Year in Review - Spotlight's Best Advice in 2020
A curated list of the news and advice that you've been finding useful in this unpredictable year.
Oh 2020, what a year you have been. Memorable and not entirely for the right reasons. Sure, some good things happened but in a year of lockdowns and social distancing, it’s no surprise that the most popular advice on Spotlight was all about how you could take care of yourself or make the most of this uncertain situation.
In case you missed any of the articles, podcasts and videos, we’ve put together this handy list of all the year's most popular content.
This year's restrictions on face-to-face meets meant that self-taping became more important than ever. We launched our first digital self-tape service to help remote castings take place and had lots of advice and guidance on hand to help guide performers.
Alongside our podcast episode explaining how to make the best possible self-tape using your smartphone, you’ve also been reading our how to self-tape guide. We complimented this article with some in-depth advice about getting your lighting and sound right, as well as sharing our tips for editing and sending your self-tapes. We hope you’ve found these useful.
Working from Home
With less work happening in-person, it made sense to find out what opportunities there are for using your performing skills whilst you're staying home. Our article about how to record your voice at home is full of technical tidbits for getting started in voice overs and we have a handy guide if you want to go one step further and set up a voice over studio at home.
Returning to Work
The world of acting looks very different so we asked several performers to write about their experience working on a film set, putting on a live theatre show and returning to a TV studio to get an idea of what working during COVID is like. Producer Katy Lipson also spoke to us about how the pandemic has encouraged her to look at a new way of getting theatre to audiences.
We also took a look at what other opportunities there are for performers to showcase their skills. Martin Vaughan CDG shed some light on the opportunities there are for storytelling in the booming world of videogames and we also learnt about corporate acting and role play.
Many of us (Spotlighters included) will have taken some time out from working this year, either planned or otherwise, so Abiola Ogunbiyi's article about returning to work after a career break made for reassuring reading.
Advice from Performers
We were lucky enough to speak to some established performers who were kind enough to share their advice. Shaun Parkes spoke about his role in Steve McQueen's Mangrove and maintaining his 40+ year career in acting. Rachel Shenton gave us the lowdown on winning an Oscar and creating your own work.
We also caught up with David Morrissey, Naomi Ackie, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Daniel Mays, Daniel Monks and Jonah Hauer-King at the Casting Directors' Guild Awards to get their thoughts on working with casting directors as well as sharing the best acting advice they've ever been given.
2020 saw the launch of The Guide to Good Practice with BSL (British Sign Language) in the Arts so we asked Alim Jayda to write about his experience working with BSL to shed some more light on the subject. Deepa Shastri also wrote an informative piece that helped to demystify the role of BSL Consultants and how they can help with performances that involve deaf characters.
Jassa Ahluwalia wrote an insightful piece about why we need to change the way we think about mixed heritage casting and shared his TEDxChandigarh talk for you to watch.
If there's a topic you think we should cover or if you'd like to share your own experience, please do get in touch with us by dropping an email to [email protected].
In October we relaunched Spotlight with a new look and feel. It was a huge piece of work and the result is that the website is easier and quicker to use both on your computer and mobile. We're continuing to make improvements but if you want to see what's changed, visit our profile FAQs for more info.
Speaking of profiles, a lot of you have been using this time to get your profile up-to-date so we shared advice on how to help yourself be found by casting professionals using Spotlight search and tips for the best way to display your credits.
With some classes closing and lessons going remote, our young performers have had a lot to adjust to. Casting Director Verity Naughton kindly shared her tips for keeping young performers creative during times of disruption. And with self-taping became more important than ever so we put together an information page to help guide parents and guardians through the process if you're helping your children to set up their self-tapes. We're glad these articles were helpful to so many of you.
We're also delighted that a number of parents, guardians and young performers signed up to our digital summer school and open house sessions where we invited casting directors, agents and other industry professionals to talk to our members. In case you missed them, we wrote up the highlights of each discussion:
- A casting director, agent, young performer and parent talk about how they all work together
- Casting directors discuss how they go about casting young performers
The Spotlight Sessions
We missed hosting our annual programme of Open House events where members get first-hand insights from industry professionals. But we weren’t going to let the pandemic stand in our way! Taking to Zoom, we organised some exciting sessions for our members to hear from some truly inspiring speakers, giving you the opportunity to get your questions answered.
Here are some of the sessions we’ve written up for anyone who missed them:
- Casting Directors Aisha Bywaters, Lauren Evans and Kelly Valentine Hendry speak about diversity, self-tapes, auditions and how they prefer to be contacted
- An insightful Q&A with Casting Director Louise Kiely and Director Lenny Abrahamson about the phenomenon of Normal People
- Intimacy Coordinators Ita O’Brien and Marci Liroff came together to discuss nudity and intimacy on set with lots of useful advice for performers
- Casting Directors Rich Mento, Nathalie Cheron. Beatrice Kruger and Victor Jenkins gave their expertise on how casting works around the world.
More articles based on the sessions will be coming in the New Year so keep your eyes peeled.
We’d like to send our congratulations once again to this year’s Spotlight Prize winner, Nimshi Kongolo who won Best Screen Actor and scooped the £2000 prize. A round of applause to all of our 2020 nominees who did an incredible job under difficult circumstances. Congratulations also go to Melanie Joyce Ashurst who was awarded our first Nigel Seale bursary to help their professional training. We wish you all the best of luck for the future and can't wait to see what you'll do next.
Podcasts took a bit of a backseat as we got used to working from home without all the kit we're used to having at our fingertips. Nevertheless, our episode chatting to two of our lovely membership support team was this year's most downloaded show. Have a listen to Jamie and Hannah talk about how their team can help support you and the different ways you can make the most of your membership.
Another popular episode was an interview with playwright Ella Hickson and director Natalie Abrahami about how they collaborate on theatre projects. We have more exciting guests lined up for 2021 so stay tuned!
We continue to keep you updated on how we can support you through COVID and sharing resources to help with your mental health and wellbeing during this challenging time. Do get in touch with us at [email protected] if you have any questions for us.
Never have we been happier to see the back of a year so farewell 2020, you won’t be missed. And here’s to 2021, may it be healthier, happier and more successful for one and all.
Sending you our very best wishes, from all of us at Spotlight.