A 30min nightly livestream: How a Darwin actor is tackling isolation

STREAMING: Darwin's Thomas Midena is attempting to do a 30min livestream each night from his home during the period of isolation.
STREAMING: Darwin's Thomas Midena is attempting to do a 30min livestream each night from his home during the period of isolation.

Isolation can be tough, particularly if your job relies on an audience.

The most creative types rise above, however, finding a way to connect to the masses while lifting spirits as well.

Darwin man Thomas Midena is doing just that with his "Slice of Live" videos.

The freelance filmmaker, actor and drama tutor is attempting to do a half-hour YouTube livestream video every night during his housebound isolation.

And his audience is growing.

"I've always been drawn to the exciting energy of live entertainment, be it theatre, radio, TV or online," Thomas said.

"I love the unpredictability, the feeling of immediacy and the intimate connection between everyone involved.

"Now that we're all pretty much locked in our homes for a bit, I thought now's as good a time as any to give live video a crack.

"So in classic underestimation of the task before me, I committed to streaming live for 30 minutes every single evening."

There are no constraints as to what these live streams can be. I like that people have no idea what they're going to tune in to.

Thomas Midena

His task is an ambitious one, and just over a week into it, Thomas says he's feeling the strain.

"Now I'm paying the price. And reaping the benefits - it's not all bad. In fact it's mostly good; I love the process, it's just challenging," he said.

In order to keep both himself and audiences engaged, Thomas covers a variety of topics, including sketching viewers' dreams, playing obscure computer games, cooking pancakes, completing a workout while gagged, and even streaming a casual stroll down to the beach.

"There are no constraints as to what these live streams can be. I like that people have no idea what they're going to tune in to," he said.

Quiet on set

MR Midena is a one-man band, or production company, as it were. There are no helpers, no crew, no roadies, no catering staff.

It's part of both the magic and the challenge for him.

He pulls no punches in his honest assessment of his chosen form of broadcast: "Live streaming is hard. I've learned that again every day this week."

Thomas said it's logistically and technologically demanding.

"Creating and presenting a stream by myself has been grueling. But I've already learned a lot, and feel a lot more confident in my ability to live stream than I did a week ago," he said.

LIVE: Thomas says working with technology can be a challenge but he enjoys the spontaneity and unpredictability of working live.

LIVE: Thomas says working with technology can be a challenge but he enjoys the spontaneity and unpredictability of working live.

"It's a difficult process because, by the nature of the format, I'm practicing in front of real live viewers.

"So every mistake is public. I can't call cut and try again, like I usually do. You just have to keep going."

He said coping with technology glitches always makes him "die a little inside".

A few evenings ago his microphone played up, despite it working all day in testing.

"So no-one could hear me. But I was Skyping with a friend, and the audience could hear them," he said.

As long as everyone has someone to share their creativity with, I think we're all going to be fine.

Thomas Midena

"So I'm scrambling to try to fix the problem, while I have no voice on my own live stream. I lost control of things entirely."

That video was affectionately posted as: Unmitigated Streaming Disaster.

"The technology that allows live streaming is powerful, but it is complicated, and a small mistake can send things pear-shaped and ruin all your plans," he said.

"But of course that's a part of why it's fun.

"I've certainly grown a deeper appreciation for the art of live streaming."

An entertaining expert

Amid the material of a lighter nature, Thomas has established an online reputation as something of an expert on Google's own computer, the Chromebook.

One of his early videos looking at them has notched up more than half a million views. Subsequently, he has made several more and gained a substantial following.

"People seem to enjoy my unserious blend of factual information and farcical entertainment," he said.

It's not particularly about the views or the number of people watching though, according to Thomas.

"Sharing art is one of the greatest joys in life, both as creator and audience. However, I don't think art needs huge audiences or ravenous fans or sell-out crowds," he said.

"I consider a work that is enjoyed by just two people to be a successful piece of art.

"As long as everyone has someoneto share their creativity with, I think we're all going to be fine."

Amusement seekers

MR Midena said it was a bit too soon to suggest people in isolation were hungrily seeking out new content but that might come.

"We're only a couple weeks into this, and I think we all have a few things at the top of our Netflix watchlists that are understandably taking priority," he said.

"But before long I expect we'll start feeling an encroaching existential dread and actively seek out more fresh, immediate and intimate online content; things that make us feel keenly connected to communities."

This story A 30-minute nightly livestream: How a Darwin actor is tackling isolation first appeared on Good Fruit & Vegetables.