Most actors I know live in small rooms in London. The younger ones are in a shared house, then they’re in a house with pets and babies, or they’re on a main road with sirens like I am, or a street where some guy with aggressive mental health issues randomly screams out expletives. Either way there’s chaos and there’s noise in the environs. And we frequently have to tape ourselves at home.
Most actors I know, in the last few years, have bought lights, background screens, tripods and expensive apps on mobile phones so that they can email videos of themselves auditioning. It’s standard now, and whether or not you want to believe that the quality of the filming won’t affect your chances of getting the work, for every one person watching it that understands that technical aptitude doth not an actor make, there are three others that say “I want the one with the good lighting”. Not only is the kit expensive but it takes up space – my friend and I built a studio in her living room and it dominated the whole room. The cat was alternately curious and pissed off while we made sure we got it right for her. During the take we’ll probably keep, he started scratching the sofa – out of shot but noisily. Once it was finished we had to deconstruct the thing and all those tripods take up wardrobe space.
Still, it’s better than reading opposite somebody who died three weeks ago. I’ve had a few of those, in little rooms in Soho after sitting surrounded by people who look just like you for an apologetic hour. Some directors seem to deliberately employ actual zombies to read the other lines. That’s horrible.
Then there’s the stuff you have to do. I’ve taken my clothes off down to my pants and danced in front of a woman I’ve just met and then done it again and never heard a peep. I might have been more comfortable in my living room, but the video would still exist. Rumour has it that terrible auditions get shared for amusement. Ha ha ha. Not nice for some young actor who just needed the money and had a brainfart. At least at home, if you’ve got any discernment, you can delete the ones when you get a sudden frog in your throat and sound like Darth Vader…
Funny old business. I still love it. I just want to be working. I’m happy if I’m working. It’s as simple as that, really. If it’s going great you’re working. If it’s going ok you’re constantly having to audition but might be working because of it. If it’s horrible it’s because there’s no audition and you wonder if you’ll ever work again.
Self tapes at least give some control over your output. But they’re rarely done quickly. Build studio, test lights, sort out eyelines, LEARN LINES, choose clothes, hair, makeup, coerce somebody to read opposite you… Then dressing it all up nicely, combining the videos, uploading them… It’s an afternoon.
It was a pleasant enough afternoon though, in this madness, to see a friend because it’s work, and to make a little scene. Lovely. I hope she gets it.