April 6, 2022

Self Taping Tips with Two Unemployed Actors - Episode 89

Its all about auditions. As Actors now, we have to get better at auditioning via a 'Self Tape'.

Max and Sam share their tech setups, how they approach auditions as Actors, even how they edit and how self tapes is changing the Actor - Agent - Casting Director relationship.

Its all about auditions. As Actors now, we have to get better at auditioning via a 'Self Tape'.

Max and Sam share their tech setups, how they approach auditions as Actors, even how they edit and how self tapes is changing the Actor - Agent - Casting Director relationship.


Max Belmonte 00:12
Welcome back to Two Unemployed Actors. I'm Max.

Sam Folden 00:16
I'm Sam.


And we've got a great episode today we're just gonna give you a catch up on what
we've been up to, and then go through how we set up for a self tape. What's involved on the
tech side and also, just as an actor, like how do we prepare for those remote auditions which
are really normal now? It's so rare to actually get in the room. But anyway, those were the days
the pre plague days the good old days, I miss those days and get immediate feedback. I'm old
enough to know as well. The olden days the pre plague days anyway, Sammy, what's been
happening besides being crook, how long have you been feeling really sick from it? Is it like a
fatiguing you and everything? I say for those of you don't know, which is probably everyone
listening I have tested positive to COVID About a week ago. Jess tested first and then I got it off
her which was inevitable but I did for a few days think that I was invincible because I wasn't
feeling anything but I actually to be honest, this is like the lowest form the feeling is like having
the lowest form of a flu that I've ever had.

Sam Folden 01:35
I've like it's like yes, a bit a bit of coughing here and they're, quite sniffily and bit heavy and
stuff. I'm getting better now. But, but it's not it. What I mean, I guess that's what vaccinations
do for you. Yeah, yeah. I didn't feel that too bad. So yeah, yeah. So I didn't feel too bad. But,
but yeah, getting better. I'm free from from my isolation tomorrow. After tomorrow.

Max Belmonte 02:05
That'd be great. that'd be that must be so good. I know I had when I had it in January. It was
just self imposed exile for seven days. And I had the sweats and everything and it felt like I had
the flu. But I wasn't blocked. It was really weird. But then I lost all taste for another week, which
was really hard because I love my food. But anyway. We survived we're survivors. But...

Sam Folden 02:27
Yeah, it's hard to tell though. It's hard to tell that because you have a blocked nose, you don't
know if you'll see your taste disappears because of your blocked nose.

Max Belmonte 02:35
Well see it felt like I had a blocked nose. But I didn't. Like it was that feeling from when you're
really congested with the flu. But I could breathe through my nose fine. It was just it was just
really weird. I didn't know that was the Omicron flavor Anyway, whatever. I didn't know what I...
Well, while you've been busy. While you've been busy trying to get better. I've been off
partying in LA.

Sam Folden 03:00
Nice little vacation

Max Belmonte 03:02
Three days of conference have to say at the start for podcast evolutions just to find out some
more tips and tricks on podcasting, and well worthwhile. It was like 1700 people that attended
in downtown LA and it was great a couple of days, good parties as well and then a few days
tagged on the end just for me because you've come all that way might as well and and then fly
back all without incident and testing negative all the way so can't complain at all.

Sam Folden 03:32
Did you hire a car? Do you rent a car?

Max Belmonte 03:34
No, just Uber everywhere in downtown LA there were those Uber, you can rent the scooters,
electric scooters and just zip around everywhere. But I was actually staying right next to where
the conference was. So that was easy for three days. And then Ubers so just ubered and
scooted, depending on how far had to go.

Sam Folden 03:53
Very nice.

Max Belmonte 03:54
Yeah, I was pretty happy.

Sam Folden 03:55
Those electric scooters are good. I tried them out in Europe. Yeah, hell yeah. And you did you
have to wear a helmet?

Max Belmonte 04:04

Sam Folden 04:04
yeah, no, that same in Europe. Like they have the same things. And just going at like, like I
reckon is like 25 kilometers per hour at least. And you're like, No helmet, you're going down
hills and past cars and stuff. And like, I don't know how we did that.

Max Belmonte 04:19
Oh, it was good. It was good fun. Anyway, it was great. But ya know, I had a great had a great
trip, but and lots of notes to put back into the podcast to help us get bigger, better, stronger,
and all that.

Sam Folden 04:32

Max Belmonte 04:33
So I think, where were we, we had Mark Morrisseys interview go out. Last episode, that was
huge to hear all those tips and tricks from Mark. Particularly, I was surprised to like on on going
to LA. He's kind of like look, you really want to be invited to the party, you know, and it to turn
up on your own Um, you're one of you know, millions and sure there's more opportunities in LA.
But there's so many more people there as well. It's, it's tough. And I think I think the other thing
is, was interesting was his point on coming back to acting where, you know, if there were two
people vying for a role, he'd lean towards the person who stuck with acting all the way through
rather than someone who, as reference to me, well, that's you stepped down, and then came
back for whatever reason, because you sort of stayed with it. So yeah, I thought that was
interesting. But anyway,

Sam Folden 05:34
but don't tell him

Max Belmonte 05:36
And far better to turn up to LA with a body of work, you know, that you've produced in
Australia, to then get your foot in the door and get representation.

Sam Folden 05:44
So. So was he suggesting heading to La on your own? Or the Did he talk about visas and stuff?

Max Belmonte 05:51
No, no, no. Well, look, I mean, his role is to invest in an actor's development. And that could be
anywhere from three to five years, he was saying, and then when they're ready, then introduce
them, because you sort of only launch once, so you've got to make it right, and make it count.
And he mentioned he was flying over with someone to do just that, to introduce them to
American representation. And I guess, you know, his word will get you in the door, because of
his track record, and his relationships. And then yeah, congratulations, you get representation
or the greatest shot at getting represented. So it's that sort of being managed and helped after
being developed. Make sense. Interesting chat, really enjoyed. Really enjoyed that. And next
week, we have Jordanna Beatty, who started acting like six or seven, you know, feature role at
eight. So that's going to be an interesting, interesting episode, as well. But on to today, today is
all about self taping. And I mean, like, even talking to actors in LA, you know, it's the same
there, there's just so much of it. You know, it's, they still want to get you in the room. But, you
know, for the first say, they look at 1000 people for a role. Maybe they get 100, self tapes or
more. And from that, then there's, you know, two or three or five, whatever, that they actually
get in the room, and do the good old test in front of the camera, screen test and chemistry test
and anything else that they want to test. And so it's not going away. And I think that...

Sam Folden 07:45
No definitely not,

Max Belmonte 07:45
you know, because I know we've said it before, how much we enjoy being in the room, because
you can get that I mean, you've got the adrenaline, the pressure, you know, you're you know,
this is it, you haven't got like, you can't do the take after take after take.

Sam Folden 07:57

Max Belmonte 07:57
And you know, you get that feedback as well.

Sam Folden 08:01
Yeah, and you need to be able to put it out of your mind as well with an audition. And I kind of
liked the feeling of work at it work at it, you get this shot. And you kind of get it's kind of like a
performance a little bit because you got these people in front of you. And then you can put it
out in mind because that was your chance. And I kind of that helps. For me at least it helps a
lot. So self taping has its perks, but also, you know, different people, different opinions, I guess.

Max Belmonte 08:28

Sam Folden 08:28
exactly. Like you said, it's, it's a lot harder to get in the room now.

Max Belmonte 08:32
Yeah, and I mean, I know some people who really do enjoy the fact that they have that control,
and can go over and over and over again to try and you know, get the best of the best takes.
But but you know, to have someone in the room and go actually, you know, can you try it, you
know, this way if it's either to see if you can take direction, or to actually bring you closer to the
character that they have in their mind. You know, really enjoyed that. So, yeah, it's not going
away, I guess we could break it out into different different things. You know, from a technical
perspective, like how we actually do it, and then I thought we could talk about how we prepare
for it. And then also how we actually, you know, go about it as as an actor. So for me, I've got
I've got a tripod that specific for self tests all set away little for that one little travel one, I can
go with me. And then either for what I like to do is use my phone because it's, I find it a bit
easier. I have got like one of those plastic brackets where the phone can click in. It used to
have a little LED attachment and but I've got actual lights. I'll get to that in a sec. But if I'm
traveling, it'll have a little LED on it. Because then you can still you know, have some influence
on on how you're lit. And then a Rode Go microphone. So it's a little, again, a little portable mic,
but it's it's directional. So it's more going to pick up your voice more than whoever's reading if
there is a reader. So then I'll basically I'll set up the tripod, click in the little bracket, stick the
phone in, connect the microphone. And then I just put up the two, I've got two tripods that I
use, I'm using them now actually. So one just behind me on a low setting, and one in front of
me, that's, that's lighting me from the front. They're Newer lights, so just LED lights, the fact
that I've got two of them helps with shadows, and I just put them either side of the tripod, and
adjust depending on how much natural light there is or isn't. That way, no matter how I record,
no matter how many, what time of day, how many times I can come back to it the next day or
whatever, it's still the same consistent lighting, which is great. cool. Like within within minutes,
I'm ready to go. Because I really don't want to spend lots of time fiddling and fart asrsing
around, I want to actually get in there and just spend time going through, take after take, you
know, and then I'll just record on the phone, and then I drop it into Adobe Premiere Pro, and
then I edit it that way. Which which, which makes it easier.

Sam Folden 11:24
That's the thing, I like it with self tapes. With sorry, with going in the room and stuff, that's, I
like being able to be focusing more on acting. And with self tapes, it's like 80% of it is editing.
Like the time that it takes I mean is setting up getting the right lighting doing the right thing.
And all the editing and stuff. And the focus on the acting is what I really like. So with my setup,
I generally I have a blue screen set up behind me yet, it depends on what sort of script I get. I
mean, if I find an interesting background, you know, whether it suits the scene or something,
maybe I'll go for that. I'll try and analyze kind of who I'm auditioning for. And what for to, to
determine that. Recently, Jess and I got a lighting rig to keep the lighting consistent, because
we used to use natural light coming from the window, but then you're kind of on like a time
scheduled with the lighting and it kind of changes over time. It's almost almost feels a bit
rushed. So it's good that we've used consistent lighting obviously is important. I use a camera
and a mic attached attached to the camera. So good quality camera, good quality mic, okay.
Because the most important things for the for the casting agents to hear you and see you like
that's pretty much the most important things. Obviously, not, don't try not to have too many
distractions, because I mean, it is all about the acting. And that's why I guess they're like just
kind of blank backdrops and stuff like that. But I mean, if you can think of some minimal props,
that could help as a as a choice in a script that you are doing I kind of do that sometimes
because you kind of want to stand out because everyone gets given the same script and you
kind of want to make some exciting choices. And if a prop does that as well and helps you helps
you with your acting with that then then I do that sometimes. Also, I think getting the right shot
as well as in, shoot landscape, always you have a shoot portrait. Yeah, medium shot. So should
we shoot from chest to just above the head, so there's not too much room like above here. So
then you can not too far not too close, you can see you're acting really well.

Max Belmonte 13:44
A mid shot because I thinjk, and this segways nicely into how you want it to look. And I think
you're the mid shot is really important because you want to be able to get any of your actions
and I mean, you're not dancing around. It's not no, but but unless you want to get some you
know, you want to you want to get some action you want to get close, but not yet.

Sam Folden 14:04
And also decide what works best for the character, you're auditioning for standing or sitting or I
can just come up with that pretty early so that you can set your camera up because its a pain
in the arse to move it around because you should have a good good quality tripod and stuff as

Max Belmonte 14:16
And as you working through it, I mean obviously be off book. And like I know I'll try and nail the
way that I really think is going to land well and I'll try and get that and get that well a couple of
times and then I'll experiment and do it like different ways and sometimes my out there
experiment I'm looking at it going actually I'm going to put that one in and I sort of you know I
quite enjoy mixing it up a bit that way.

Sam Folden 14:48
Yeah. Yeah, definitely 100%

Max Belmonte 14:52
Because I think I think then when you're looking at from going back to technical now what are
you looking at editing it finally I like I tend to put the one that I think will land the best,
whatever that one is that of all the options, first and foremost. And then I might do one or two
more of the very different way out there.

Sam Folden 15:13
Yeah, especially I think, especially if they asked you to do, which occasionally happens ask you
to send through a couple takes make.

Max Belmonte 15:20
Even if they dont I do it.

Sam Folden 15:23
Yeah, exactly. If they don't probably don't do it. But if Yeah, if they do ask, just make just
differentiate between them, place them different characters show some don't just send two of
the exact same ones pretty much. They asked me for a reason,

Max Belmonte 15:38
a couple of times a couple of times. Like I've got three versions and I've gone and removed one
of the versions and just put, like there's the meat of it, that I really wanted them to see how I
could pull it off in multiple different ways. I just like edit it down really tight. So I've got the way
that I think is going to land the full scene. So I've done what I've said, Yep. And then I've got all
these little bits just back to back of me doing that meaty section over and over different ways,
like a few different ways, through four or five, and then a full scene done very differently. I
remember getting feedback. I did one like that for a television commercial. Having said that, I
didn't get the commercial. But I got another gig through that casting director. So and he's like,
Oh, I really loved that. That audition, it was great. I played the whole thing for the client. It's
just that the client wanted to go with somebody looked older on screen. So

Sam Folden 16:39
that's a compliment


Max Belmonte 16:40
but yeah, because and that was one where I did here's the full scene the way I think it'll land.
And then lots of different moments of me doing it in a comical sort of over the top way back to
back to back and then straight into like a punchy final scene. Yes. 100%, the scene that they
wanted, but just done a bit differently.

Sam Folden 17:01
Yeah. And as as we were talking about before, with self tapes, you can do as many takes as you
want to try and nail it. And but what I find is that the first few are usually the most natural ones,
the most natural acting because you know, you're not overthinking over analyzing.

Max Belmonte 17:18
Yeah, so you're right, it's so easy to get into that, that rabbit hole and you just spend so long
going over and over and over and trying to get that extra 1%. It's like oh my god.

Sam Folden 17:30
Nothing's perfect. You just and there's no right or wrong either. You just got to do your best.
Good acting, you just got to make... nail it with the emotion and the realism and yet find which
one works best yet.

Max Belmonte 17:45
So I think so there we go. We've covered technical, we've covered how we approach it. And
we've covered the editing, like, I know I've done it a few different ways. And I guess there's no
really, certainly one right way. It's just you know, use your gut use your instinct when it comes
to putting the package together to send away because, yeah, you know, you don't want to be
too out there and distract from the piece of work. You know, you certainly don't want to be
doing things like changing the lines and all that sort of stuff.

Sam Folden 18:23
Yeah, well, I mean, make it interesting and different in your acting. But everything else keep it
quite simple because it will be a pain in the ass for them to get through all this flashy editing
with massive titles everywhere.

Max Belmonte 18:36
Yeah, the SuperS over the top.

Sam Folden 18:37
You don't need all

Max Belmonte 18:38
Huge intro and

Sam Folden 18:40
that's not how you want to stand out. You want to stand out for the acting

Max Belmonte 18:43
My head shots over here is he's a journey of Max.

Sam Folden 18:47
Yeah. And it's all that before the actual self tape.

Max Belmonte 18:49
With some generic YouTube music playing over the top of it. Yeah. And then you start with the
"Hey, guys".
Sam Folden 18:57
I know. Yeah. Oh, yeah. And your introduction to camera. This took me a long, long time. You're
nervous. And you're just introducing yourself. Yeah. What the hell... Just be confident and just
kind of it takes time. But just booking dead at the camera and just saying, Hi, my name is Sam
or whatever it is.

Max Belmonte 19:15
Yeah, you're right. That's really a couple of have forgotten about that. You're absolutely right.
Because you want to be authentic because that's the only time they actually get to see you.

Sam Folden 19:24
Don't be nervous. Like it's hard to not be, I get it but like with the introduction to camera
because you aren't playing that character your being you and just introducing yourself saying
your height and age

Max Belmonte 19:36
and like I said thats the only window into who you are. They don't see you, they go straight to
the character. So

Sam Folden 19:43
that's almost like the first impression.

Max Belmonte 19:45
Yeah, don't much it up.

Sam Folden 19:47
Exactly, exactly. Just say it confidently and calmly and clearly. Don't trip over your words. Don't
trip over your age, or anything like that r

Max Belmonte 19:56
elaxed and authentic.

Sam Folden 19:57
Yes, exactly.

Max Belmonte 20:00
Heaps of tips, heaps heaps, I love it. It's great. It's awesome. And I think and what you don't see
is the fact that we've done this so many times with so much different tech. It just sounds easy,
you know, do it this way, do it that way. But like it's lots and lots of takes. Imagine if we could
add up all those takes Sam and see like, even from the first ones with poor tech and
everything. All the way through to how we got our setups now, it'd be hilarious.

Sam Folden 20:25
Yeah, yeah. You'd really be able to see the difference.

Max Belmonte 20:29
The iceberg. We're giving you the tip of the iceberg. But it's a whole lot of work to get to this
point of what works for us. And let us know if you've if you approach it differently. By all means,
get in touch, let us know what works for you.

Sam Folden 20:45
Yeah, different outlooks and points of view.

Max Belmonte 20:47
Because this is something we can touch on gain, for sure. Because it's definitely going to be a
norm now for all Actors I remember Anoosh Zarkesh, the Australian award winning casting
director we interviewed recently, she said, you know, what's really interesting now is that
agents are suddenly because they've asking for all their clients who submit, particularly self
test for a role, they can actually start to actually see like, it's like they've suddenly brought into
that room that space they don't normally see. Normally, they just see their actors. Normally,
they're just asking for feedback when they're told no, or whatever. But now they're actually
able to say, and I know Mark mentioned it to how great it is to be able to say, actually, every
now and then push back and go, you know, what, can you tweak this a little bit there and
tweaked a little bit there. So you've got another set of, I guess that's a really good positive that
you've got another set of eyes? Yeah, that can sort of say, and also they're seeing you more
regularly, then how you're how you're, how you're acting, how you're going? What works for
you. And I think that's, that's really helpful, too, which normally they wouldn't. So I guess
there's some positive in there.

Sam Folden 22:00

Yep. 100%,

Max Belmonte 22:01
because Mark certainly likes to see them. And, yeah, it's just something I really hadn't thought
of, like from the agents perspective before when it comes to self tapes. Well, there you go.
Another great episode full of lots of tips and tricks, and this time on self tapes next week, make
sure you follow download and listen because next week, an interview with Jordanna Beatty an
actress who's got years of years of experience years and she's only 23. I'm Max.

Sam Folden 22:36
I'm Sam

Max Belmonte 22:36
And you'll hear us next week bye.