NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – Acting is all about connecting and acting teacher Steve Braun has long believed those real connections can’t happen in a virtual setting.
“No, this has to happen in person," he once insisted. "It’s about two humans connecting, listening.”
But after a few weeks of having to abruptly move his entire business online, he has a whole new perspective.
“I’m a believer now that art can happen via Zoom," Braun said. "You can have deep emotional connection. The tools are different now but that through line of the human experience is the same.”
Risa Bramon Garcia agrees. “Even in this medium, on this platform, people can be so present," she told a recent class.
Garcia cofounded the BGB Studio with Braun but also works as a casting director. She says self-taping was a growing trend even before the pandemic hit and this may have sealed the deal.
“Self taping and auditioning will change forever," she said, "based on the intimacy, vulnerability and authenticity that actors are bringing to this Zoom experience."
Despite his own initial hesitance, Braun isn’t surprised by how actors have adapted to this new platform. After all, he says, they’ve done it before, "when theater turned to film and film turned to talkies and talkies to TV."
"There’s so many adjustments that artists make in this industry," Braun explained, "and so here is another one and our community has met it with grace and a creative spirit which has been really exciting.”
But it’s also been a very challenging time for the community, with production halted right in the midst of pilot season. Garcia had just finished casting a pilot that was about to start filming.
“Friday the 13th of March, it all got shut down," she said.
They know many of the artists they work with have lost not just acting jobs but their supplemental jobs as well. Garcia and Braun have a business to run, but this moment they say is bigger than that.
“The focus can’t be business just now. It can’t be economy," Braun said. "It’s more about mental and emotional health right now.”
“For us, the most important thing is that we stay connected with each other," Garcia added, "and that they find ways to be with each other, to affect each other, to work together, to create together until this things over.”
And when it is finally over, Braun won’t be closing his laptop for good. “We will have Zoom classes after this, I’m hoping. It’s 100%," he said.
Great acting is convincing and having seen the quality of work coming from his classes, this one time skeptic is clearly convinced.