What to Do With Your Free Time in Quarantine, According to a Casting Director

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You’ve done the 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Your closets are organized and pristine. You’ve decluttered your home and donated the things you haven’t worn in years. Now what? At this point, I think we’ve all realized that we’re in this for the long haul. As actors and filmmakers, what does this mean for us? How can we stay creative and productive while working from home? Here’s a primer I’ve put together that will help you keep your mojo and your sanity.

Take care of yourself.
First and foremost, we must be taking care of ourselves and of those we love. Our mental and physical health is the most important thing right now. What we’re dealing with is unprecedented. I’m not the expert here, and don’t pretend to be, but it’s OK if you don’t know what to do and if you feel lost. Please reach out to mental health professionals if you are finding the day-to-day more difficult than usual. 

Reconnect with yourself.
It’s a great time to practice mindfulness and self-reflection. I found a great app called Calm where you can find guided meditations and sleep meditations. I have never meditated before, and it’s really helping. It’s also a good time to examine your life. Is this what you want to be doing coming out of the lock down? Now you have the gift of time on your hands to fully explore this. It’s the perfect time to journal. Get your feelings and thoughts down on paper so you don’t have to wrestle with them when you’re trying to sleep.

Give yourself the permission to hit the pause button.
As artists, we are told that we must be pursuing our craft at all times. It is hard to get out of that mindset and just sit with ourselves and do nothing. At this point, we’re rewriting the playbook every day. Be kind to yourself.

Learn a new scene every day.
Even without a global pandemic, I suggest this to actors to keep their minds stimulated and growing. There are plenty of free resources online to find good scenes.

Take online classes in your field.
Several universities are offering free classes. Simply Google “free university classes” and you will find an abundance of them. Be bold and jump into an area you’ve always wanted to study. The SAG-AFTRA Foundation is also hosting free seminars from industry experts. And better yet, Backstage has daily digital on-camera programming with casting directors, talent agents, acting coaches, and more as part of The Slate.

I’ve never been a person who gets that amazing endorphin rush from exercising, but I’m now finding it crucial to work out every day. Even long walks (while wearing a mask and maintaining social-distance guidelines from others) are a life-saver.

Make online dates with friends and family.
Isolation has brought out the social butterfly in me. I’m making Zoom dates with friends and family. Having virtual “cocktails” with groups of people is keeping me connected in a new way. It certainly doesn’t take the place of the real thing, but I’m so grateful we have such great technology.

Unplug for awhile.
This one is key for me. I’m a news junkie, and at the end of the day I find my head about to explode from the horrible global news. I’ve made it a habit to cut down on my news stories and to unplug from everything at 6 p.m.

Read a book.
It is great to have so much time to read. Novels, non-fiction, and self-help books are stacking up in my Kindle. Right now, I love being transported to another time and place.

Catch up on your shows.
With the immense amount of content from streaming platforms, we’ve never had a better time to consume a variety of TV shows and movies. Study up on what’s out there!

Revisit an old hobby, or pick up a new one!
I started playing the piano again. It’s been sitting in my dining room collecting dust for years. It’s amazing how the muscle memory of my brain remembered songs that I played when I was a child. I’ve also taken a deep dive into adult coloring books and I’m drawing mandalas. My friends are doing jigsaw puzzles.

Find time to volunteer.
At this point, giving your time and energy to those in need will help you mentally. Some ideas are making masks and reaching out to elders in assisted living through video.

What are some of the things you’ve been doing to keep yourself creative, healthy, and sane?

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Marci Liroff
Known for her work in film and television, producer, casting director, and intimacy coordinator Marci Liroff has worked with some of the most successful directors in the world. Liroff is also an acting coach, and her three-night Audition Bootcamp has empowered actors to view the audition process in a new light.
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