My child is stuck in the body of an actor!
Self-taping gives an actor a way to get their foot in the door
When they couldn’t get in the door.
—Jason Montgomery, The Self-tape Creative Studios
My manager had an audition for me, but it had to be a self-tape submission. I know actors in Texas, New Orleans, and other remote cities have been doing self-tape submissions for some time…but in Los Angeles?
Welcome to the on-going world of emerging technology.
The self-tape submission is here and it’s not going anywhere!
I got the inside scoop with my “go-to self-tape man,” Jason Montgomery.
QUESTIONS: Jason, when I walked into The Self-Taped Creative Studios I noticed an overflowing bin of scripts and my first thought was, this may be the first for me, but obviously not for other actors in LA!
JASON: I officially opened October 15, 2012 and just this morning completed my 782nd self-tape.
QUESTIONS: Wow! Okay, this is definitely an emerging business! Why do you think it’s come to Los Angeles, where there are so many casting offices?
JASON: I worked at a company called Casting Workbook as the director of operations for LA. I noticed in the pre-read sessions, more and more actors were being asked to put themselves on tape and there were no studios that specialized in doing self-tapings.
Self-submission gives actors a way to get their foot in the door when they couldn’t get in the door.
Plus, there are many benefits for the actor:
- They can control their own auditions.
- They can shoot it as many times as they want.
- They can get the reader they want.
QUESTIONS: I know what it feels like to leave a room and wish I had another chance. This was a great experience for me. I got to shoot as many times as I needed to get the best take, and I am so glad you were such a fantastic reader!
JASON: Thanks! I used to act and now I get more satisfaction reading behind the camera.
QUESTIONS: Actors are always trying to find a way to be seen and what you shared in my session is so important for actors to hear, would you mind repeating?
JASON: Of course! Remember when actors blindly mailed in their headshot with hopes that an intern would open it, or the assistant would pass it forward or the casting director would serendipitously pass by at that very moment who happened to be looking for that exact character and bring you in?
JASON: Now, you can send what they are currently looking for.
Casting Directors post their breakdown on Casting Networks, Actors Access, Casting Workbook, all these breakdown sites and a lot of times they will include the sides. What actors can do is look up who the casting director is on the breakdown, call the casting office and politely and professionally say something like, “Hi, I see that you are casting for such and such role in this project and I see that the sides are available, would you mind if I put myself on tape and send it to you? Do you have an info @ or submission @ email?”
This is your chance to put something they are currently looking for in front of them.
QUESTIONS: Who wouldn’t do that?
JASON: There are a lot of lazy actors who feel entitled and expect their agent to do everything.
Every “no” takes you that much closer to a “yes.”
QUESTIONS: I just wrote about that! Okay, what’s the difference between hiring a professional studio and shooting with your iPhone?
JASON: Nothing wrong with shooting it with your iPhone, but you are doing yourself a disservice by doing it on your iPhone. Think of the number of submissions coming in and the casting associate who sits there and looks at them, because they all do get looked at. If the quality or the sound is not good, you could be passed on.
QUESTIONS: Okay, I have to add this…I happened to be a fly on the wall and overheard your conversation with a top casting director for Sony. She confirmed everything you said, including a story about an actor who sent her an iPhone submission, they liked the actor, but had to ask the actor to do it more professionally so they could present it to the producers.
JASON: Here in the studio you have professional lights, camera, a solid backdrop, great camera, microphones and a professional reader that has worked in casting. The performance and final product compared to a phone submission is night and day.
QUESTIONS: Plus, I wouldn’t know how to edit on my iPhone. I would have to get one great take!
JASON: Let say you have three scenes plus your slate. All in one take is real difficult. That’s the beauty of self-tape; to shoot as many times as you like then just fade in and fade out between takes.
With emerging technology, streaming video, compression settings, you get a high-quality image and it’s so simple to send now.
QUESTIONS: I have to admit, my concern is the cost to the actor?
JASON: I get it I was the starving actor, eating my peanut butter & jelly and ramen noodles.
It is $50 for a half-hour and $75 for an hour; that includes everything, coaching on your scene, the taping of it, the reader, the transmission and sending it in a clickable link.
QUESTION: I saw what you did with mine, after we chose the takes, you added my headshot and a little note; it looked so professional.
Would you give any deals or work with the actor?
JASON: Yes, I don’t like to nickel and dime. One of our deals right now is to LIKE us on Facebook and get 25% off.
QUESTIONS: I like that!
Anything else you would like to add?
JASON: Yes, Self- tape is not designed to get the booking, though that has happened; it’s to help you get a callback or to get you in the room with the casting director or producer.
Do what you love and you won’t work a day in your life.
QUESTIONS: That’s how I feel about relationships! They are not work when it’s real love!
Jason has an MFA in filmmaking.
He lectures at USC on emerging digital technologies in the entertainment industry and has directed over 40 short films and three features, with a fourth in the works.
The Self-tape Creative Studios are in Hollywood and Burbank.
Go to www.selftape.com LIKE it and get 25% off!
Go to my facebook page, Questions & Actors, click LIKE and start communicating with fellow actors and parents!