These were some of the many feelings we had upon making the decision to go entirely virtual with our classes back in March. How would online acting lessons work?
Where would be Zooming from?
Is Zooming even a verb?
Would our students make fun of me for trying to seem cool using Zoom as a verb?
What should my background be?
Should I use a virtual one? Or will it make me look like I’m trying to hide something?
If I don’t use a virtual background, should it be a background of my bookshelf?
Or will that look like I’m trying to appear smart?
And does any of this even matter if no students even want to do virtual?!!
Are group acting classes online even possible?
It is surprising how quickly so many of these questions got answered within a manner of days.
I learned that I “zoom” and “zooming” are both fine to use as verbs (or at least no one has corrected me yet).
And virtual backgrounds do not work well as they make my hair look like a hologram.
But most importantly, I realized that many of our students would show up.
And that group acting online classes are indeed possible.
And in fact, these online classes opened up more possibilities that I had even considered.
Here are three huge benefits of the online classes.
Number One: Working with Young Artists From Around the World
In one of my Saturday kids class, we have students from Jamaica, Alaska, South Carolina, New York, and two from Brazil.
For the first time, I had a student who had to deal with bears living in their backyard (this courtesy of our student from Alaska!)
I cannot begin to emphasize how beneficial it is for young artists to meet students from different perspectives and experiences.
So much of growth as an artist is rooted in expanding our concept of the world, and what better way to do that than actually working with others from around the world!
Number Two: Camera Awareness
I’ve noticed that the students are much more aware of themselves in relation to the camera.
In class, students can sometimes be a bit oblivious to what the audience is actually seeing.
But the nice thing about Zoom is that it makes the student always clear about when they are being seen.
Issues of upstaging, looking down, or moving around a lot are vastly reduced when the students are in the online classes.
I know this will greatly help our students- especially ones who do work in front of the camera, and/or are doing self-tapes for auditions.
Number Three: Easier to Work More
It’s not easy for a student in Santa Monica to drive out on a Thursday afternoon to do a coaching session with Jeff or myself.
But IT IS a lot easier for that same student to log-in to their computer on a Thursday afternoon and work with us.
I have seen several students make vast improvements in their work because it is so much easier for them now to connect with us, and get feedback/direction.
In the past, many of our students (and parents) just couldn’t get out to our studio in North Hollywood beyond the weekend classes.
Now we’ve removed so many of the barriers preventing students from getting additional practice on their scripts.
And we are witnessing a massive difference in the quality of work because of it!
I honestly didn’t know what to expect when we started doing the on-line classes six months ago.
For the first twenty four years and six months, the studio has had one primary way of teaching the work.
But COVID forced us to radically rethink what we do.
We had to get creative, and resourceful.
And open ourselves to experiences and possibilities we never previously imagined.
Just a year ago I never would have imagined I’d have two students from completely different hemispheres doing a scene together.
And I never would’ve thought a student in New York could jump onto a thirty minute coaching session with me and make a massive breakthrough!
But it’s been happening.
And I’m so excited to experience all the other possibilities I still can’t imagine going forward!
Here is a link to our classes for kids and teens.