I believe that every actor should have their own home video studio setup, for a couple of reasons.
First, it gives you more flexibility for auditions. What happens when you get a call for a last minute audition that you can’t make it to? It’s rare that a casting director can be flexible enough to see you outside of their normal audition times. But with a home studio, you could easily self-tape your audition and send the video file directly to them.
The ability to self-tape your audition can also open you up to opportunities outside of your home market. There may be a role that you’d be great for, but is shooting in a different area. It might pay enough to make it worthwhile to travel for the gig, but you don’t necessarily want to travel in for just the audition. Again, with a home video studio you can self-tape your audition and email the video file, saving you the time and hassle of traveling in to audition for a job that you’re not guaranteed to get.
Finally, a home video studio setup is absolutely essential for your daily practice as an actor. The majority of actors want to book great jobs, but they aren’t committed enough to put in the hard work required to master their craft. If you wanted to be an NBA basketball player, would you only practice your ball handling skills when you were playing a game? Of course not! You’d be out on the court every day, practicing free throws, dribbling, and working hard to perfect your skills.
If you were a heart surgeon, would you perform invasive surgery on a live human without putting in the practice on a cadaver? I hope not! Yet many actors feel that they can get by without every practicing on their own.
As an actor, you need to take the time to master your on-camera skills. It’s impossible to do that without ever being on camera. Learn how to be comfortable in front of the camera; how to use the camera like it’s another character, know when you should address the camera directly and when you shouldn’t.
Record some practice auditions and review them–do you look like you’re nervous? Do you rock back and forth, or have a nervous tic that you never noticed before? Is your dialogue natural and believable? You’ll never know if you don’t take the time to analyze your on-camera work, and you’ll never get better without putting in practice.
You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg or waste hours trying to learn complicated editing software. You simply need a way to digitally record yourself with decent lighting and clear audio. You could even record auditions using your smartphone! If you start booking some jobs and making some good money, then you can think about upgrading your home video studio setup. But until then it’s more important just to have something basic that you can use to practice regularly.
We’ve put together some setups for just about any budget. The equipment listed below are suggestions–feel free to use a different camera or different lights if they’re already working for you.
Setting up your home studio
Low Budget (Under $50 plus smartphone)
Medium Budget (under $300)
rip stop or opaque vinyl shower curtain
Use clothespins to attach rip stop or shower curtain to front of clamp lights-this will help to diffuse the lights and give it a softer, more flattering look
High Budget ($1200 and up)