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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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Maybe it’s better in Atlanta? Read on to find out how moving to a smaller market can mean more auditions. Guest Blog post from Hilary Pingle, a brave and talented actor who moved from Los Angeles to Atlanta and reports here on the ATL market and how to capitalize on it!

So you are thinking about moving to a smaller market, like Atlanta, for the MV5BMjIyMTA2NTAyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTE2ODU1NjE@._V1_UX214_CR0,0,214,317_AL_ film and tv industry—great! The two big things I learned in my first year in the south is 1) Embrace the differences and 2) Be ready to travel!

Stop comparing ATL to LA—it’s different, it’s new, you’re new. The quicker you can accept this fact, the happier and more fulfilled you will be in the transition. However, since these differences help educate you on a possible location change—let’s chat! What are these differences? Let me give you a quick and brief rundown.

AUDITIONS: Since this is thing I’m asked most about, I’ll cover as much as I can here. You’ll get more of them! A lot more!

In LA, I was getting about 3-4 auditions (commercial and theatrical combined) a month. This was with some good credits, an agent and manager and a decade of actively networking with the casting community under my belt. In ATL, I average 2-3 a week! The most I have had in one week was 7. Auditions in the South East (SE = 13 states) market are mainly co-star roles, but tend to have more meat to them than your normal 1-2 line co-star. I’ve auditioned for guest stars and series regulars, as well as leads in films. However, SE actors for those roles tend to be seen as back-ups to LA/NY… but you are being seen.

Most SE states are right to work, meaning there is a lot of non-union work to be had, and an actor can do an unlimited about of Union work without being union.

The pool is a lot smaller here. In LA, casting directors quoted upwards to 4,000 submissions per role/per episode. In the SE it’s about 500. However—out of that number, they “see” and send off to producers about the same number of actors. You’ll notice “see” is quoted… that’s because 95% of auditions are self tape.

The great thing about self tape is you can do them anytime that works for you, prior to the deadline. You also have more control over the final product, because you choose what is sent to casting/production. However, you should always be off book, even if the audition sides can’t be seen! The downside, it’s very rare to get feedback—which we all crave! Also, unless you have an excellent home studio set up and actor friend who will read with you, you will be paying studios for this service. Depending on the location and needs of the audition, $10-$45 per self tape. 

REPRESENTATION: I’ve found that it’s a lot harder to be seen or get auditions without representation, but it’s a lot easier to get representation than in LA.

You still need a good headshot, training and business attitude—but they are not so concerned about a ton of credits, because it is still a new market. Most actors did not go to college for this, but are doctors, lawyers, police officers who train in their free time and simply love the craft. It’s also easy to get lost in the shuffle if you don’t work hard.

Your four big ATL agencies are: The People Store, AMT, Houghton and J Pervis. I am not with any of these, and very happy with my representation.

CASTING: There are about 15 must-know offices/CD’s in the SE: Alpha Tyler, Big Picture Casting, Coulon Casting, Erica Arvold, Feldstein/Paris, Fincannon and Associates, George Pierre, Jackie Burch, Jessica Fox, Matthew Sefick, Olubajo Sonubi, RPM Casting, Ryan Glorioso, and Shay Griffin.

And they are all pretty accessible. I am personally a huge advocate of casting director workshops in LA, when it’s done at the right time, with the right people, in the right way! I owe my career to them. However, most CD’s are open to generals, and often will do what is a traditional workshop for a group of actors through an agency connection for free. Yes, workshops happen here, but not as often and they are often geared to the beginner actor. Feldstein/Paris (Tara and Chase) do Twitter lunches about once a month, where they announce their lunch location and just hang out to answer any questions or touch base for a few hours. 

TRAINING: Because it’s still a new market, I found a lot of classes were targeted to beginners. Those actors that have extensive training, where I might be in a class with them back in LA, are now the teachers. My suggestion is to audit as many classes as you can.

Some great places to look at are: Drama Inc., The Company Acting Studio, The Alliance Theatre, and Get Scene Studio.

NETWORKING: Embrace the southern charm. Everyone is so willing to help you out here! There are some great Facebook groups that help you get connected like Georgia Film Tv + Casting, Atlanta Film Community, Atlanta Film Society and Film Bar Mondays. If you have a question—ask, people want the industry to stay here, so they are happy to point you in the right direction. Also, see my above comments about casting for more insights on networking with them. 

Lastly, be ready to travel, and usually on your own dime.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but a year ago, I could not tell you what southern state was where. Now I know. Because I’ve been to them or driven through them all!!  You will no longer complain about going to Santa Monica oN Friday at 5pm from the valley when you get a callback in Charlotte, NC from Atlanta, GA… 3 ½ hours away… one way. In person auditions or callbacks are rare, so when you get them—you go!  If you are booked on a SAG project outside of ATL, usually you will be a modified local hire, which means they can only afford $300 in travel pay. If you choose to fly in or rent a car, that’s on you, do not expect production to reimburse you over $300. If it’s a non-union project booking, you can negotiate, but it’s rare to get a travel reimbursement. But all auditions and callbacks are on you. The plus side, usually carpools are easy to find, books on tape or podcasts help pass the time, and the scenery in the SE is gorgeous and GREEN!!

Thanks for all your wisdom Hilary! Keep up the amazing work!



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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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