What can actors do for their career during the downtime?
by Grace Andrews
With auditions and acting classes coming to a pause during the holidays, actors tend to wonder how they can keep their focus and not fall out of practice in the midst of the vacation — or even just in their downtime. Often times, it can feel like there’s “nothing to do” to better your acting career if things seem idle. Training your acting muscle doesn’t only include breaking down scripts and practicing audition technique. While both of those things are crucial, it’s important to keep in mind there are other forms of training and developing that are also necessary in order to keep your creative knowledge growing.
Books, articles, scripts, plays, newspapers. Reading is a great tool actors can use to expand their imagination and way of thinking. Not only can reading help with comprehending a character’s perspective from the narrative side, but reading is also important for helping actors understand the use of words and why they’re written. This can be crucial when auditioning or preparing for a role simply because the screenwriter chooses specific wording for a reason, just as an author does. Even one of our Pilot Prep industry pros, Shepard Smith from Archetype Management, mentioned to the group of actors in our recent workshop how important reading is for actors! Catapult teacher and coach, Joe Massingill, also stresses how important reading is for actors. Not necessarily from the idea that reading makes an actor a better actor, but more-so, making that actor a better person all around.
This one is pretty obvious, but staying up-to-date on current movies and series is another form of practice that is beneficial for actors. Even if it’s not possible to watch every episode or every movie that has come out this year, at least having a general idea of the genre and plot of what’s recently released is helpful. Say you get an audition for a hit new series but have no idea what the show is about. Or you even get an audition for a film but you’ve never seen any other work from the director. Taking an hour of your time to watch an episode of that series or another film from that director, puts you ahead of the other actors auditioning. Why? You’ve already done some of your research! Not only is the content important to follow, but be on the look out for cinematography, costumes, tone, and even the types of actors they’re casting in these projects. All of these aspects are beneficial when it comes to auditioning. So grab your Aunt Debbie, whip up some delicious popcorn, and enjoy some quality family time while doing your holiday homework!
We take for granted how something as simple as going for a walk can be good for our creative mindset. Putting our phones away and taking some time in nature, can help practice the art of living in the moment. Also, just exchanging stories with your loved ones is helpful for listening and increasing your empathy for what others’ go through. Even though I talk to my mom every day on the phone, while I’m home over the holidays, we always make a point to go to our favorite coffee shop in my hometown for breakfast the first morning I’m back. No phones, no work, just the two of us catching up. It never fails, there’s always some story we forget to tell or fill each other in on while we’re on the phone. So having that quality in-person time over a cup of coffee is so special, even though it’s simple. Then after our coffee, we walk downtown and take a look at what new businesses are moving into old buildings, or even take pictures in front of the murals that are in our town–my personal favorite. Every single time something or someone will catch my mom’s attention, then out of the blue she’ll say “That should be in a movie”. Just goes to show, you never know where inspiration can come from!
So over the holiday break, when you’re trying to figure out ways to keep your acting career productive, try some of these ideas! Even if it doesn’t feel like you’re doing much, you’ll be surprised when that next audition falls into your lap, just how beneficial some of these tips (and your family) were.
Over 35 books were made into movies this year!
More Acting Tips from Erik + the Catapult Crew coming soon.