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BY Experience Founders On Capturing Actors’ Live Performances

BY Experience Founders On Capturing Actors’ Live Performances
Photo Source: Jenny Anderson

Julie and Robert Borchard-Young run BY Experience, which broadcasts live events around the world. Julie and Robert share their vision for the company, and how they work with actors throughout the process.


How did you decide to start BY Experience?
We worked together on our first-ever global broadcast of David Bowie performing his new album at the time, “Reality,” live in sequence to movie theater audiences around the world. We had such a great experience and believed that there were other music events that could benefit from a cinema broadcast.  We eventually broadened our idea to include other events beyond music, and thus launched our own company to focus 100 percent on live and nearly-live cinema event distribution.

What are some ways you work with the actors when you're preparing to capture an event?
We carefully pick a team to film the shows. Our directors work very closely with actors and performers. We tell them that the actors are playing to the house—and  we will capture this. Our goal is not to get in the way of the play or of the performance. We try to be invisible. Following “The Importance of Being Earnest,” the actors told us that they could not see the cameras, which made it easier for them to treat the HD capture as business as usual.

How can actors help make the filmed event be the best experience possible for the audience?
Do their best performance for the audience in the house, and forget we are filming.

What were some of the initial hesitations of performers about having their performances filmed?
Some actors are hesitant to participate at first, as they might perceive they have had a "bad night." Other actors have expressed interest, but not for a full live presentation; they prefer to capture the program and have it edited for a future broadcast. Some just believe that the performance should only be for the people in the theater.

When we started working with the National and they approached Helen Mirren to take the lead as their first broadcast performance, she agreed and that was a huge breakthrough—all of the other actors in “Phedre” were supportive. This set the tone for additional U.K. artists to embrace their performances as part of National Theatre Live.

What positive feedback have you gotten from actors about the experience of being filmed?
Actors like the idea of their great performance being appreciated by audiences beyond the immediate theater where they are performing. To be able to be broadcast to audiences around the world increases the actors' excitement about their roles. Actors understand that most people cannot fly to London or New York to see the best opera or theater performance, but audiences can go to their local cinema and enjoy the next best thing to being there in person.

Actors also like the reach and intimacy the broadcast provides. Audiences globally can be part of a shared experience, gathering in movie theaters to experience something special. 

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