Social distancing restrictions have complicated nearly every industry. At first glance, however, it can feel like it has totally devastated entertainment. Shows require packed venues, close contact. Plays need an audience, and require cast and crew alike to jam together in the wings between scenes. Filming means spending hours indoors and – unless the plot happens to allow otherwise – completely maskless.
So how do entertainers pursue their craft at a distance? Here are a few ideas for how you can further your career from home.
Seek Out Freelance Opportunities
You may be surprised to learn there are a ton of freelance, work-from-home opportunities online for members of the entertainment industry. For example, there are often calls for actors for hire in voice over, animation, and narration work. You may need to invest in quality recording equipment, but social distancing could open up a whole new world of voice work once you do. There are also tons of opportunities for film and audio editing, soundtracking, and screenwriting from home. Dive into the freelance job market – you might be surprised at how much work is out there.
You may also need to pivot a bit and find a side gig to sustain you during quarantine. There are tons of jobs that still use your skills – you’d be amazed how much acting is required to be a good customer service rep. Picking up work as a tutor or dog walker may not directly impact your career, but they will give you the funds to pursue your own work in your downtime.
Pursue Passion Projects
Do you have a great idea for a screenplay? Have you always wanted to record an EP? Are you dying to start a podcast? Now’s the time for passion projects. Remember, bringing home a paycheck (although certainly important) isn’t the only way to push your career forward. Plus, with hard work and a dash of luck, personal projects have the potential to become revenue generators.
Take podcasting, for example. If you build up a decent audience, you can get advertisers to buy time per episode. Fiction podcasts are also a great opportunity for writers and actors alike to get their work out to an audience, catch producers’ eyes, and build a solid platform for their careers. The payoff can be substantial if you get the right momentum going.
Build Your Knowledge
Consider taking this time to join an online class, virtual workshop, or other learning opportunity where you can gain more knowledge of the field. If you don’t have the funds to pay for a class, you can also look into getting books from your local library. Learning – whether via a class or self-led research – is a vital part of growing as an entertainer. It opens up your mind to other techniques, ideas, and perspectives. These are valuable even if you don’t use them. The simple act of evaluating a tool allows you to zero in on what works and get better over time.
Turn to the Fans
Finally, consider sites like Patreon to bring in extra income during social distancing. You can offer everything from recordings of dramatic readings to custom animations or personalized songs. Connecting with your audience directly – rather than through the lense of a production or studio – means understanding exactly what they want. Is the song about grilled cheese someone paid you $20 to write going to be your next big hit? Probably not. But the act of making it is great practice, and more importantly, the connection strengthens your audience and boosts your brand.
Creative thinking, ingenuity, and nerve are always necessary for entertainers, but these skills are more important than ever during COVID-19. This is an entirely unprecedented moment in the industry. Those who are able to find new ways to craft stories, create art, and share that work with the world will rise up and make their mark. Make the most of this moment – it could be your chance to shine.