So you want to act in a web series but you don’t know how to get started, eh? I had the opportunity to ask actor Drew Lanning, known for his work on Beak A Leg, Leap Year and the 7-Eleven Road Trip Rally, a few questions about his experience with web series acting, including what advice he would offer to those of you looking to break into the biz. Read on to find out what he had to say.
I asked Drew how he got into acting and whether or not it was something that he always wanted to do. He told me, “I’m fundamentally lazy by nature, and the lifestyle of an actor appeals to that side of me. My earliest thought of being an actor was watching Harrison Ford in…pretty much anything, but I never actually performed at all until my senior year of high school (choir!), and never even took an acting class until college.”
Drew fell into web series when web series creator and founder of Happy Little Guillotine (HLG) Films Yuri Baranovsky, who we interviewed earlier this month, wrote him into the second episode of his first web series hit Break A Leg. “I couldn’t do the 5-minute pilot [of Break A Leg] because I was, I don’t know, having a baby or something. Yuri eventually wrote me into episode 2 of that series as Jimmy Scotch, the most beloved Break A Leg character of all time (in my household). We did that series for many, many years. I became popular with the HLG gang because I rarely complain and rarely say ‘no’—two traits that are essential when you’re making a web series in the evenings, on weekends, and for no money.”
I was curious as to whether Drew thought that acting for web series differs from acting for television and film. He told me, “Acting in a web series doesn’t differ from film and television as much as those three differs from, say, theater. If you have a budget (like we did on Leap Year) then it’s definitely more like a movie: You set a schedule for a few weeks or so and bang it all out at once, shooting in the sequence that makes budgetary sense. If you don’t have a budget (like Break A Leg) then you squeeze in shooting whenever you can, working around everyone’s schedule and just doing one episode at a time, as opposed to the entire ‘season’.”
Drew says, “From an actor’s standpoint there isn’t much difference, although your job becomes a little more challenging when you have an entire 130 pages of script to schedule around rather than a single ten-page episode. You definitely need to do your homework before you get to the set.”
Check out Drew in the latest episode of Leap Year below, before we get to my final question.
Finally, I asked Drew what advice he had for actors looking to break into online video. He told me, “In terms of breaking into online video, it’s easier than ever. The best thing to do is probably to just get something started yourself. We’re in a time now where a few people with an idea and some drive can make a video that can easily be seen by exponentially more people than you can reach in your average community theater (although the experience is, of course, vastly different). While you wait around for an audition and then wait around to be cast, you can get a project going yourself. If it’s great then you may get noticed, or at the very least get the experience and knowledge. And if it’s awful then the likelihood is that nobody saw it anyway.”
Are you looking to break into web series acting or are you already in the field? Feel free to share your experience with us in the comments below.
Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times. Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.