For many a new year comes with new year’s resolutions be it home, family, career; and I am one of those. One of my resolutions for 2019 has been to get to grips with the increasingly used tool for television and film castings – and it seems sometimes theatre too: self-taping.
Self-taping has always held mixed issues for me. For performers there are potential cost savings on both costly and time consuming travel to a castings (especially if you are not resident in London or other major city), the ability to tape in your own time after a day/evening on another creative job, or for those who have to do a day job too. Self-taping can be a useful way to get in front of a casting director/director who are unfamiliar with you or you work, and for those who are starting out or returning after an absence to the profession. For casting directors there is also the benefit of being able to quickly see new/unknown talent, the ability to watch tapes at a time convenient to them and the need to not hire castings spaces.
For me the negatives have always been technical ones: what to use to record be it a mobile phone or tablet computer/IPad – what specifications, camera resolutions, etc plus the ability to set all of this up. Must I invest in specialist lighting as I have read that many actors now do. How to I configure my very small flat for an ideal shooting background and the issue of finding a self-taping partner. If good quality cameras and lighting are needed then the issue of costs comes up again.
There is also one major aspect of self-taping that has also made me have reservations: for me one of the joys of an audition/casting is not just the possibility of getting a job but the experience of being in a room with a director:- you read, the director and you talk about what you have just done and then maybe play around with the text, try another idea or emphasis. You may not get the job but for me there has always been something about getting in that room.
However, until now I had not thought about the director’s view of this, until I read this week’s The Stage with an article on self-taping by actor and director Samuel West which talks about another aspect of self-taping I had not considered. I will let you read the article but in essence West talks about how self-taping can affect the process of auditioning when in the room with the director. West’s article cites his experience whilst casting for this production of The Watsons at Chichester, a theatre production, however I can’t help feeling that much of what he says could be relevant to how actors work across the spectrum of media we work in.