One year on, it’s hard to remember life before COVID-19. The industry has changed so much in the past 12 months. But luckily, as lockdown continues, projects are still being greenlit. Many television productions are back to work with new stringent COVID-19 guidelines. During the summer, drive-in cinemas and even opera popped up around the U.K., offering people a chance to relish in the old-school cinema experience from the comfort of their own car (or bicycle), and offering actors and musicians a welcome opportunity to work again. Auditions continue, only this time from the comfort of our own homes via self-tape or Zoom.
Recently, hundreds of lockdown projects have been made in the industry with everything from short films with actors roping in their friends and directors on Zoom, to very elaborate productions liked “Staged” which flaunted a surreal A-list cast from U.K.’s darlings Dame Judi Dench, David Tennant, and Michael Sheen to Samuel L. Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg. It’s even been heavenly for writers who are used to sitting in their living room tapping away on their latest script because now they have more time than ever to write uninterrupted.
The reality is that you can both move forward with productions and you can create one-off’s specifically while in lockdown. Actors shouldn’t wait for someone else to help them get work. You can write your own parts and you can build your own masterpiece using resources at your disposal and within your current network. And everything starts with just one seed. An idea.
While the mind field of COVID-19 continues, why not pick up that project that you’ve had gathering dust and use this downtime to move it forward. Here’s how.
1. Take stock of where your project is at.
Confirm if you still have the right people in your team and attached as cast. Are you at the pre-production phase where you’re scoping out venues where you can film safely and need to get a COVID-19 approved producer onboard? Or are you just floating an idea around between industry friends? If people are no longer available, write down a list of roles you need to fill so your brain can start thinking about how to fill in those blanks.
2. You can plan for anything, but you can’t do everything.
Every week pick one thing you’ll work on for your project. Just one. Everything starts with small changes. You build a house by adding one brick at a time. Don’t overload yourself.
3. Think about clever ways to use modern technology.
Zoom is your best friend. Why not arrange a table read online to listen to your script out loud. Or perhaps you need to do a rehearsal? Check-in with everyone via an online scheduler like Doodle, and then arrange a rehearsal when the actors are free.
4. Be flexible with said team.
They also might be home-schooling or juggling other jobs. You need to be mindful that not everyone can work with you in the middle of the day. Maybe your weekly production meetings could be at 7 p.m. when the dinner run is finished and little kids are in bed.
5. Consider your social media presence now.
So many productions don’t start on social media until after the project is made and ready for release. This is too late. If your project is at a good stage and you know it’s happening, this is the perfect time to be setting up the social media pages for your project. Perhaps you could be adding images on an Instagram page that shares the journey so they’ll be visible later when you’ve grown your following. If you’re making a short or feature, could you build a Facebook fan page so that by the time the film is released, you already have an audience to share the news with?
6. Think ahead.
COVID-19 will be ending one day, even if it’s guaranteed to be a few more years of all of us learning to navigate the new world order as such. But right now, time is on your side. Are there funding bodies you can be applying to while in downtime? Are there competitions worth submitting your project to? Are there organizations that offer mentoring schemes that would suit you in your additional role of producer, director, or writer?
7. Write down a list of people who are perfect to help you move your current project forward and contact them.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Do they want to be involved with your project too? Chances are, there are lots of people out there who are hungry for work right now. If you’re passionate about this project, sharing that passion helps others to believe in it too.
8. And lastly (or perhaps first) write your goals down and then set out a timeline for when you want this project completed.
If you set realistic goals, you’re going to be 90% more likely to finish said project. And you can also empower everyone else involved in it to stick to the deadlines you’ve set.
Magic happens when you begin to bravely walk down the path of self-creating. It’s not just about the auditions you get sent to by your agent or the casting director workshops you attend. It’s about creating your own projects for people to see so you can highlight why you should be called into the room. This downtime is a welcome opportunity to do just that. If you can’t go to auditions in person, now is the time to use those free hours to make your own magic and move your own production forward (or to create it).
Looking for remote work? Backstage has got you covered! Click here for auditions you can do from home!
The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.