Digital casting also lets you submit from hundreds or thousands of miles away, expanding your possibilities exponentially.

Self tapes are an industry staple, on all levels. In possibly the coolest example ever, Josh Brolin had the Coen Brother’s shoot his tape for Oliver Stone’s W during the filming of No Country for Old Men. While you might not be that lucky, it is important to put time and effort into creating a polished, professional looking self tape to stand out to production companies and casting agents. We get it, you aren’t a technical filmmaker. All the gear and accessories can be intimidating. The good news is your cell phone shoots such great video that they’re widely accepted for film, tv, and commercial auditions. But what else can you do to stand out? We researched the best, and most affordable, pieces of equipment that will help you book that role you’ve been eyeing.

  1. Let there be light.
    Anybody can point their living room lamp towards themselves and call it a day. Stand out with the refined look of a soft box light kit. This set from Craphy ($63.99) is a great start. With two lights, it’s beginner friendly while still giving a professional finish. The option between hard and soft gels is a great way to make your face pop while getting rid of those pesky shadows.
  2. Find your base.
    A bumpy frame or a squeaky pan is the easiest way to distract a casting director from your performance. A solid tripod is indispensable to making your submission professional grade. This one from Mactrem gives a sturdy base while remaining affordable ($39.99.) Make sure to buy a cell phone adaptor like this one from Vastar ($7.99.)
  3. Sound check.
    Rode is THE name in audio on film sets. So when bringing that energy into your living room for a self tape, it’s best to stay with the classics. This shotgun mic ($59.99) attaches directly to your iPhone or DSLR. Again, we recommend using an iPhone, especially when just starting out. But its versatility makes it easy to use while providing crisp, clean audio.
  4. Back(drop) to basics.
    We’re sure your apartment looks great. But, casting directors and producers don’t need to see your interior design skills during your audition. A piece of muslin does wonders in projecting an air of professionalism. Neutral colors are best. We recommend this piece of grey ($26.99) over a solid white, which runs the dangers of washing you out. Tack it up on your walls or invest in some
  5. Cut it up.
    When actors submit one, unbroken take with no title card, it looks clumsy. Digital casting allows you to hand pick your best takes and cut them together. You can also adjust the audio settings for smoother sound, and cut out any clumsy faces you make after calling “scene.” There are seemingly hundreds of editing software’s out there. But since your self tape will require only basic functions, we recommend using iMovie (Mac) or Movavi (PC) for an affordable, but still efficient, software.

You’re obviously naturally talented. It’s time to make a self tape that proves it to casting directors and producers. And they’re busy people. Show that you value their time by going the extra mile. They’ll remember it, even if it feels like they don’t. And maybe one day the Coen Brother’s can shoot YOUR audition tape. Break a leg!

Want to get your acting career started? Sign up or login to Casting Frontier and start auditioning today!

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