This blog post is the "back story" to student contributor, Karli Barnett's Journey article: Casting Goes Digital: The Evolution of "Self Audition Tapes"Back in November, I received a phone call that I had booked the role. I had landed a part in the pilot episode of a potential new TV show. I was surprised. So quickly? They never even saw me in person. All I had done was send in two auditions that I had filmed of myself on my smart phone.
Surely, I figured if I could land a part like this then others could too. This inspired me to look deeper into the matter. What I thought might have been a special exception for a student living on campus unable to drive to the audition between classes, turned out to be a new trend taking place in the entertainment industry.
I knew right away the three critical perspectives I would need for the story: an actor, an agent and a casting director. These are the main players when it comes to the auditioning process.
The ResearchI was fortunate to have been with my agency, The People Store, for many years. They were happy to speak with me. Without this connection, it would have been considerably more difficult to interview people from one of the largest agencies in the Southeast.
The young actors in my story were also People Store actors. I met Jesse Malinowski, Aaron Smalls and Hakim Callender because my agency recommended the self-taping business they had started.
Finally, I was elated to connect with Joseph Pearlman who is known for working with numerous celebrities. I connected with him after reading his articles and taking the chance to reach out. People like him, who are excited to share their passion, made me all more excited to tell this story.
ChallengesThe other contacts however, were a bit more challenging to find and connect with. I was planning to interview the casting director for the Walking Dead but they cancelled due to challenges with the "Snowmageddon" in Atlanta — twice.
I also found myself making phone calls to India, desperately trying to find out if Bollywood used a similar on-tape casting process. Eventually, I was able to get in touch with Seher Latif, a casting director from Mumbai.
More than once, industry professionals declined to speak with me because they needed to focus on “the people who were paying them.” Despite telling them about the project, it was hard to find people respectful of my deadline.
My biggest challenge was the scope of the piece. Once I had determined that self-tape submissions were happening in the Southeast, I had to see if the same were true nationally, and even internationally. I quickly learned that it is starting to globalize. This was a great find because it validated the relevance of the new auditioning techniques. However it also presented a challenge because I had to connect with even more people to make sure that I was getting all sides.
Finding the Right BalanceI wanted to tell my story through other people to make it more relatable. However I also understood by doing this I ran the risk of making it too one-sided. I tried to balance the personal stories with other points-of-view from a cross-section of people in the business. It was a challenge but a necessary one to meet.
From Atlanta to Los Angeles and England to Australia, all markets were in agreement— out of necessity, they are all embracing this growing methodology of using "self-tapes".
In the future, I will make sure that I cover the scope of everyone I need first, rather than continuing to add more along the way as I uncovered more information.
I am certainly proud of the outcome and fortunate to speak with so many knowledgeable and reputable professionals. I learned so much about using technology in the acting industry, and hope that others learn from my story as well.