How Actors Can Easily do Self-Taping at Home

Image of film camera for Self Taping at Home blog post
🕒 3 minutes read

Self-Taping at Home – Quick and Easy to Setup

Self-taping at homeI was thinking about constructing an area for self-taping at home, over a year ago now, but I got so engrossed in my master’s degree and finding ways of not having to work for anyone else, that it got put on a shelf under piles of research notes and essays.

Since my course ended, I’ve had to spend my time searching for some work that, other than for monetary gain, I would not want to do. An amazing kick in the creative motivations. So, when I finally got a breather over the festive season, whilst all the normies were celebrating,  I finally had time to get on with it.

Marie Cooper Actor Self-Tape still
Just needs a little more light needed to get rid of the shadow, but otherwise sufficient for a quick self-tape

I was a little  annoyed with myself for not setting it all up much sooner as it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be. It turned out that I had everything I needed for a basic setup already to hand.

What I used for Self-Taping at Home

  • Smartphone to do the recording. The quality of phone cameras nowadays is more than sufficient.
  • Tripod to hold my phone. I picked it up secondhand and cheap many years ago whilst I was doing a City & Guilds in Photography. (With real, film cameras – it was that long ago). It’s heavy but strong and stable.
  • Tripod adaptor to hold the smart phone to the tripod.
  • Roller-blind or sheet to use as a backdrop to record against. I had an old, broken roller blind. It was too heavy to hang from the wall initially, but with the roller mechanism removed, it was fine.
  • Hooks. I found I had a couple of hooks that might hold the blind up in my tool box (but they would have been very easy and cheap to get hold of from any hardware store). I didn’t think they would be screw into the wall or be strong enough to hold or that the bottom pole would slot behind the hooks. It’s not perfect but it’s enough to hold it securely so that it doesn’t fall on my head.
  • Light source – I think that lighting in my room might be okay. I did a self-tape using just he overhead lighting and it came out okay. However, I do have a couple of small lamps around the house if there are unwanted shadows in the way.
  • The microphone stand is a bit of a red herring.  It wasn’t there to hold a microphone, it was there to hold my lines 😳
  • I have a Lavalier clip-on microphone, I bought a few years back for recording video audio, that I was intending to use. But the camera is so close to me, I think the sound was perfectly adequate without it.

Easy up, Easy down

I could have left everything set up in the corner of my room but 1) My cat is an ******** and he will probably try to climb up it, pull it down or scratch it the moment I walk out of the room. 2) I don’t want the corner of my bedroom looking as if it’s set up to record videos 24/7 and 3) Maybe I’ll get tempted to Vlog if I leave it up, and nobody wants that. The whole setup is pretty quick and easy to dismantle. I just have to lift the blind off the hooks, re-roll it and it rests nicely on the top of my curtain pole out of the way. All the other equipment folds away.

How to make the Self-tape

I watched the video on How to Self-Tape at Home on Spotlight‘s website.  It contains pretty much all you need to know. But remember, you don’t need to spend a fortune on expensive high tech cameras. If you have a decent smart phone in your pocket, you already have the most important thing you need.

So, what’s stopping you? Go tape your face! I hope that you find it easy to do and that you can now get videos out to casting agents. Happy new year and I hope that you all find your dream acting roles in 2019.

Acting as if there is Someone Waiting

Someone Waiting header with dates
🕒 3 minutes read

Someone Waiting by Emlyn Williams

We have just started rehearsals for ‘Someone Waiting’ by Emlyn Williams with the Great Hall Theatre Company in Norwich. I had a great first rehearsal on Monday. I always love the first one. It’s like Christmas. Meeting a whole new group of people, all coming together with a shared goal and a real passion to create something special.

New Challenges

I have a small, but significant and challenging role to play.  It made me chuckle, because although it is the smallest part I’ve taken on in a while, it’s ticking a large number of things that I have never done on stage before, off of my acting bucket list. It turns out that my character in this play is quite a little firecracker.  I have to act drunk, slap someone and kiss a couple of people.

Accent

My character, Hilda, has an East London (Cockney) accent. I’ve never had to use that accent before so I will be swatting up. I’ve done a little bit of research and have quite a long list of movies that have characters with an East London accent in. No, I most certainly do not have Mary Poppins on that list. I will be watching some of the movies over the coming weeks to get accustomed to hearing the accent and try to get the accent in my head, along with my lines. These are some of the suggestions I found online to choose from and I’m ticking them off as I watch them:

Alfie (1966)
Bronco Bullfrog (1969)
Green Street (2005)
Hue and Cry (1947)
✔ It Always Rain on Sunday (1942)
✔ Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Made in Dagenham (2010)
My Brother the Devil (2012)
Spider (2002)
The Bespoke Overcoat (1956)
The Long Good Friday (1980)
The Sweeney (2012)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Seeing as binge-watching The Punisher to pick up an American accent last year for Noel Coward worked, it can’t hurt to try the aural osmosis approach once again.

Drunk

There is also a point in the play where my character becomes quite drunk. I’ve never had to play drunk on stage before, so that is something I need to really work on. I mean work on playing drunk, not getting drunk. I have plenty of former experience in the latter.  Apparently it is quite difficult to do well. There are some good tips on Backstage on their article about  ‘Playing Drunk’  which I will be reading through and practising before we rehearse that scene.
 

Slap

When I first read through the play I somehow totally managed to miss reading that I have to slap one of my fellow actors. I remember in classes, some years ago, we were going to go through on-stage slapping but we ended up changing our minds and just did a ‘shove’ instead. I think it’s because the tutor didn’t have time to go through stage fighting with the entire class. 

If you hold back it looks really naff and is obviously faked. But you also can’t just go around slapping other actors because, well, it’s not much fun for the person getting slapped and they might end up getting injured. I will have to look up and learn how to do it properly, so that it looks as if I am hitting hard, without actually knocking my fellow actor’s head off. Seriously though, I read that many actors end up in the hospital when it’s executed wrong. Executed! Possibly the wrong choice of word.  I mean ‘done’ wrong. ‘Done!’

Kiss

I’ve never had to kiss anybody on stage as yet either. But in this play I have to  kiss two of my fellow actors.  I don’t even know where to start with this one. I suspect it might be a little embarrassing at first. On the plus side I’m not in a relationship at the moment so I don’t have to have the awkward “It’s only acting darling” conversation.  On the downside, I guess I’m going to have to avoid my favourite garlicky foods and remember to take my toothbrush to rehearsals.

Acting Bucket List, Cha-Ching! 😆

✔ Cockney (East London) Accent
✔ Slapping someone hard across the face
✔ Stage kiss
✔ Playing drunk

 

‘Someone Waiting’ by Emlyn Williams and directed by John Bury, will be performed at The Assembly House in Norwich
by the Great Hall Theatre Company 
22nd and 26th January 2019
Tickets are available online from TicketSource

 

 

Handbagged at Sewell Barn Theatre

🕒 2 minutes read

Letting go of Margaret Thatcher

I never thought that I would ever use the words ‘I am sad to be letting go of Margaret Thatcher’. Our run of Moria Buffini’s ‘Handbagged’ at Sewell Barn Theatre is complete. We are already history. Our wigs and costumes have been packed away and we have swept and painted the stage back to black.

“Defeat? I do not recognise the meaning of the word.”
Mrs Thatcher

I still can not believe that I managed to get all of my lines into my head in time.
I got the email asking if I could step in and take on ‘Mags’ on the afternoon of 3rd September, I was on stage for rehearsals that very evening and we started the show on 11th October.

Just five and a half weeks to rehearse in the evenings and get all my lines into my head. I still don’t know how I managed it. I definitely couldn’t have made it without the help of my fellow Thatcher  actor,  Mrs T, Alexandra Evans who gave up hours of her time to run lines with me. She is an absolute star!

‘Where There is Doubt, May we Bring Faith’
Mrs Thatcher

There is still a little niggley (Un-Thatcher like) squirrel of doubt inside my head that keeps saying, if only I’d had more time, I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve… done it better. But I need to shoo that squirrel away and focus on the achievement. It was the longest I have ever been on stage. The most lines I have ever had to learn, in the shortest period of time. I have never played such a hugely iconic, historical, political figure. Whilst politically it would have horrified me to be compared to her, after getting to know her a little over the past weeks, I was quite taken aback at the entrepreneurial and libertarian similarities I began to see that we shared.  It was good to walk in her heels for a short while and yet good to kick them off at the end.

“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s a day you’ve had everything to do and you’ve done it.”
Mrs Thatcher

Handbagged Reviews

Below are some of the lovely things that people had to say about the show. I will pop the photos from the production onto to my portfolio when the photographer has finished working his magic on them.

Handbagged Review

Handbagged Review 2

For further reviews of the show, check out the Sewell Barn blog 

Handbagged at Sewell Barn Theatre

🕒 1 minute readA quick update because I have been busier than a busy thing. I’ve been looking for work after completing my master’s, doing interviews , Simulated Patient/Roleplay training as well as rehearsals for Handbagged.

We only have a few days of dress rehearsals and tech to go. Then we begin performances of ‘Handbagged’ from 11th October. I stepped in for someone who had to pull out, so it’s been an intense few weeks. I’ve had to very quickly learn the play on the fly. It’s been much more challenging than having most of the lines in my head prior to rehearsals. I have got there, by the skin of my teeth, thanks to the lovely Alexandra who helped me run lines.

 

Cassie, the Artistic Director for Sewell Barn Theatre came along and caught our rehearsal yesterday evening and had some lovely things to say on Facebook about the production.

The photographs below were from our rehearsal three weeks ago and were posted to Sewell Barn Theatre’s Facebook page.

Back to Acting…

Photo of Marie Cooper's script for Handbagged

🕒 2 minutes read

Playing Mags

I know I’m always going on about serendipity, but Monday at 3pm was the deadline for my final MA coursework. At 3:05pm, I got an email asking if I would like to step in to help Sewell Barn Theatre. They’d lost one of their cast members because they were unwell. This left them needing someone to step in to play Margaret Thatcher. Back to acting within 5 minutes of my course ending.

I’m slightly concerned that there’s not long to learn lines, but there was no way I could turn it down. I knew I would regret it. It was like the universe had thrown it in my lap and said, ‘There! You wanted this so badly. Your course is done. Well, there you are! Go work your ass off. You got this!’. Then I was straight into rehearsals that evening.

Along for the ride

So, with barely time to skid to a halt after my Master’s, I’ve hit the acting ground running this week. I spent the most amazing couple of hours on the Mid-Norfolk Railway for a promotional photo shoot.  Working alongside a lovely bunch of actors, I bumped into a few familiar faces, and met some actors who were totally new to me.  I haven’t seen the resulting photographs and don’t like my photo-face at the best of times, let alone pulling those faces.  No one but the crew and fellow actors, knows what I was up to that day, yet. so it will be interesting to see if anyone notices if/when the photographs go public 😀

Handy

I’ve also been pencilled in for some potential commercial work next week, but I’m still waiting to hear back about that. It was the first time I’ve ever been asked to supply a photograph of my hands. When the email arrived, I was alone in the house. Being the owner of just two hands, I quickly realised that it was going to be tricky to photograph both of them at once.  I was very nervous having my phone, clamped onto my tripod, face down, knowing it could smash if it dropped out.  I can’t say that it’s the greatest photo I have ever taken, but it’s enough to show that my hands are enantiomorphic and have the correct number of digits.

Sorry, not sorry

It would be too easy now to worry about how little money I have at the moment, coming out of my degree, and how much of a struggle it’s going to be to claw myself back to some semblance of normality in my finances. But I don’t see how sitting about feeling sorry for myself would help in any way.  So I won’t. As always, I choose to focus on the positives. I’ve completed my Master’s now, achieving what I set out to do, in spite of the challenges. I am working with some amazing and talented performers on multiple projects coming up, both this year and into the next.  I am grateful for how incredibly lucky I am doing work that I love, for the opportunities I have, the talented and caring people I am meeting along the journey and that I am learning something new almost every day.