Since many of us have a lot more time free time right now, due to our social distancing practices, it can give actors some time to ‘up their resume’ game with some new video. You can easily do this by setting up your smart phones or computers and recording some monologues or scenes with your camera.
The recording is the easy part, the more important part would be choosing great material for yourself and getting it up to a level 10 in terms of power and dynamics. If how to do this is a mystery to you, refer to an article I wrote called: 1 GREAT TIP To Become A Better Actor – it covers the ‘practice makes perfect’ aspect of recording your scenes. I have also included some links with additional monologue articles and links to find them below.
Now assuming you have some good stuff that you’re ready to put on tape, you will do yourself a great services by getting the technical parts of your production to a higher standard. Basically the higher quality ‘production value’ you have the more you’re going to be able to use them in professional settings – like showing them to casting directors, directors, producers, and agents…. You will also be more inclined to show it to people like ‘film business friends’ especially as they are often the ones that refer you to acting jobs.
Now, you could just prop your cell phone on a table or just sit in front of your computer to make your tapes, but some small and cheap production items will make your scene more powerful but giving your better lighting and tighter sound. The more these elements are paid attention to, the more time your potential viewers are going to spend watching you.
1. Camera Position
Sometimes the natural light you’re using is perfect, but when it’s not you can move to a different spot or add additional lighting around you to bring out the background, and also to define your backside for a more 3 dimensional look. This is the basics of film lighting – using any combination of natural light, room lights and movable lighting.
I have heard many people say ‘Casting Directors want to see you do your self-taped monologues and scenes in front of a plain wall to eliminate any distractions’. This is one option, but I think, if you’re good with your production value an appropriate room can add to the realism of a scene quite a lot, and make your tape stand out from what most people do. And you would be better off using a room in your house that helped the scene if you wanted to do a little more movement in your piece.
To use various room you’ll need to get your camera on a tripod (one that has an attachment to hold cell phones). Then you can chose any space you like to record and get your camera in the right place for the scene. This may allow you to add some blocking (predetermined movements an actor makes in a scene) into your scene. I’ve done a quick look on amazon to see what’s available – camera tripods for phones. You can get a million variations of set ups – simple to whole kits with lighting and mics. If you get a kit, make sure whatever you get is compatible with your phone type, if some of their elements connect to directly with your camera or computer.
2. Good Lighting
Some ways you can light your scene better. You can start with the simplest lighting around. The light on your camera. Turn it on if you need to show your face with less shadows – moving it closer or farther way will make a difference, so spend some time seeing what works best. However usually looks terrible, so if so start turning on or off other lights in the room. You may get the perfect combination naturally, but if not it’s time to add so lights on stands to get perfect lighting of your scene. A good starting point would be some inexpensive LED Lights for shooting video. Get ones that at least can be turned up or down in terms of brightness and that can also have adjustable color temperature (daylight to warmer house lights – 3200K-5500K to cameraman) – LED Lights for video on Amazon.
If you got 2 additional adjustable lights you should be set to film in a room adequately with some room to move around a little. To get good at lighting, just set your camera up and keep moving your lights. There is a mass amount of how-to videos on classic film lighting on YouTube.
3. Good Sound
The next piece is good sound. You can rely on your phone or computer’s mic, but they usually pick up a lot of room noise pending on the direction and type of mic they are. Sound is much more important than people realize, but the simplest way to think about it going back to ‘people will watch your video longer if the audio is tight. It is said in the film business the ‘people can happily watch blurry video but won’t stand for bad audio’.
So you can improve your sound by adding a boom mic or lavalier mic. A boom mic is used because you usually point it at the actors mouth, giving you that upfront sounds you see what actors are on a film, tv show or commercial. A lavalier mic (often called Lav Mic) are the ones that attach to your cloths with a long cord or by a wireless pack that’s usually clipped to your belt. Here are some options to look at on Amazon – Boom Mics & Lavalier Mics. The boom mics are usually known to be the better sounding options in professional productions but if your moving around in the scene they need to be pointing at you to sound good. So to use, you either need to not move much or have another person pointing the mic at your mouth the whole time. The Lav mic will move with you, but you need to hide the cord or wires to get the ideal shot.
So, if you’ve got good material, and you can get the technical parts figured out with some practice then show these videos to potential buyers (casting director, directors, producers, agents), you will start to rise above the masses in terms of your career. You can add these videos to your DirectSubmit Resume, post them on your social media pages, and email them to industry contacts as needed.
You should be working on new and different material all the time, to get your chops up. You might even want to start writing your own stuff too so you can help show the buyers see how to cast you.
You’ll make it easier for people to hire your and more attractive to agents and managers by having good video that shows who you are, how good of an actor your are, and how capable you are of making things happen.
Remember: make them, add to your resume and submit to more projects and you will move up in your career faster. Guaranteed!
Likewise, your new found production skills will give you better Skype auditions and possibly even give you a new side gig of helping other actors film their scenes!
You can read advice on various aspects of monologues here – https://www.nycastings.com/?s=monologues
And, if you want to find some new material for yourself, here are a few good sites you can find monologues on:
You can also just do a google search like: Actor Monologues for… Women or Men or Kids or Teens or Funny or Theatre or different ethnicities… whatever!