Self taped auditions are incredibly popular these days with on-camera projects. With the accessibility of equipment, user friendly technology and the fast pace of the industry actors are frequently asked to submit a recording of their initial audition, and callback too sometimes, to be considered for television and film projects. They are especially useful when an actor is in a different location than those making the creative decisions. Theatre companies are sometimes willing to have actors send in video to be considered for stage productions for similar reasons. This got me thinking; if actors pursuing on-camera work have on-camera reels to represent their work, shouldn’t stage actors have the same tools at the ready as well?
Now, there are issues with stage actors using filmed stage productions to represent their work. So to be clear, that’s not what I am suggesting. When a performance is captured on camera, especially if it is for professional or promotional purposes, the viewer will expect good production value, meaning a clean, sharp image and clear sound. Because of the way stage productions are lit, along with the distance the actors are from the camera(s) and microphone(s) the actor’s work never translates well for the camera. Another issue with recording stage work is if you or any other actor in a production are members of Actors’ Equity, the union has strict policies on recording performances, and the use of those recordings. The types of video clips I am referring to are those of a stage actor’s audition pieces, normally done in the room, that they can send to an auditor, just as an actor submitting for an on-camera project would send a scene from their reel that shows they are suitable for the role they’d like to be considered for. Think of it as having those hip pocket pieces of yours ready to go, but these are on your hard drive going long distances rather than in the room when someone asks, “What else have you got?”
When I was in Los Angeles working as an actor and recording self tapes for actors I had a regular client, a wonderful stage actor, who frequently submitted auditions to regional theaters. They would supply him the sides as a casting director for on-camera projects would, and we would record and submit them. More recently though, living in the Twin Cities area, I had a client come in who wanted to record a monologue and song to submit to a theatre company in a different market. After talking with this actor and brainstorming on the subject I thought if an actor living in one market wants to try their hand at or is already being considered for projects in another market, why wouldn’t they have the same materials they have prepared to walk in an audition room with, pre-recorded and ready to send to these remote auditors? With a quality recording set-up an actor could record their contemporary dramatic monologue; their contemporary comedic monologue; comedic Shakespeare or other classical playwright; dramatic Shakespeare or other classical playwright; their contemporary dramatic song; contemporary comedic song; their ballad (you get the picture). The actor can then have these grouped in clips according to type of audition (contrasting contemporary, contrasting contemporary/classical, monologue/song, etc.), or with the ease and speed of today’s technology they also have the ability to tailor the pieces to an auditor’s needs with a quick edit before sending it off. Now of course the actor can always record these on an as needed basis and then submit them. The big benefit I see to having them ready to go at a moment’s notice is the actor does not then have to go through the stress and time it takes of putting everything into action to get their pieces recorded, edited and sent off. This is especially important if an opportunity comes quickly with only a brief period of time to respond. With their material ready on the hard drive or stored on Vimeo or YouTube all the actor has to do is prep an email and “Send.” And with a quick response time and quality material to represent their work, the actor will look that much more professional.