Actors and Casting Embrace Their New Norm

By Supreet Thiara

The pandemic has changed our world in ways we couldn’t have imagined. It has changed the way we work, the way we socialize with others, the way we shop. Needless to say, a lot of things are happening differently now and the Film & TV industry is no different. Along with everything else that has adapted to our new way of life, the Film & TV industry is undergoing its own changes. Actors are finding new ways of learning, developing, and practicing their craft and casting is finding the beauty in Zoom auditions. Amongst the challenges that the pandemic has brought, the industry is finding its way back to work. 

Acting Workshops & Classes

As I have attended a few online acting workshops since the start of this pandemic, it has been crazy to see how the experience is so different, yet the same. Of course being on zoom is different, but the sense of community, love for the art, and the ability to bring a scene to life is no different. You would expect some technological difficulties to occur, but luckily none of that came in the way during my experience.

Earlier this year, I stumbled upon Margie Haber’s book, How To Get The Part Without Falling Apart, and absolutely loved her teaching style. I ended up doing more research on her website and came across a free acting workshop and another online acting class called Creating Character, both of which I took advantage of. Although the online class that I took used pre-recorded videos, her acting studio has been offering Zoom classes as well. 

The free workshop was wonderful! She taught us about her Haber Phrase Technique, which is used to help actors shift away from memorizing their scene for on the spot cold reads or even for auditions that actors may not have enough time to prepare for. Then, she gave opportunities to two actors to perform a monologue using this technique. Everything went really smoothly throughout the workshop, and the actors did a great job in using their zoom set-up to bring the piece to life. Zoom worked well for delivering monologues, but if a scene were to have taken place, I’d imagine more technical challenges.

Now, Zoom classes will never beat the experience of an in-person class or workshop, but it is a great alternative for the time being. The emotional journey of the character comes through, but the energy of the audience as we are taken on that journey lacks. Sitting in class and watching your peers perform their scene is like going to the theater where you and the rest of the audience are present and ready for the story to unfold. So when you can’t really feel the presence of the community around you, the experience is different. 

Auditions

The way auditions are happening has also changed. The pandemic has increased the amount of self-taped auditions and the idea of having to be in the Los Angeles area to be in the business is changing. Zoom has given casting directors a new way of screening actors for roles without the bounds of the actor’s ability to commute to an on-site audition. It has its pros and cons, but from what I have heard, it is amazing to see how much larger the pool of actors has become as a result. 

Set Life

Even set life is different now. Actors and crew members are having to take extra precautions while they are on set and filming scenes are much different. For example, as Riverdale has returned to filming their next season, actors KJ Apa and Camila Mendes had a whole one minute mouthwash before filming an intimate scene. Similarly, as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is back on air, crew members are wearing masks and there is no live audience involved. All in all, the precautions are being taken and the industry is adapting to the changes that the pandemic has brought.

Even though the pandemic has restricted the way we live our lives in so many ways, I think it has also allowed us to become more creative in pushing through the obstacles along the way. The entertainment industry is a great example. The industry is so reliant on actors, casting, and crew members being present in-person to bring a project to life, yet they have still managed to make it work. It’s truly incredible. Things are being done differently and are forcing the industry to adapt, but the work is still being done. The pandemic has brought on these new challenges, but the industry has found ways to make the most of it. And in the end, the art is still being made.


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