Pivot to Online Acting?
Many actors are drawn to performing because of their love of people and the thrill of an audience. There is a kinetic creative energy that hovers in a room of artists that can be addictive to those who enjoy the craft. Being in the same room of a beautiful performance changes you. It alters the energetic state of full groups of people– eliciting emotions and reactions both expected and unexpected. These delicate moments are unique, memorable and beautiful.
So How’s That Going on Zoom?
As an in-person school that made the online acting school pivot, we have to admit, we had our concerns about taking these unique in-class experiences and shifting them into the cloud. Will the energy be the same? How will the value be perceived? Will the same amount of learning occur? Can actors achieve the same amount of success in a virtual classroom?
With great relief, we can honestly say that online learning has worked even better than we have hoped.
To move forward with online acting classes and events, it required everyone (teachers/students staff) to focus on several pillars highly important in both acting and in business: QUALITY, SPECIFICITY and GENEROSITY.
Communication has to be clear in online settings and that requires QUALITY. Instructions need to be bulletproof to help those of all backgrounds provide their own at-home tech support to successfully access their sessions with ease and clarity. Foibles in tech can lead to a lack in confidence for those on the sending AND receiving end of material.
This time gave everyone a crash course in how to optimize their virtual capacities and we saw an unprecedented amount of learning in lighting, sound and video quality among students. For years we have heard casting director concerns about self-tape standards and I am certain that these months have allowed many actors to upgrade and correct their previous issues without the stress of looming taping deadlines and everyday life. The ways in which this will serve these performers is limitless.
Clearer quality gives SPECIFICITY a front row seat during this pandemic. It is vital for clear character to character communication and to successfully tell a story within frame. There are things that are lost in person but are under a spotlight when you are face to face with a camera lens.
Every reaction is seen. And every MISSING reaction is seen. Every accidental facial movement is under a microscope. Details are naturally encouraged in this environment and that magnifying glass is helping actors go deeper into their stories than ever before.
They are regularly realizing new levels of specificity in their performances from the constant practice. It is specificity that is the hero of noteworthy performing and this forced focus for both on-camera and stage actors is serving everyone at this time. Actors Connection has personally witnessed how this has accelerated learning for many students.
Rounding out our list is GENEROSITY. When things get tough and EVERYONE is feeling the squeeze, there is a human instinct to hoard and protect what you have at all costs. The entertainment industry decided to handle it differently. Actors Connection and many of our partners and colleagues have used this time to focus on FREE programming. With normal deadlines being halted in their tracks, it allowed our whole industry to hold a space of generosity that so many have craved for years.
This time has led to numerous free learning, training and networking opportunities that have never taken place at this level EVER before. These free programs also allowed us all to get some risk-free practice in online platforms, helping to make our industry’s online pivot to be as comfortable as possible for both staff and students. We are even happy to report that Actors Connection’s FREE at THREE series even led to several actors finding the right representation and signing contracts– even in the middle of a pandemic!
Covid-19 may have closed downs movie sets and long running theatrical performances, but it NEVER closed down the work of an active actor. It set the craft on FIRE. We expect that actors that used this time to practice effective online communication quality, get more specific in their craft approaches, and benefit from the generosity the industry embraced during this time, will soar to more successful experiences as projects open up and more online auditions begin.
When I look back to Spring, I remember the pit in my stomach as everything related to our beloved livelihood shut down. Sitting here now, I recognize these months as an exercise in resilience and creativity and am grateful for the opportunity to totally focus on the love we have for our actors.
And just wait until you see them now. They are going to knock your socks off with their new arsenal of abilities… and this next year of theatre and tv is bound to be pretty freakin’ impressive.