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SELF-TAPING YOUR AUDITION USING YOUR iPHONE

By Marci Liroff
Having just worked on a feature film where we were asking for actors to send in their self-taped auditions from around the world, I realized that actors are becoming more empowered and self-sufficient by learning how to tape their auditions. But do yourself a favor and make sure you do it well – taping your audition on your laptop should be a last resort. Make sure to show yourself at your best. Lighting, sound, good quality video and a talented reader will help make your audition as great as it should be.
Some are still stymied by the process and our guest bloggers Tara Tomicevic and Leslie-Ann Huff are here to explain an easy and very inexpensive “work around” using your iPhone. Yes, your iPhone!
When we started noticing how often self-taped auditions are requested (a friend booked a pilot through a self-tape this year!), we figured there had to be a way to get it done that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. We discovered that there is!
Taking matters into our own hands, we started meeting twice a week, practicing and playing around with equipment. Since we weren’t working on an actual audition (yet), this gave us some room to try things, both technically and with our acting. Then, when it came time to send one in, we knew what we were doing.
The following tips are meant to add to Marci’s blog entry How To Self-Tape Your Audition Like A Rockstar, which already covers all the important basics. Hopefully these tips will help to make it even easier.
JUST USE YOUR PHONE:
The camera on the iPhone 4 or iPhone 5 records considerably high-quality video. No fancy, expensive cameras necessary.
YOUR TRIPOD CAN WORK:
Just as Marci pointed out, the tripod is very important to a professional audition tape. To hold up your iPhone on a tripod, you can purchase an inexpensive iPhone mount, like the one we used: Studio Neat Glif Tripod Mount. If you don’t have one, these little guys are a great option to explore. Here’s another one I just found that looks sturdy and is inexpensive. (this is Marci!)
SOUND IS CRUCIAL:
A directional mic can be hooked into the iPhone via the headphones hole. Theonewe purchased was about $40. This kind of mic cut out the white noise and clearly picked up the actors voice. The difference was very clear: good sound helps pick up all the nuances of an actors performance and gives the tape a more professional feel. A side note on sound: the reader’s voice should not be louder than the actor’s. This tends to happen as the reader stands next to the camera. A directional mic and a mindful reader can help with that. If you still experience some background noise, it can be eliminated in five seconds on iMovie or similar basic programs (YouTube tutorials rock!)
UPDATE: A few of my readers commented that the mic that was suggested (above) is no longer available. I reached out to Tara and asked for any new recommendations. Here’s her response:

The Belkin one we originally suggested is only one we have used repeatedly. I just found some through non-Amazon retailers and eBay (which of course I have no personal experience with and cannot officially recommend):
A friend of mine has a great one called the Tascam iM2 mic for iPhone (http://tascam.com/product/im2/). It is about $80 but if you look around online you can often find them reduced to $30-$40.
Leslie-Anne also added that she recently bought an iPhone 5 and the quality of the sound is comparable to using the directional mic for the iPhone 4 (what we were doing before). Hope this helps!
LIGHTING:
We are lucky that one of our apartments has a spot lit by two windows, which provides great natural light. Find the spots in your home that face windows. Use blinds and curtains to increase or decrease the amount of direct light. Try using the different lamps in your home. Experiment. Much to our surprise, we noticed that a fluorescent kitchen light actually enhanced the look of the natural light. Be resourceful and use your judgement. If you have a dark place or have to shoot at night, Marci’s lighting suggestions in her original post are spot on.
TRANSFERRING FOOTAGE:
To get your video (regardless of its length) from your phone to your computer, connect the two via a USB cable. If you’re on a Mac, open the app Preview. Then click File, Import from iPhone, and all your iPhone files will be listed. Select your video and click Import.
IF YOU NEED TO EDIT:
We recommend stopping after each take so that you can select the take you want and send that one only without having to edit at all. But if you need to edit we learned iMovie quickly and on our own (again, YouTube tutorials!)
COST COMPARISON:
We paid about $60 (in addition to the price of our phones) to get this system working. We’ve seen companies around town charge $25-$100+ per self-tape. So invest in yourself and a couple self-tapes in you’ll be happy you did (and feel extra savvy too)!
Here’s a video sample:
If anyone has any questions, feel free to reach out. We are both on Twitter: @TaraTomicevic and @Leslie_AnneHuff.
Tara Tomicevic is an actress, writer, and producer. She is Croatian born, Italian raised, and Berkeley branded.
Leslie-Anne Huff is an actress, Los Angeles native, and lover of pugs. Credits and more info can be found on her website: http://leslie-annehuff.com
I’d love to hear about any hot tips you’ve discovered while self-taping your auditions. It’s always good to share with the community.

Glad you’re here!

Marci

8 Ways To Survive The Dreaded Waiting Room

By Marci Liroff
You’ve prepared. You’ve rehearsed. You’ve worked with your coach and picked out the perfect outfit to wear on your audition. You’ve even arrived slightly early and found “Doris Day” parking right in front of the casting office. You’re all charged up and ready to go and you turn the corner to find 10 people sitting in the waiting room for the audition. Aargh!
I know exactly how this feels because I have to interview/audition like you do for a job sometimes. When I come to an office to meet a producer or director and I’m all pumped up and have to wait awhile, I get totally deflated.  All my energy and enthusiasm gets sucked out of me. Here are a few things you need to do to protect yourself from the elements and stay in your creative zone to do your best work.

1. Be on time and expect to wait.  Many times, the director/producer will show up late and screw up my meticulously scheduled day. Or we get stuck on a time-sensitive phone call about securing financing for the project. You may have to wait a long, long time and we get behind. Sometimes we get WAY behind and you have to wait an hour.  It’s horrible. It’s important that you do what you need to do to keep yourself from losing your energy and it doesn’t affect your attitude – whatever it is that works for you. I recommend using headphones or earbuds because it drowns out what’s going on in the room. Furthermore, if you have your earbuds in, no one will talk to you! It’s like your own form of privacy.
2. Don’t get caught up in the “scene”. There’s always that one guy/gal who’s bragging about all the auditions they’ve been on lately. It can sometimes make you feel “less than” if you’ve only had a few in the last several months. This is where the earphones come in handy! Don’t get sucked into the weird energy that sometimes exists in the waiting room. Concentrate on your scene and your character.
3. Stand up if you feel like it. For me, sitting too long just drains all my energy and I leave it on the couch or chair. Stand in the hallway (don’t go to far so that we have to come hunting you down when it’s your turn though!). After auditioning for years, you’ll know what works for you in terms of preserving and protecting your energy and state of mind.
4. Be careful not to diss the material – you never know who’s in the waiting room. It could be a friend of the writer or the producer’s wife.  You literally never know. 
5. Try as hard as you can NOT to listen to the other actor’s audition thru the door.  It’ll make you rethink your own choices and destroy your own reading. You’ve worked hard on your audition with lots of preparation. Stick to your choices.
6. Be nice to the casting assistant.  They are my eyes and ears.  If you’re rude or abusive to them, believe me I will hear about it and not be so inclined to bring you back. This would seem like common sense, but you’d be so surprised of the stories I’ve heard from my assistants. Believe me when I tell you that they will, one day, run a studio or direct your next film!
7. Check in with the assistant when you arrive and check to see that you have the correct set of sides.  Better to find out BEFORE you come in the audition room and hopefully you’ll have a few extra minutes to get up to speed if the version of the sides has changed. 
8. Bring comfortable shoes. This one’s for the ladies. My office moves around from project to project and we sometimes get offices that are buried deep into the studio lot and parking is miles away. If you’re in high platform heels, your “dogs are gonna be barking” by the time you get to our office and all you’ll be able to concentrate on are your aching feet! Throw a pair of sneakers or flip flops in your car for the walk.
I’d love to hear what other ways you cope with the waiting room in the comments below. It’d be great to share with each other what works for you!
  
Do you have any questions for me? Feel free to ask them here!
Want more tips and general thoughts on life? Be sure to bookmark my blog and follow me here!
 
We welcome your comments and suggestions.
 
Glad you’re here!
Marci 
 
(you can also read this article on Back Stage Magazine by clicking here)
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