People go to acting school for a number of reasons beyond that which is obvious. Participating in acting classes instils self-confidence, improves communication skills, and relieves stress. It also provides a fun, stimulating learning environment where one can make new friends.
However, choosing to enrol in a screen acting school is a totally different ballgame.
Apart from asking about each prospective school’s course overview, curriculum, programme duration and fee structure, there are other important points that need to be considered. This is why it makes sense to ask yourself the five following questions first, when choosing the best screen acting school for you:
1. What do you expect to learn?
Ask yourself what you want or need to learn in terms of technique and skills. Evaluate your career goals as they should align with the course you are considering as well as the duration of the programme.
If you are seriously gifted and have had a lot of practice and perhaps even some basic training, you need to consider these factors as well. Do you need to enrol in a class or will private tutoring work better for you?
2. Do the school credentials check out?
Enrolling at a screen acting school is an important decision that will assist in shaping the type of actor you become.
You will need to invest time and money in your studies. You may even need to ‘rearrange’ your life in order to do it. You may need to find a new job, make transportation arrangements, or move to a different neighbourhood or city just to be closer to the school of your choosing.
Therefore, it makes sense to check on the school’s accreditation status as well as its reputation.
How long has the school been in business? Has it produced successful graduates? Does it have a current website which provides most if not all of the information you need? Are there reviews or testimonials available? Are the tutors they employ successful in their field of expertise?
3. Are you going to be taught or directed?
Screen acting is a collaborative process. This is why it is so important to learn what direction is all about and what is expected from each actor who is being directed.
You are not an empty vessel that needs to be wound a certain way in order to act. A good acting school can effectively teach about the techniques and skills required to become a good performer. However, an excellent school will produce performers and artists who take away lessons from it which they can successfully translate and implement on their own.
4. Will you be acting in every class you take?
Check to see if every acting class you will be enrolled in would give you opportunities to learn hands-on, every time.
Get an idea of the class size; the smaller, the better. If there are too many students in one class, it essentially means there will be less time for you to practise what you are learning as well as receiving crucial feedback from your tutor.
Mastering the concepts and theories behind screen acting is fundamental; however, being able to apply them or test them personally is even more important. Remember, you’re working towards delivering your best performance in front of the camera and the best way to learn how is through hands on experience.
Be sure to also ask whether or not you will have access to your acting footage. If you do, how soon will you get it for each class?
While there is really nothing you can do for any of your ‘acting inefficiencies’ captured on film, evaluating your recent output in the light of new learning will help you assess whether or not you are improving. It can also help validate feedback from your fellow students and tutors, and help you objectively see whether or not your work is starting to reflect on what you’re learning.
5. What can you reasonably expect from your tutors?
Even if you already have a fair idea of who the tutors will be, you need to get some reassurance that the screen acting course you will be taking will contribute to your growth as an actor. This is why it is important to have tutors who have grown in the industry, are experts in their field of specialization, and continue to be a part of the film industry.
If you have access to get feedback on the classes you will be taking from current or past students, do so and if not, read the testimonials or online reviews. Will you be regularly receiving personal, practical feedback? Can you reasonably expect to broaden your acting horizons and deepen your experience? Are the teachers straightforward in providing constructive criticism?
You may say you are prepared to be stretched, moulded, challenged, and broken even. However, if the school, class and tutors won’t push you to grow and be better at what you do, then you’ll comfortably remain the same.
Learn from the best in the industry
In order to make the most of your screen acting school experience, you need to ensure you are enrolling in an institution that will provide you with an environment that will explore your depths as an actor. You also need to be exposed to industry experts who can identify your potential and bring out the best in you.
At Screenwise, we understand that studying in screen acting school is a serious business, so you can count on us to help you achieve your acting career goals.