How film and commercial actors are auditioning and shooting at home during COVID-19

The TV and movie business has been shut down since the pandemic hit in mid-March. The industry is trying to adjust. Disney recently announced that it’s restructuring and will focus on streaming. People are still hesitant to go out to the movies. The theater chain Regal says it’s closing more than 500  theaters. 

Production is also way down. That means fewer roles for actors. 

KCRW talks about the new landscape with an agent and a casting director.

Stuart K. Robinson, CEO of the talent agency Brady, Brannon & Rich, says, “In the commercial world, it started out with all self tapes. Then we as agents … in some cases had to produce some tutorials … how to light yourself, how to send the files. … Then there was a brief period where they tried to open up the live auditions for a while, but it didn’t last very long.”

He adds that actors had to shoot commercial spots at home, but now they’re increasingly traveling to sets to shoot. 

Risa Bramon Garcia is a casting director and runs The BGB Studio. She says she’s on Zoom all the time. “We’ve got 30 classes every week on Zoom. And so we have become pretty sophisticated in how to do this, and how we’re seeing really deep, intimate connections among actors, which I’m bringing them into the audition platform.”

She notes some positive changes: “Producers and studio executives and directors are actually enjoying the fact that they can work with actors virtually. So the director could be in Morocco, the producer could be in LA, the actor could be in New York. And they could all work together to direct actors in auditions, even more easily than they could before COVID, which is kind of exciting.”

Robinson suggests some of these changes will be permanent. “Now that we’re getting a handle on the technology, I think that there’s going to be a lot more use of Zoom and self tapes and things like that. I also think the actors are getting better at lighting themselves, and getting the right equipment, and dedicating a space in their home where they can audition.”

— Written by Amy Ta, produced by Angie Perrin