To Study or not to Study

I don’t think there’s an answer anyone else can give you to this question but your own gut feeling. I know both types of people, the ones who stand by studying and the ones who don’t. For me, I knew nothing about the industry so I chose to study. I think as a child we can build our imagination really well but once we get older, life takes hold and beats that imagination out of us like a bully on the playground.

For me acting school helped me get out of my own head by building characters, finding out different acting techniques and being able to adapt them. This allowed me to figure out which parts of those styles worked for me in a safe environment that encouraged self exploration.

Now I can’t just tell you the good without the bad, I’m a firm believer that you can’t have the good without the bad. Down side for me was I did have some hard ass tutors that pushed me well beyond my limits and I was emotionally drained after those days. I had one tutor that told me she couldn’t teach me how to act and yet she was teaching in an acting school. She questioned and probed scenes I had built and even though I hated it at the time,(because she went about it in such a harsh way) I thank her now. She definitely couldn’t teach me to act, but she did teach me to push and to question all that I do and showed me that this industry can be full of the harshest critics.

The good tutors I’ve had were all very supportive, they pushed my emotional limits to points I didn’t think I could achieve and there were some days I broke down in scenes and created beautiful work. The most important part of those classes though was that they helped me come out of those states of emotion and taught me how to do it on my own.

We learned acting is all about the “objectives” or “wants”. Different styles use different words but they all mean the same thing you have to ask yourself “what do I want from this other person?”. That’s the goal as an actor, fight to get what you want in every scene, as the character would fight. Some you win, some you lose, and some neither of you get your way and the scene just becomes magic. See that human struggle is what we all crave.
I think for me it was a great choice to attend drama school and learn not only how to build characters on my own but I learned the rules of film making and I know how to break them now (when needed) or how to push them to new heights. I also know how to work with others who use different techniques to myself.

At the end of the day it is that pursuit of bringing life to a character. Which we all have our own way, as actors. So, learning to work with other actors who need more time or emotional support to get into a scene is a very important tool to have because you’re trying to work with them, if you aren’t fighting for what you want in a scene and they aren’t either, it just won’t work. You both need to take what you want as characters from the scene.

If it wasn’t for drama school I wouldn’t have so many skills under my belt. I had the opportunity to learn how to dub films or ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement), I wrote my own scripts giving me the chance to really see my own thoughts and characters come to life and to really understand script structure.

I believe I made a great choice for myself and my acting career by choosing to study first. What ever choice you make, make sure it’s the right one for you and your career as well.

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