Welcome everyone, this is “Ask Bob Blume”, a weekly visual column with summary that discuss’ issues pertinent to today’s entertainment industry and appears exclusively here on Times Square Chronicles. I’m your host and president of Step Forward Entertainment, a talent management and production company located in both New York and Los Angeles.
Today’s column on Easter Weekend is important for actors. Recently, I have canvassed a number of agents and managers from both coasts with respect to what is most needed from clients to be able to do their job. Resoundingly, it was that actors need to have good pictures and good technical equipment to succeed in today’s entertainment industry.
To even get in the game, you must have great pictures. Casting directors are reviewing thousands of pictures for every role and if your picture doesn’t pop out, you will get an audition. It is that simple.
There are four basic shots you need to have on your casting websites.
First, you need “the money shot”, the one they will display if you get nominated for an Academy Award
Next, you must have “the brand shot” which will reflect your primary brand.
Third, you need “a sitcom shot.”
Finally, you need “the episodic shot.”
Then you can add to those specific character shots that are a fit for you and the roles you would be cast in.
Now, with respect to the audition, in today’s environment, most auditions are via video self-tape or virtual live auditions on Zoom, Eco Cast, Skype, etc., where the tech requirements are as important as the talent necessary to book the role.
The actor needs to make sure their auditions properly reflect their performance with the best lighting, sound and video quality.
Please understand that if you submit a tape with low or bad sound and blurry video, the CD will delete it, and all your work was for nothing.
What is required to have good tech is not that expensive, assuming you have a good camera to shoot quality video. For lighting, background and sound, you should not need to invest more than $400 and most of the equipment can be found online and be delivered by companies like Amazon, B&H Photo, etc. You must do it – this is your career!
For quality lighting, you can have a ring light with phone camera holder within the light and/or below on the stand. The one I have is available for $89 on Amazon. In addition, you can buy photography photo lighting with soft filters. With one unit, you have to shoot straight ahead, but with two instruments, one on either side, you will eliminate shadows for better video quality.
Backgrounds that are plain are most important in auditions. You can use green and the virtual backgrounds on Zoom or other software will work; however, I recommend an off-white, tan, grey or neutral background. Try not to use black as those with darker clothes and hair will blend in with the background to make the video unattractive. Also, do not make the mistake I did early on and forget to steam the background when hanging so there are no wrinkles or folds to distract the viewer.
With respect to sound, if you are filming in a small quiet room with a quality phone camera or camera with shotgun mic, you should be fine. However, I would recommend a lavalier or pin mic that pins to your lapel for the best sound. That mic will also make sure your reader does not sound louder than you on the video.
Also, very important to remember is that casting wants most videos shot horizontal (widescreen) and usually only allows smart phone vertical videos when requesting a full body shot. Important here is to always follow instructions specific to the individual audition and the CD’s requirements.
When you have shot your audition (assuming it is not a virtual live one), you will need to transfer the video to the computer to edit and send. Note that many of the top smart phones have editing features right on the phone. Additional software can also be purchased.
It is most important to have modern equipment with proper software. Please remember that the size of the video, assuming CD has not dictated anything else specifically, cannot be more than 500mgs or it will not upload to any of the casting director sites such as Eco Cast, Casting Networks, CastitTalent. To be safe, if you are shooting in HD, you might invest $75 in a software that converts video.
Finally, I want to touch on the reader issue which is more difficult during these times of Covid. Many clients have perfected the art of recording the role of the reader, while leaving space for them to audition to themselves delivering their lines. You do this and you are totally self-sufficient. If this is difficult for you, you can have a reader via the phone, computer, Zoom, etc.
I hope this information has been helpful to you and wish you a lot of bookings! Goodbye for now!
Step Forward Entertainment site is http://www.stepforwardentertainment.com/
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