Do-it-yourself online auditions: the new face of the acting industry

October 12, 2017
Ever wondered where some of Hollywood’s top acting agencies are finding new, upcoming talent?

“Some agencies have whole floors of employees scouring the internet and viewing YouTube videos, searching the online content for new talent,” said actor and tutor of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA)’s new Diploma of Stage and Screen Performance, Les Chantery.

“Because of technology, actors are no longer expected to just go through the standard live audition process, where they get an agent, secure an audition and walk into a room with a casting director to prove it in two minutes. Yes, these traditional auditions still happen, but it’s changed so much now,” continues Chantery.

“The performing arts industry, and the people behind it, is looking for people who are self-creating their own content, putting it online, where they can be discovered. Actors can create their own on-screen content, put it on YouTube or other platforms and get an audience following. These are the actors who are having a lot of impact at the moment,” said Chantery.

This change is due in no small part to the proliferation of online streaming services. When you have Disney lining up to charge into the streaming services industry in 2019, it’s clear to see that the screen industry is going through massive change. Audiences have a huge and growing range of programs and channels to choose from. And if the shows are delivered differently, why should the audition process be any different?

Part of Chantery’s work in NIDA’s Diploma of Stage and Screen Performance, in its first year, is to look at the technology involved in self-creating new work, from acting to script writing, and also to set up, shoot and edit their own content.

“This emerging generation of actors know how to play around with screen styles to meet the varying demands of the many different genres available today,” said Chantery.

“NIDA’s Diploma of Stage and Screen Performance teaches students the fundamentals of script breakdown and screen acting techniques, but we’re also writing our own scripts. Today’s actor is no longer expected to just be an interpreter of other people’s words, but also to be the creator of their own work. Our course is reflecting what the industry is demanding of young actors now.”

Chantery also says that the acting industry is demanding actors who can stand out in the crowd, who have strong and uncompromising opinions about social issues. “Think Lena Dunham, Jennifer Lawrence and Jack Nicholson. We’re encouraging actors who have a point of view and who can proactively create their own work and generate their own opportunities – that’s the beauty of this Diploma of Stage and Screen Performance. By the time these guys finish, they can put their own work out there to an audience and be seen straight away. We’re encouraging them to turn the volume up on who they are as people and as actors.”

To help the students develop, Chantery begins each session with what he’s termed ‘point of view activities’ where students are encouraged to state their point of view.

“To develop the ability to state their point of view on a topic when there’s 14 other people looking on who may disagree with that opinion helps the students build tolerance and comfort. It isn’t about whether people agree or disagree. Instead, it’s about owning a stance on something, being okay with it, and not compromising.

“This will help actors rise above the generic and the mediocre. A point of view is the difference between indifference and captivating an audience or a talent scout or standing out in an audition. Now if we’re going to captivate an audience’s interest, we need to ensure that a student’s work and product isn’t getting confused with anything else.”

Applications for the 2018 intake of the Diploma of Stage and Screen Performance have been extended to 29 October. Visit https://apply.nida.edu.au/diploma for more information and to apply.

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