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Top Tips For Self Tapes From 3 LA CDs

A guest post by Mai Arwas, an Israeli Actress who grew up in London and now lives in LA.   Mai Arwas...

    Nowadays self-tapes are such a big part of the auditioning process. You have got to be prepared— anytime anywhere— for that email from your agent asking for a self-tape ASAP.

As we approach pilot season, I decided to reach out to a few casting directors and ask them 2 questions:

1. What is their number one pet peeve about self tapes?

2. If they could give one piece of advice to actors in LA today about self-tapes what would it be?

Despite how busy they are, these three top CD’s took the time to answer those questions. Awesome right?


* Risa Barmon Garcia, The BGB Studio,  Risa’s résumé includes more than 65 feature films and numerous television shows and pilots, including: SEAL Team, Roseanne, CSI: NY, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life and Sing it!. Steve Braun is an acting coach and his clients include lead and recurring actors from West World, Mr. Robot, Feud, Narcos etc.

“No matter what it looks like, if the work you present isn’t amazing, it probably won’t get noticed. Make bold, personal choices, explore and discover in the work. The more you can see the self-tape as an opportunity to play, explore, discover, and find the joy in that, the better your work will be.”

“Take a breath, slow down and allow time for your work. Taping a scene takes time before, during and after. Don’t take a week to do it. But there are no extra points for finishing quickly. Honor your work by taking the time.”

“What does it take to have the industry chase you instead of you chasing it? To be in tangible command of your career? It takes you getting off your ass and making something happen. It takes you creating something. It takes rethinking your place in this business, believing that you deserve to be here, and claiming your seat at the table. It requires that you put yourself out there, that you take action, even if it’s baby steps, to be the master of your own mad invention.”


* Terry Berland – CSA Casting Director on legions of commercials, voice overs, films, video games and theatre. She also teaches commercial acting workshops Credits include: The Chocolate Soldier, G.R.E.T.A, Cathrine and Out Way to Fall.

It’s bad if the on camera self taped auditions are shot too close.  Let us see body language. For voice over self taped auditions, I like two takes to show a bit of range. For on camera— don’t over act.  Keep your performance honest.  If you are reading with someone else, have that person off camera. For VO.  Don’t rehearse and rehearse and edit the heck out of the audition you are submitting.  If you get booked and can’t take direction and give a good read on a dime, you are not representing yourself properly.”


* Susan Deming (The Heist, Time Is a Place, The Gunfighter)

My #1 pet peeve is too many bells and whistles up front. I just need to get to the ACTING. A simple name slate is ALL we need. No floating graphics, no still photo of your resume and agent info – I already have that. Get in to your WORK as fast as possible because oftentimes my decision to call someone back is made within the first 15-30 seconds of the tape and, it’s best if those first moments are YOU doing THE WORK!”

“Don’t grouse about self-tapes, please. It’s usually NOT the casting director’s decision. Look at it as an OPPORTUNITY to craft your audition EXACTLY as you want it. You can’t possibly know what the CD or directors or producers WANT for the role – we don’t know until you SHOW US! Also, please DON’T spend money doing a self tape. Being an actor is costly enough with all the sacrifice and rejection you accept to follow this passion. Again, the perfect lighting and the “professional” background mean NOTHING to those watching the tape – THE WORK is what matters (as long as we can see and hear you…)! And, pay close attention to the submission guidelines the CD’s office gives you – familiarized yourself with VIMEO, Dropbox, WeTransfer, etc. and know how to make files fully downloadable, pay attention if you are asked to NOT password protect, etc.”

GET THE GEAR26661222389_633f9a71ed_m

If you do want to do it at home and want to invest in some gear which will also be great for ‘on the road’ here are some options:

CAMERA – you want your video to look good, good picture and not a bad quality one, and of course amazing acting, but here are some options for you:

* You can download an app on your phone which makes your phone camera 10 times better, it’s called: ‘FILMIC PRO’ and it is only $15

* Panasonic G7 – I just bought that one so can vouch for it! It has got an amazing quality, and it has auto focus that tracks you, so if you move during your audition you are always on focus.

* Camcorder – any camcorder is going to do the job as well. – a lot of my friends use basic camcorders and their tapes look awesome!


If you’re just not tech savvy and you need some help, here are a few places where you can go and get self tapes done:

* LA On Camera Training Center –

* CAZT (self tape yourself for FREE) –

* The creation station studio –

Some agents have a set up in their office for their clients to come self tape too.

If you label your file with your name, the role, and the project it will be easy for the CD to find your file. 

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All You Need To Know About the Hollywood Fringe Festival – From a Pro!

I’m on my way out of town for work, stressed out and juggling rehearsal, writing & prep for the 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival— I call an Uber for thgregorycraftsbusiness-1920x1280-72dpie airport and my driver ends up being Gregory Crafts a total expert on all things HFF!

After a most fortuitous ride to LAX, I ask him to answer a few more questions for The LA Actor’s Blog.

Crafts is a founding member of Theatre Unleashed and is proud to serve as its Managing Director. He is also a card-carrying member of SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity and the Dramatists Guild of America, a founding Board Member of the Theatrical Producers League of Los Angeles and a member of the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights. As of the 2015-2016 season, Greg is proud to add “Ovation Voter” to his list of titles and accomplishments in the LA Theatre community.

He has been nominated for The Fringe Ensemble Theatre Award (2015), winner of the ENCORE! Producers Award (2014), Nominee for Top Of The Fringe Award (2014) an Official Selection: Best of Hollywood Fringe (2013), Nominee for Fringe First Award, Best imagesWorld Premiere, (2012), Best of Hollywood Fringe (2011), and Nominee for the La Fringe Award, L.A. Theatre Review (2010).

1. You have a lot of experience with the Hollywood Fringe Festival as an actor a writer a director and a producer, tell me what have you gained from that experience and what do you think an actor/writer/producer might hope to achieve through the festival? 

 Wow, where to begin? Well, to put it simply, participating in the Hollywood Fringe has made me a better all-around artist. In 2009, my first play, Friends Like These ( had enjoyed a critically acclaimed, sold-out six week run in North Hollywood. Once it closed, I knew I wanted to find it another life somewhere. A friend suggested that I take it to the New York Fringe the next year, and when I started googling, I found the Hollywood Fringe website. After looking over the site, I was immediately hooked and connected with the festival on social media, and immediately began a fundraising campaign to bring my show to both festivals.

Bringing this show to the Fringes taught me everything I know about producing; budgeting, ticket prices, marketing, how to transfer a show, how to handle suddenly recasting roles, coordinating cast travel and accommodations… Name a curveball, and I probably had it thrown at me during the eight months I worked on this. Or when I brought the same show to San Diego in 2014 – that time, I had the unique experience of losing my venue a month before the festival opened, and had to scramble to find a new one, last-minute. Found a new space, but no one was willing to travel to it, and I can count on one hand the number of patrons we had for all four performances. Combined. Thankfully (for me, at least), two of them were critics who gave us rave reviews.

Side note – bringing my play to the festivals paid off. Friends Like These is now published with Stage Rights, an independent label here in Los Angeles.

Fringe has also made me a better, more flexible and patient artist. Fringe can be a high-stress environment, and as an actor, it has taught me how to quickly adapt my staging to new environments (oftentimes, you don’t get rehearsals in your venue, and sometimes the first time you get to run your show in the space is your opening night).

As a writer, I feel like it’s given me the opportunity to get my words on stage when more traditional outlets writers can submit to are already overwhelmed and inundated with scripts for consideration.

Finally, the networking that goes on at Fringe is first-rate. I’ve met dozens of artists at Fringe whom I’ve gone on to collaborate with, whether they be directors, actors, or playwrights, and my career is exponentially richer because of it.

2. Is the Hollywood Fringe festival competitive as compared to, for example, Edinburgh? 4272032

It’s tough for anything to be competitive on the same scale as Edinburgh. When you go to EdFringe, you’re one of three thousand shows. At Hollywood Fringe, you’re one of about three hundred. However, that doesn’t mean being a part of Hollywood Fringe is easy; it’s still a very competitive landscape, and even good shows have to fight for an audience’s attention.

Generating positive word of mouth quickly is absolutely crucial.

3. In your experience what do you think the festival is looking for? 

Anything and everything. That’s the beauty of Hollywood Fringe. I’ve seen it all at the Fringe; from commedia dell’arte, to interpretive dance, to interactive and immersive environmental projects, to something that can only be described as a hairs’ breadth from a live sex show. It’s all welcome and encouraged.

If you’ve got a story to tell and the money to rent a space, you can be a part of the festivities.


4. Once accepted to the Hollywood Fringe what does a production need to do to be successful? 

First off, the production needs to be good. There’s no faking that. Make sure your production is Something Worth Seeing. From there, it’s all about marketing. Know what you’re selling. Know to whom you wish to sell it. Figure out how to reach them.

I also say that every production should schedule an additional performance during Preview week, and paper it. Fill every seat, even if you have to give them away for free. Then get those patrons to get on the Fringe website and social media, and leave good reviews. That’s a good way to generate positive buzz.

5. How important is choosing the “right” venue? What makes a venue “right” for a particular production? 

I’d say it’s pretty important, although unless your show has specific tech requirements, almost any show can be done almost anywhere.
For picking the right venue, think about the following: what tech stuff does my show specifically need? Is the space large enough to fit my cast/crew/production elements? How many tickets do we realistically think we can sell?

6. As it is important to know your audience, I’m wondering, who attends the Fringe?  

This is an excellent question. You could break down the Fringe demographics into a few categories:
First-Degree Audience (Friends and Family of the artists, who will come out and support them in anything they do.
Other Fringe Artists (theatre-makers love going out and seeing what else is at the festival, and networking with the people whose work they enjoy or respect).
Traditional Theatre Audiences looking to “Walk on the Wild Side” – Fringe theatre is typically raw and unpolished. There are audiences who wish to get away from the spectacle of larger stages and see something “real.” This is where they go.
There’s more, but those three typically strike me as the biggest ones.

7. Any other super secret ninja tips for us? 

Don’t just bring your show to the Fringe festival; be a part of the Fringe. See other Fringe shows. Connect with those artists. Have drinks at Fringe central. You know you’re a part of the Fringe family when it takes you an hour to leave the bar at the end of the night because you keep getting stopped to say goodbye by your new friends and fellow Fringers as you’re headed for the door.

Click for details on Gregory’s next show A VERY DIE HARD CHRISTMAS opening soon!

And here is another GUEST BLOG Crafts wrote about self-producing. 


TIMELINE for 2016 here so you have an idea of what to get in order for HFF 2017 and when! Registration opened Nov. 15! 


Greetings Fringers,

We are so excited to be embarking on another terrific year of Fringe!

Last week we announced the dates for the 2017 Town Hall & Workshop seriesWorkshop I: Working with Venues is next week on Tues., January 24th. If you’re planning on participating in the festival, you should definitely join us. We’ll have a ton of information and resources for you. See below for more information.

Save the date! Thursday, February 2nd is the first Town Hall and it’s all about the registration process. Click here for the details.

We also want to remind you that Fringe Scholarship applications are still being accepted. See below for details.

Have questions? Send them to us at

Fringe On!

Ben Hill, Festival Director

Workshop I: Working with Venues

The first workshop of the season, Workshop I: Working with Venues is Tuesday, January 24th at 8 pm at Actors Company’s Let Live Theater (916 N. Formosa Ave.).

The workshop, moderated by Outreach Director Meghan McCauley, features a panel of Fringe venue managers who will give you an idea of what to expect when working with different venues during Fringe. This is a great opportunity to meet people who could book your show!

The workshop will consist of an extended Q&A session and stories from the panelists with a mixer to follow.

This event is free and will fill up quickly. Register now to reserve your space by clicking here.

Can’t make it to the workshops? Each workshop will be recorded and posted on FringeTV, our official YouTube Channel. Subscribe to our FringeTV Channel here and stay tuned for new posts.

Fringe Scholarships

Fringe Scholarship applications are still being accepted and are due February 10, 2017. They exist to expand and diversify the pool of artists producing work at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. We have 10 scholarships available to first-time Hollywood Fringe producers who self-identify as contributing to the ethnic, cultural, racial, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or ability diversity of the Fringe community.

Scholarship recipients will receive:

  • Free registration for one Hollywood Fringe production
  • Three free performances at a Hollywood Fringe Scholarship venue. See link for more details.
  • A Fringe mentor—an experienced Hollywood Fringe participant who will guide you through the process.
  • Marketing and networking opportunities as a member of the Fringe community
We are also looking for Fringe Mentors. Click here to learn more about scholarships and mentorship.

The Fringe Scholarship program is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts.

More Ways to Support Hollywood Fringe

The Hollywood Fringe Festival is a nonprofit and relies on the support of people like you to continue our mission. To donate to the Hollywood Fringe Festival

The organization needs volunteers and interns throughout the year. Sign up here.

Key Dates for 2017:
April 1st: Registration Deadline for Guide Inclusion
June 1st-6th: Fringe Previews
June 7th: Fringe Opening Night Party
June 8th-25th: 8th Annual Hollywood Fringe Festival
June 25th: Fringe Award Ceremony & Closing Night Party

Be part of the conversation by following @hollywoodfringe (and use the hashtag #hff17) on Twitter and Instagram.

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You may have heard of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, well this year is the first ever Paris Fringe Festival. In English? Yep. In English. Eh, Mostly.

The festival features both international work and France-based companies, and artists are travelling to Paris for the festival from Belgium, Canada, the UK and the USA. English is the main language for performances and other events. As a newer festival it received 100 submissions for this first year, which is not that many considering it was open world-wide. Newer festivals, however, tend to get fewer submissions as they are not as widely known, hence, less competition. (which is why YOU!) Of course judging by the amazing talent I saw at the inauguration, this festival won’t be a secret for long. (which is why NOW!)

The first edition of Paris Fringe, a festival of international theatre in English, takes place from Monday, May 23 to Sunday, May 29, 2016 in Paris, France. Artistic Director Reka Polonyi answers a few questions here…

  • What makes a fringe festival different from another theatre festival?

The Fringe festival started in the late 40s as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival. Companies which had not been invited to play, came along anyway. This is how the Fringe started, and today such festivals have popped up around the world, in New York, Montreal, Dublin, Prague, Amsterdam, Stockholm … and now, finally, in Paris. A Fringe festival is usually colourful, chaotic and immersive. Performances pop up on street corners, in bars, cafes, theatre venues. The companies are typically contemporary, and the works that are showcased are sometimes controversial, thought-provoking and include innovative approaches to theatre. It is usually based in the English language, as English is referred to as a language of international exchange.

  • Is this a sort of proving ground for young, up-and-coming and/or marginalized artists?ParisFringe poster

Yes. As its history shows, a Fringe festival is usually a platform for artists to showcase new work, a place for young companies to meet and share their approaches. As the word ‘fringe’ suggests, most of the shows are considered off-mainstream, conventional theatre.

  • Who are some of the must-sees of this year’s inaugural festival?

There are shows for everyone – we have tried to offer thought-provoking themes and entertaining approaches for everyone to pick and choose from. The programme ranges from one-man testimonial theatre (Nine Lives), performance-dance (AMOUR), tragic clowns (’33 Kabaret, Tatterdemalion) to bombastic cabaret (Twisted and Tongue Tied), free open mic poetry in a laundromat (Dirty Laundry), musical theatre (Seasons, Paris-London-ROAM), improvised and interactive musical theatre for children (NEW), a murder in a real basketball court (Quasar Blues), stand up comedy (French Fried Comedy, FIEALD), ), interactive street theatre (Encore, Shared/Folder) and so much more …

  • Were there any trends in submissions this year?

It was sheer pleasure going through the pile of applications this year – what a huge variety of shows and nationalities! Naturally, we received more one-man/woman pieces as these tend to be easier to tour internationally.

  • What do you expect to see for next year’s festival? Trends? Deadline for submission?

We are hoping to open up more internationally, and not necessarily limit ourselves to the English language (or bilingual French-English) shows. We will especially be on the lookout for both local and international companies that promote contemporary themes and innovative approaches to theatremaking. After all, we are hoping to inspire audiences with shows that are not necessarily easy to find in Paris. Trends? Oh boy – interactive cabaret? Circus on social themes? Spontaneous performers guiding audiences through the streets? Hard to tell with an international festival … I’d hate to spoil the surprise. The deadlines and application procedures will be published on our website in the next months.


For more information, visit the

And here is a list of other theatre festivals 

And a great article about the Hollywood Fringe Fest, coming up in June! 

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Tonya_Meeks_Eviction_PhotographSolo performance is “…one of the most beautiful, honest, powerful mediums we have. There’s an intimate relationship between the audience and (the actor)… It’s just a perfect soul exchange.” Or, so says John Leguizamo. 

Given that, who WOULDN’T want to create a solo show?!

Well I’m in. And, as I’m doing research for my own project, I’ve found there are lots of resources out there which I’ll share with you. Firstly, In my experience if you want to do something, find another person who has already done it and then do what they did. You will of course put your own spin on it, but hey, a role model is a fabulous thing!

I recently met Tonya Meeks who has written a one-woman show and teaches workshops on how others can do the same. She sold out the Hollywood Fringe Fest and has since toured her show all over the country, and is MAKING MONEY doing it. Here she answers a few questions from LA Actor’s Blog.

Tell us a bit more about you Tonya…

I have worked as a psychotherapist, producer, writer, and actress in solo one woman shows since 2004. I love sharing my true life story in the hope of giving others courage to share their stories as well. In addition, I believe in theatre you have a cathartic process between audience and performer. This is a reciprocal healing process.

I truly believe we all have a story to share and that if we are authentic, vulnerable and tell the truth the story will land with an audience.

How is this different from doing a play?IMG_0963

Solo work is different from a play because the cast consistents of one performer. Though I describe my work as a play with one performer. I typically break the traditional style of solo performance and include a live dancer and sometimes a singer to create a balance with one modality.

What do you feel you have learned from doing solo performance?

I have learned to stand in my own skin.I have learned to love and follow my intuition through performance.I have learned to honor and love my mother. Plus, each show I learn a new piece about myself and the characters I play.

I describe my performance work as a spiritual experience. I have been sober for 12 years and I found my spirituality and faith through performing. This an experience of trusting the universe, being in the moment, and letting god/divine speak through me.

What is your advice to anyone wanting to create a solo show? Where do they start?

You start with a thread of inspiration, a spark, a strong emotion, the thing that haunts you in your life. I go for the guts… the deepest piece. The piece that scares me the most. Yet, in this the light can shine through and the dark material for me has so much hope and light.

You start free writing, doing daily morning pages from Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and then start writing beats or areas that you want to explore– such as a relationship– then break down to specific piece, a climax, for example the end of the relationship.

Then I work in a nonlinear way then go into the theatre and and improv the sections you have discovered in free write.

The most important piece for me is I book a show date and then set myself in motion without turning back or procrastinating. Deadlines are my lifesavers in creating solo work.

To find out more about Tonya’s next Kuai Retreat where she’ll get you started on YOUR solo show click here! 


Tonya’s sequel show opens

at Electric Lodge in Venice 3/30/2016, 8 PM


You can get tickets here

And find out more here



* If you are an artist in the process of creating your solo show / one-person performance piece, I invite you to share your process and your journey in the comments below, as well as info. on your show! *







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