8 tips for having better remote communication with your actors

8 tips for having better remote communication with your actors

The first time I worked with a remote team on a production, it was a mess. Communication was horrible and the project suffered for it. But that's not because of any one person; rather, a whole bunch of factors contributed to this problem. So here are some tips to help you make sure your actors feel heard and understood during their home-based recording sessions or while conducting remote auditions:

1. Provide Clear Instructions. Actors are not mind readers.

When you are working with an actor who is in another state or country, it's important to be as clear as possible when giving instructions. Actors are not mind readers, and if you don't provide them with the information they need to do their job properly, chances are things won't go as planned. 

2. Make yourself available to answer any questions.

There are two main reasons why you should be available to answer questions from your actors. First, it's important that the actor feels comfortable with you and trusts that you will do everything possible to help them achieve their goals as an artist. If they don't feel comfortable asking questions, they won't open up and share their concerns or ideas, which means neither of you will get what you want out of the collaboration. Second, if there aren't any questions being asked—or if they're just ignored—then there's nothing stopping the actor from getting frustrated without understanding why things aren't going well on a project. This can lead to resentment later on!

Don't worry about answering these questions immediately; many times there's no rush at all! Be honest about what parts of your workflow can be changed or worked around easily (or not), but also keep in mind that every situation is different for everyone involved; what might work for one actor may not work for another because their needs might differ based on a plethora of different factors.

3. Expect the Unexpected and Roll With It.

Whether you’re shooting remotely or in a virtual rehearsal, the best way to keep your cool when things go awry is by keeping an open mind and being flexible.

When a tech glitch occurs, don't get frustrated by it. Instead, think about what can be done differently next time so that the issue doesn't repeat itself. If a shoot is going to be done remotely, it's important to expect the unexpected and roll with it. In most cases, you'll never know what may happen while filming. It's best not to get frustrated if things don't go exactly as planned; your actors will be just as confused as you are! Just remember that this might be their first time doing this sort of thing, so cut them some slack. If something goes wrong during an actor's shot or scene, don't take it personally—it could have been any number of things (including a power outage).

4. Assume positive intent when your actors communicate with you and give them the benefit of the doubt as often as possible

When you’re working with an actor, communication is one of the most important things. But when you communicate with someone who isn’t in the same room as you, it can be easy to feel like they aren’t listening or responding. This can lead to frustration and feelings of being ignored. Instead of taking their lack of response personally, assume positive intent and give them the benefit of the doubt as often as possible!

Here are some ways that I've found helpful:

  • If an actor doesn't respond to your messages right away (or at all), don't take it personally. They may have forgotten about your message or needed time to think about how they want to respond before sending back an answer. Don't jump on them if they don't get back within 24 hours—it's not always easy communicating over long distances!
  • If an actor does respond negatively or rudely, try not to assume that it's because they're trying to sabotage your project or make personal attacks against you; maybe something else happened in their life between writing back initially and responding again later on?
  • Remember that remote actors aren't always able to communicate with us face-to-face; therefore, sometimes there will be misunderstandings along the way due simply because we aren't aware of each others' tone or body language while speaking over email or text.

5. A little bit of empathy can go a long way to making everyone's day easier and better.

Empathy is a necessary skill in any relationship, whether it's with your actors or your family. This is especially true when you're working remotely and can't see what's going on with them physically.

Empathy isn't sympathy or pity; it means understanding the feelings of another person, even if they don't feel related to you personally. For example, if someone is really sad because they lost their dog today, it's possible that you've never had a bad experience with dogs in your life and therefore cannot relate to how they feel right now. But if you can put yourself in their shoes for just a moment and imagine losing something important to you, then maybe that will help the other person understand how much this hurts them—and by extension gives them hope that there are people who care from afar!

6. Ask for feedback from your actors

An actor's feedback can help you better understand your actors' needs, and it will help you create a more collaborative relationship with them. When you're auditioning, ask for feedback from the actors to see if they have any thoughts on how to improve the process. You can also ask for feedback from your director, who may have more insight into what makes an actor feel comfortable when connecting remotely.

Whenever there is a rough patch in the casting process, make sure that everyone involved knows about it so that no one gets blindsided by unexpected changes down the road. This is especially important when dealing with budget constraints—if someone has dropped out of an audition or won't be available when another role becomes available, let everyone know as soon as possible so they can find someone else quickly! 

7. Be honest but kind when communicating with your actors

You should always be honest with your actors. But not in a mean way! Be truthful about what you need from them, but also be compassionate about the situation. Actors like to know where they stand, so if something is going to change in their schedule or if there's any uncertainty about what happens next for an actor, let them know right away. If you're having financial or scheduling issues that might affect how much work an actor has available to them, let them know as soon as possible.

8. Don't forget about the human touch

This is the most important point of them all. Actors are people, not robots. They aren’t just another piece of equipment in your production pipeline. This can be easily forgotten when you are used to having everything automated and working remotely with an actor for the first time. The more human touch and personal connection you can give to your actors, the better it will go for everyone involved!

If at all possible, try to have a call instead of relying on emails or other means of communication only. That way it’s easier for both parties to understand each other's situation better. Even if it isn't possible due to time zones, try doing video calls whenever possible so that both sides get more context about each other's facial expressions and body language which can help convey emotions even more clearly through audio alone if needed!


So, there you have it: eight tips for having better remote communication with your actors. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively, which can only mean better results!


Jane Horowitz

Jane Horowitz

Published November 29, 2022

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