At the latter end of what has been a long and largely happy acting career, I started limiting the kind of roles I was going for early last year due to health and age concerns.
Even without the tours and the more physical parts I used to be known for, I was getting enough work to keep me busy. Then Covid-19 entered the picture.
I decided to quarantine long before I received my shielding letter, and having had a lot of time to reflect while doing so, I am not hugely confident about changing that decision for quite some time.
I do want to continue acting and my question may make you laugh, but it is quite a serious one for me. As so many other people have found they can work from home effectively, do you think ‘acting from home’ is a viable career option for me until I finally retire?
I’m still not sure I, or anyone else, can predict exactly what the future of the industry will look like. One interesting thing I have learned from several actors is that they now have ‘day jobs’ in areas such as finance, education and customer services, which would previously have involved them travelling to a physical and sometimes remote workspace – with obvious challenges around getting time off and travelling to audition – but which they are now doing from home.
While this may not be the case for everyone (and these remote jobs probably don’t pay any more than the older standbys such as bar work or waiting tables) the fact that they now exist is a reminder that in every industry, just because something has never been done a certain way before, it doesn’t mean it won’t be done that way in the future.
We might not be at the stage where ‘acting from home’ will become the norm, but we have already seen examples of creative work that suggest it might become more of a possibility even post-lockdown. I know of several actors over the past few months who, having secured a casting, have had filming equipment – including cameras, lights and green screens – delivered to their homes. They were then talked through how to capture their own performance by a remote director or technician. If you already have decent home equipment and can use it effectively, this is worth flagging on your casting profile (with a good clip to prove it) as it might get you considered for whatever ‘acting from home’ opportunities are out there.
I always avoid encouraging actors to spend money they don’t have on hi-tech equipment, but if this is an area you want to invest in, make sure to seek recommendations from fellow actors before opening your wallet. The most expensive kit isn’t always the best choice.
This also applies to kit and training in that other area of ‘at home’ acting work, which predates the current crisis by many years: voiceover and audio. Actors who are experienced in this field tell me that it is a competitive market, often involves voicing niche material on mundane topics rather than high-profile bestsellers and games, and that the income, while welcome, is more modest than the dazzling sums promised by certain online and offline crash courses.
Again, seek recommendations and advice before you invest. The willingness of actors to support others and ‘make things work’ is something that hasn’t been changed by lockdown. If anything, it is now stronger than ever.