SAG-AFTRA L.A. NextGen Performers Committee Vice-Chair Aubrey Mozino takes center stage and shows off equipment at the Nevada Local "Mobile Filmmaking for Self-Taping and Content Creation" workshop.

As more content is being produced than ever before, self-tapes have become the new audition standard in order to meet quick turnarounds. Actors need to be ready to submit a high-quality audition, anytime and anywhere, and usually very quickly. The easiest way to do that is to use what you already have on you: your smartphone! SAG-AFTRA L.A. NextGen Performers Committee Vice-Chair Aubrey Mozino presented a workshop to the Nevada Local on Sept. 29 that provided members with tips on how to ace your next self-tape:

  1. You don’t need to purchase a DSLR camera in order to have a high-quality audition. Download a professional video app such as FilmicPro ($15 for both iOS and Android) on your smartphone to be able to adjust focus, exposure, resolution, frame rate, image quality, audio levels and white balance settings, like you can with high-end cameras. You can also add metadata and “favorite” your best takes while shooting to make selecting and uploading your auditions even easier.
  2. Do not skimp on sound! Poor audio quality can be the biggest distraction when watching any video content. Unfortunately, internal microphones in most cameras and smartphones are not sufficient for capturing high-quality audio. Invest in a shotgun microphone that’s smartphone- and DSLR-friendly, such as the Saramonic Cammic ($79), which comes with two cords, one that fits any 3.5mm headphone jack and the other for TRS inputs.
  3. You won’t get to be in the room with casting, so it is important to make sure they’re able to see you clearly and in your best light on your self-tape. The Aputure Amaran AL-M9 ($45) is a portable light about the size of a credit card. It has easily adjustable brightness and includes a diffuser to give you a soft, flattering light. No batteries required — it charges via the included USB cord.
  4. You’ll need a sturdy rig to hold your smartphone, microphone and light on top of your tripod. An affordable choice is the Ulanzi U Rig Pro ($15), which has three mounts to hold all your accessories and an adjustable clamp to hold any size phone without needing to remove your case. It should easily attach right on top to any traditional tripod but also has handles, so you can use your phone camera handheld when shooting your own projects.
  5. If you are asked to do a full-body slate and you’re shooting in a small apartment or hotel room, turning your phone vertically to “portrait mode” just for the slate is a hack to fitting more of you in the frame. But be sure to always shoot horizontally, or “landscape mode,” for your audition takes.
  6. Don’t hold your sides when doing self-tapes. While we’re taught to always bring the script with us when auditioning in the room, casting assumes that you’ll be off-book for self-tapes, and seeing sides in-frame is distracting. However, the good news is you can try taping the sides, or a few key moments, to the tripod to steal a glance without making it obvious.
  7. When you’re on a tight deadline to get your tape back into casting, editing right from your phone or tablet can be a lifesaver. Using an app like KineMaster for both iOS and Android ($40 for 1-year subscription) allows you to add nice transitions like fades in/out and tweak audio levels if you realize your reader sounds louder than you do.

Information from this workshop is not intended to imply an endorsement of any individual or company by SAG-AFTRA, and is provided for informational purposes and may not be a suitable substitute for the advice of other industry professionals. You should always use good judgment in these matters and should not act or refrain from acting based solely on information provided from a workshop.

Any mention of products or services does not imply SAG-AFTRA’s endorsement.

Photo: SAG-AFTRA L.A. NextGen Performers Committee Vice-Chair Aubrey Mozino takes center stage and shows off equipment at the Nevada Local
Mobile Filmmaking for Self-Taping and Content Creation workshop.

SAG-AFTRA L.A. NextGen Performers Committee Vice-Chair Aubrey Mozino during her lecture to the group.

From left, Nevada Local President Kim Renee, We Make Movies Chief Executive Officer Sam Mestman and SAG-AFTRA L.A. NextGen Performers Committee Vice-Chair Aubrey Mozino

Members of the Nevada Local with SAG-AFTRA L.A. NextGen Performers Committee Vice-Chair Aubrey Mozino, first row, third from center, and We Make Movies Chief Executive Officer Sam Mestman, far left second row, at "Mobile Filmmaking for Self-Taping and Content Creation" workshop.

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