Updated: May 13, 2020
An insightful guide for actors in Hollywood to get through the Corona Virus crisis.
(Los Angeles, CA) Shaking of hands, parties, going to the gym, the movie theaters and even enjoying a meal at your favorite restaurant have all ceased at the hand of one word and one number... COVID-19.
It was reported that it began in Wuhan, China then migrated its way to every major country in the world. People described the symptoms as difficulty breathing, loss of smell, loss of taste and other flu like symptoms. Some have even have stated that it was the flu times ten. It sent the world into a frenzy! And what’s the first thing that people do? Hoard toilet paper, hand sanitizer, Lysol, rubbing alcohol, vitamins, medical gloves, medical masks and anything else that people thought would defend them from this new strand of virus a.k.a. “The Corona Virus.“
As a professional actor and filmmaker within the film and tv business, I felt the aftermath of this new epidemic. All production studios halted, auditions slowed down and most of my own production’s had to stop.
So what is an artist to do in such a crisis? Here’s a list of what a smart television and film performer would do:
1. Stay Physically Active
Yes, we all know that we have been given a “stay at home” order and just the thought of being physically active in your studio boggles your mind, however the last thing you want to do is put on extra weight and not look like your headshots. This is where home workouts come into play. Searching YouTube for digital personal trainers giving out free classes and maybe even surfing Amazon for some cool fitness equipment to buy. And if all else fails, go outside (Yes outside) to walk or jog around the block. Even finding a big open field where there are less people around to do your cardio exercises. Remember! Stay at least 6-feet apart. And you know what goes well with exercise? Dieting! Eat according to body goals.
2. Build Your Online Presence
Let‘s face it! We live in a digital world where social media is king and many opportunities are going to social media ”influencers.” So you should be posting content related to your brand at least 2 - 4 times a week and don‘t forget those hashtags! Casting directors, producers and directors love to know that their potential talent has a large following to attract more “eyeballs” to their next project. Don't forget that this is a business first and the studios have to bet on people who will get them the maximum return on their dollar. I also suggest running ads on some of your previous content.
You should treat your account like a magazine where it is focused on a specific niche or theme. You will get better results in follows, engagement and new fans! And when it's time to hit that promote button on your account it won't be as hard targeting a specific market that will flock to your content. And don’t you think about buying followers! You want organic reach. Real people who will look forward to your content, will actively engage with your posts and even share it. Now don’t get so caught up in social media that you forget about your personal website. If you don’t have one, get one. There are plenty of hosting sites like WIX that has made it simple and affordable to design a website. A personal website is still a marvelous marketing tool.
3. Establish New Contacts
Looking for an agent, manager, director, casting director or just new opportunities? Well, guess what? Most of those people are free with a little more time on their hands than usual to check emails and take calls. Get on LinkedIn, use your IMDbPro account, use good, ‘ol Instagram and Facebook to find an influential figure within your industry to introduce yourself to. Be professional, be courteous, have your materials ready and most of all look for how you can be of service instead of what you can take. You know what they say... “Your network will determine your net worth.“
4. Check Up on People
You can't forget all of the people who helped you to get where you are at this point. We are in the middle of a world crisis and the last thing your conscience needs is to feel guilty for knowing someone who was close to you became sick or even worse, died before you had the chance to reach out to them. Send that text, an e-mail or better yet, pick up that phone and let them know that you‘re genuinely thinking about them and that you care about them. These people can be the same people who will come to your aid when you may be in need or even better, lookout for you when an opportunity comes along that you may fit. You never know who holds the key to the door of your next opportunity.
5. Participate in “Challenges“
Earlier we spoke about building your online presence and taking on social media challenges are a great way to do it especially if your post goes “viral.” Not to mention a lot of the challenges are fun! Another popular challenge that has been going around is the monologue challenge that major casting directors and mainstream actors host. Use that opportunity to flex your skills and get in front of key players.
The Don’t Rush challenge took the world by force!
6. Practice, Practice, Practice!!
The show will eventually go on. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow and maybe not until next year, but it will go on and you don’t want to be spending time ”dusting rust” off yourself while trying to get back out there. Opportunity waits for no one so stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. Practice one monologue a week. Comedic and Dramatic. Do improv exercises. Study your favorite actors and how they got to be where you ultimately would like to be. Read books pertaining to what your focus is. Write that treatment or screenplay that has been stuck in your head. Update your resume and online casting sites. Practice some stage combat techniques, if that’s up your alley, but whatever you do don’t be unprepared.
7. Start a New Business
As an emerging performer you want to have as much time to yourself to focus on your main objective: Booking! One thing that stands in the way of that is clocking into a clock that is not industry related so that you can keep a roof over your head. That stimulus check won’t last forever and employment opportunities right now are zero to none. So what better way than to work for Y-O-U. The internet is steaming with opportunities for entrepreneurship. You can even make thousands of dollars a month making YouTube videos for just talking about the things you‘re passionate about. You have some time and you have some energy. Look for a in-house ”filler gig“ so when those audition floodgates open the only person you won’t mind taking direction from is a Hollywood director.
8. Save Money
The bright side is that just about every store except the essentials are closed so the only thing you should be spending money on is food, bills and maybe some occasional online shopping. But if you're not an essential and you don't have thousands or millions of dollars in the bank at your disposal, then you might want to tighten up on your budget. Your friends and loved ones may not be in the position to give you a loan as they might be in a bind themselves and the government's stimulus check is barely enough to cover rent especially if you live in or around Hollywood. Some of the best ways to counteract the restricted cash flow is to take on an essential job. Risky and humbling, but there are a few essential gigs still hiring. You can also file for unemployment even as hard as it is to get through right now. They are throwing an extra $600 a week on top of what you've been approved for. If you hold a LLC, apply for the SBA Loan. Be careful though because they will check your credit. Even Facebook is giving out grants to small business owners. You can also make arrangements with some of your bill collectors. It's hard to believe that some of them have a heart, but a lot of companies are delaying penalties and granting extensions. The city of California cannot evict anyone at this time so if your property manager wants to harass you, you tell them to back off and take an arrangement to the chest!
The joy of waking up when you want. You see there is always beauty in the ashes. Maybe prior to this stay at home order you were running around town like a chicken with it‘s head cut off while trying to accomplish a million tasks at the same time. Well, my friend, if you’re not an essential worker, you are given permission to take a break. Disintegrate those bags from underneath your eyes, give those muscles and joints some relief, kick back and rejuvenate because I don’t care what anyone says! You cannot perform at your best without sufficient rest. All that “I‘ll sleep when I’m dead” is pure nonsense. Get your rest so when you get that call to go back to work, your mind, body and spirit will thank you for it.
I want to personally give a special shoutout to essential workers, medical staff and to all the lovely people who served during this epidemic. If no one has thanked you for your diligence, I am!
To my wonderful readers, let me know in the comments if you agree with this guide and if there were some other key notes that you feel could be of help to performers in the business of show.
About the author:
Jordan Cann is a professional actor, filmmaker and martial artists who holds a degree in Film Science from the Los Angeles film school. He's been actively working in the Hollywood scene since 2009. He has been on both ends of the spectrum: Producing, writing, editing and directing behind the camera and performing in front of the camera. He's worked with many major music acts as a dancer and flexed his acting skills on primetime television shows and movies. When he's not doing that he runs J&S Film Productions LLC an independent film company producing short films, music videos and feature films. He can be reached through his social media or you can send him a personal email to: firstname.lastname@example.org