Content Creation: The Actors Greatest Asset
Actors who have been in the industry for a few years know this feeling very well.
You’ve updated your headshots, uploaded slick new reels, your media library is decision maker friendly and you’re fresh off a course or a gig.
Things feel like they are all falling into place.
And then…soon enough…crickets.
An uncomfortable feeling begins to take hold.
A sense of stagnation, uncertainty and a lack of self-worth. You’ve done everything right. Followed all of the rules of engagement with decision makers. However, you stand at the precipice of a void. A loss of momentum has struck and you feel powerless over your career progression. An eternal…what next?!
It goes without saying that this is a feast or famine industry. So occasionally, these discomforts will surface as part of the journey. Although, there is one fairly underutilized tool at your disposal which can help maintain a sense of autonomy over your career, further your skills and deepen your character development.
Allow me to state the obvious. It has never been easier for actors to generate their own content. We have camera, sound, editing, marketing and distribution technology, literally in the palm of our hand.
The only missing ingredient is how the actor goes about doing this. But that’s for another blog and perhaps another course.
For now, let me unpack why an actor should step up and boldly venture into the realm of content creation.
- To further develop your brand. Did you just finish Self Taping School or Creating Compelling Characters and discover a new character? Does that character now exist only in the dusty thumbnail grid of your reel platform? Well you can start to expand on who this character is, what genre they thrive in and what world they inhabit. Taking the time to sit down, make notes on this character and explore these aspects, is the first step towards developing a script, social media channel content or a series.
- To expand your skill set. Admit it, you’ve always wanted to try writing, editing or directing. Content creation forces you off the comfortable perch of daydreaming and thrusts you into concentrated action. The deeper your understanding of these roles, the more valuable you are to future projects. Thereby making you a more valuable actor. I could spend a whole blog discussing how to go about learning each of these skills, but there’s a myriad of free or affordable places to learn these skills online. You can find that information on the corner of Google and Search.
- Influencing agents and CDs. Getting decision makers’ eyes onto this character (or characters) is only going to improve their opinion of you. Exploring this character regularly not only clarifies where they can domicile you, but also where they can be cast in upcoming projects. Showing your agent what you can do is always a good thing. Adding to that, if you’re generating followers and an audience along the way only serves to strengthen your marketability.
There are funding bodies that are willing to finance online projects. Many of them are focusing on diversity within their teams and storytelling. So if you identify in this category you should definitely be generating your own content.
I’ve been in the position over the past 4 years to venture into the industry as an online content creator. What has been incredible to witness, is how supportive, welcoming and inspirational the web series community is.
The series I created began with characters that were mined during my teachings from Self Taping School and then honed with Creating Compelling Characters (both courses from The AuditionTechnique). The show started on stage and later became an award-winning web series, which has been screened at twelve festivals all over the world. As exciting as the nominations and accolades have been, there are greater achievements that have been invaluable.
A further understanding of our industry, the skills I’ve developed and the team I’ve worked with has led to a greater confidence in my job as an actor. Which is something I can’t really put a price on. I implore you to start generating your own content. Starting small is fine. But start you must.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Choose one or more characters from your self-tape library that you feel is a good character to be further developed.
Start by mapping out their world.
Where do they live?
What environments do they inhabit?
Who are their friends?
Love interests or marital status?
Do they own pets?
Introvert or Extrovert?
Write down as much as you can that springs to mind about this character.
Remember, this character is yours, so there is nothing “wrong” in the discoveries you make within your imagination.
Now it’s time to construct a scene or two to further explore this character and their story world. There is a wonderful exercise you can use to approach writing your scenes known as the “PCR method”. Problem. Complication. Resolution.
Problem: Your character has a problem, something they need to be resolved desperately. This can be as minor as ordering a coffee, or something major like a relationship crisis or job interview. If you’re having trouble finding this, it’s good to use something that goes against your character’s comfort zones. An Introvert having to make a speech or go on a date. Or an Alpha character having to meditate or be vulnerable. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination so have fun with it.
Complication: Often referred to as an “obstacle” is something that gets in the way of fixing the said problem. The Introvert loses their voice before the speech or the wrong person shows up on the date. The Alpha’s phone keeps going off during meditation or they can’t find the words to express their feelings. Again these can be minor or major challenges but they must block the character from addressing the problem.
Resolution: This will all depend on how you want this scene to play out. However this problem does or doesn’t overcome its complication, it gets resolved by finding an ending.
If we are indeed looking to have a continuing series, then we want the resolution of these issues to be a reflection on this character so the audience comes back to see more of them.
Now that you have a basic method to approach scenes, you can look to have greater challenges for your character to resolve over the course of large story arcs, or perhaps just sketch to sketch. The beauty of online content is it breaks the standard format of how a series can run. They can be long or short episodes of differing length and they aren’t bound by any commercial restrictions that a studio or network would apply to their content. The opportunity available to you is limitless.
What better time to start mining your characters for further gold.
You may just find that creating content is the most rewarding acting experience yet.
Good journeys fellow creators.
Go forth and create create create.
Author: Cam Faull
Cam Faull is an award-winning content creator, actor, writer and director. He has a career that has spanned almost 30 years working in theatre, television and film. Cam also teaches actors to work on camera and coaches for self-taping.