Many people think that acting is easy. That anyone could give it a go. This is actually true: anyone can give it a go and it is easy to be bad at acting.
To be a professional actor requires professional training.
Acting is one of the few professions in the world for which many believe that training isn’t required or can be done on the cheap.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let me put it this way: If you had to have brain surgery and you had the choice between a brain surgeon who had done a professional training or one who had been to a few classes and workshops, who would you choose?
Right, you want the professional guy! Of course you do because he/she is going to be better. They have more knowledge, expertise and techniques under their belt.
Okay, so now imagine a Casting Director who is casting a new BBC programme and they need to get actors who would be right for a particular part. Bear in mind that if they get it wrong, they may not get the next casting job.
They have a choice between someone who has professional Acting School training and one who has done a few acting classes and workshops.
Yes, the outcome is clear. So don’t delude yourself – you need to train professionally and anyone who says otherwise is quite clearly deluded.
So, often I have seen people try to cobble together an ad hoc acting training and fail miserably. The fact is, professional training will lead to better results.
However, training in itself is not enough. I have known actors who have been to the biggest drama schools in the country and do not succeed, and others who went to smaller schools and did succeed. So, why did this happen?
Well, an actor’s success is down to the individual once they get into the industry. The training is there to enable the actor – the rest is then down to their application.
Basically, an actor goes to continuous job interviews. Some they get, some they don’t. The reasons can vary but one thing is certain: the better trained you are and the more optimistic, the better your chances.
Don’t scrimp on your acting training. Get the best you can afford – and if you can’t afford it, save up. It will be worth it in the long run.
If you trained as an accountant, lawyer or brain surgeon you would expect to invest in that training to be the best you can be. The same should be true when you consider training to be a professional actor.
If you just want to do acting as a hobby then a few acting classes here and there is fine and enjoyable. That’s all you need to do. However, if you are serious about becoming a professional actor, then a whole different, more professional, approach is needed.
Are you wondering about how to become an actor? Acting lessons are a crucial starting point. Almost no-one makes it without training and you need to think carefully about the type of training that will help you most. If you don’t do this, you’re making one of the top five biggest mistakes people make when trying to figure out how to become an actor.
- Never rely on talent. What we see as ‘talent’ is the result of hard work and skilful technique. Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep didn’t get to the top of their game by being complacent about their innate abilities. The reality is that our greatest actors have worked on developing their skills and exploring techniques that allow them to produce memorable, moving acting. Luck, innate inability and inspiration from above play little or no part in acting excellence and success.
- Never confuse acting with pretending. Faking it is death to your acting – and your career. The secret of how to become an actor is to understand the difference between natural acting that conveys authentic emotion and forced acting that is about pretence.
- Don’t fool yourself into believing that acting is about becoming your character. You can never be anyone but you – and do you really think you can ‘become’ Joan of Arc, or the Godfather? Acting is about using your own resources and experiences to explore and create a 3D character. It’s not pretending, but it’s not shape-shifting either.
- Shakespeare’s Hamlet famously said ‘the play’s the thing’. The reality of acting is that while the play (or TV or film performance) is the goal, it’s only a part of what an actor does. In fact, acting is a constant learning experience: from acting lessons to learning lines, perfecting accents, auditioning, rehearsing and finding the next role to pay the bills. Don’t let dreams of glory blind you to the never-ending hard graft and intelligent planning ahead that an acting career demands.
- Don’t give up. Acting isn’t a career where you graduate, get a job and everything is rosy. There’ll always be some setbacks and spells of ‘resting’ (unemployment, in other words) until you’re established. Unswerving commitment is a key trait that successful actors all have.
These are things not to do. But there are plenty of proactive things to do when you’re contemplating how to become an actor. Method acting lessons are designed to help you avoid these key mistakes and cultivate the skills you need to do the opposite. Method acting lessons rest on the premise that you can learn the techniques and grow your ability – if you have the commitment and tenacity.
Method actors use techniques and exercises to help them create believable acting that radiates genuine feeling, on cue, every time. This is the goal of acting lessons at Brian Timoney Actors’ Studio, an acting school in London.
The Studio’s acting lessons teach students essential, practical techniques for character creation, rehearsal and performance, as well as auditions. We also help students to plan, manage and launch themselves on an acting career. If you’re looking for an acting school in London, and want to avoid the mistakes that unsuccessful actors make, our Method acting training ticks all the right boxes.
The best actors are those who deliver the most believable and authentic performances. The audience forgets that this is an actor playing the role and is completely convinced by the- character they see before them. This is what real acting is – and it’s much more than just ‘putting on an act’.
How can you become a real actor? The first thing to consider is what acting lessons can give you. It all starts with the training you choose, because no-one today really makes it without classes. Most kinds of acting lessons will help you on the road to an acting career, but you do have options. Choosing your acting lessons carefully is a second step towards creating real acting.
There is one kind of training that is dedicated to helping you do just that. Method acting is the end product of a hundred years of work on refining the actor’s craft. Finding ways to create genuine acting was the life’s work of Lee Strasberg at the Actors’ Studio in New York – and you can use the methods he developed in your own work at an acting school in London.
Step three is to recognise the goal. Real acting is about real emotion. Method acting has been developed to achieve this ultimate goal. Strasberg’s methods centre on techniques and exercises that every actor can cultivate to create the highest quality acting. A Method acting training will teach you to overcome the obstacles to real acting, such as the tension and stage fright that can ruin your performance.
Real acting is the opposite of superficial. Step four is learning how to create your characters from the inside out. Method actors learn how to create three-dimensional characters who can display authentic, persuasive emotion. In acting lessons you will learn memory exercises that will help you to bring your character to life and provide you with techniques to deliver memorable, believable performances on cue, every time.
Most of all, Method acting is about not faking it. The methods of Method acting have been developed over more than seventy years to get past the problem of stagey, forced performances. The audience wants to see the character and feel his or her dilemmas and struggles. They don’t want to see actors pretending to be a character.
The trouble is, the best actor in the world can’t become someone else. You’ll always be you. Your job is to find the resources within yourself, and in your own experience, to bridge that gap. Method acting lessons are not just about producing emotional performances. They will teach you how to use your own resources to produce the right kind of emotion for the role or scene. Real acting is about emotional truthfulness.
There is one acting school in London that specialises in Method acting lessons. The goal of the training at Brian Timoney Actors’ Studio is to give actors practical skills to hone their craft and create the real acting that is at the heart of a successful career.
Auditioning is a craft in itself. Unfortunately, there are many good actors who never see the light of day due to poor audition technique.
The Importance of Rapport
It’s not just about how well you act in the audition room; it’s also about how well liked you are by the people auditioning you.
I had an agent once who said to me;
‘Brian, sometimes it’s whether the auditionees fancy you or not.’
I know it might seem savage, but he did have a valid point.
Let me explain. Someone who auditions well not only has talent but they also have the ability to seduce the audition panel. They know how to get on their right side and make people want to work with them.
This is called building rapport. When you are in rapport with someone, you feel like they are on your wavelength. You like them. The thing is, you can deliberately build rapport with someone through good interview technique. It’s a skill. Something you can develop.
We Like People Like Ourselves
Here is one that you should try out for yourself. You don’t need to go into the audition room either to try this out. You can do this with anyone. It’s called mirroring. Basically, when you are in conversation with someone, start to mirror their body language and vocal tones.
If they cross their legs, you do the same. You wait a second or two after they have done it, then copy them. If they fold their arms, you do the same.
Listen to how they talk. Are they loud and direct or quieter and slower in speech than you? Match your speech with theirs.
I know what you’re thinking: ‘They are going to notice I am doing this.’ Not so. You will be shocked how many people never pick it up. However, their unconscious mind does pick it up and they start to believe you are just like them. We human beings are always on the lookout for people who are similar to us. We like people like ourselves.
Try it out the next time you are out with a friend. You could even tell your friend and practise with each other and see how it feels.
Don’t Say ‘No’
Another useful tip for when you’re in an acting audition is to try to avoid the word ‘No’. When you say no, it is a sort of rejection and brings the conversation to an abrupt halt. If you can, don’t say no and find a way to continue the train of thought.
Obviously, if you have to say no because it’s important in order to be clear, then do so. But practise trying to turn a no into a yes.
Does that sound tricky? Well, here is a short video from a live acting seminar I did on how to not say no in audition. I give you a real example from an audition I did many years ago.
Acting auditions are nerve-racking experiences and any tool you can use to swing the decision your way is worth adopting. Remember: you will be doing the audition panel a favour. They want to like you and give you the part. You will be solving a big problem for them.
The other reason audition panels like to get on with the actors they cast is that you may have to spend a long time working together – and who wants to work with someone who is a pain? Much better to cast someone who is similar to you.
Want more useful audition advice? Why not sign up for one of my method acting courses?
Winston Churchill once said that the US and the UK were nations divided by a common language. This could also be said of UK and US acting schools. We may seem similar to the United States but we have a lot of differences in the acting schools department.
The Russians heavily influenced the US back in the late 1800s, mainly due to a man named Konstantin Stanislavsky. Stanislavsky invented a new way of training actors to create more believable acting, which he called ‘The System’.
After his death, his work was continued by Lee Strasberg who developed what is now commonly known as ‘The Method’.
Many acting schools in America follow the workings of ‘The Method’, whereas in the UK they have, in the main, avoided it.
Why? Well, the UK historically has been more comfortable with a less emotional approach and has favoured a more technical approach to acting. “No emotion please, we are British” and the old ‘stiff upper lip’ attitudes have dominated acting schools in the UK for many years and to some extent still do. It is changing – but very slowly.
Because US acting schools followed ‘The Method’ approach, they conquered the film medium very quickly, whereas the UK focused on the stage.
The truth is that you need both aspects in an acting school. You want an acting school to train the actor to deliver emotional content but still master the technical aspects such as voice and movement.
The core aspects of acting training are acting technique, voice and movement. Personally I don’t think that some of the current training goes far enough because today’s actor needs more than the core aspects.
It’s a very competitive industry and the actor needs to know how to navigate the industry, get work and mould a career for him/herself. Many acting schools don’t pay enough attention to this.
What many acting schools need to accept is that the business of acting is an art form as well. Too often I have heard the excuse that actors are artistic therefore not business-minded. Whilst I can understand that someone of an artistic nature is not automatically predisposed to business-type activities, this does not mean the actor can’t understand and learn these aspects as a necessary part of their career development.
To be frank, most people can learn anything if they want it enough.
But often acting schools do not help the situation as they tend to reinforce the view that actors are artistic and therefore they can’t handle the business aspects.
I believe that acting schools have a major role to play in educating the actor on all aspects of the business. What we want is all-rounders; people who are brilliant artistically, who can conduct business with the industry and create outstanding success for themselves.
It is possible. I know for a fact it is. At my acting school I make this a focus of the training – and it makes a difference to how the student approaches the industry when they graduate.
In my experience, acting school teachers fall into three types.
The first is the ‘pleaser’. This kind of teacher just wants to please the student and won’t cause any waves. They don’t like having to confront and they themselves are looking for approval from the student. The problem with this is that, as a teacher, you need to confront students in order to move their ability on. Also, it is dishonest. If a student’s work is not good, they need to know or they will never improve. In fact, this type of acting school teacher is deadly to a student’s progress.
A teacher is not there to be a student’s best friend; they are there to get the student to reach their full potential – and that can mean challenging the student.
The other type of acting school teacher is the ‘dinosaur’. This is an acting school teacher who has been in an acting school for 100 years and has lost touch with the current acting industry. You come across this in some of the old drama schools. The teacher has worked for the school since 1895 and they don’t want to get rid of them because they have been there so long. They may have some insights of value on the craft but they haven’t kept apace with the current acting industry and its demands.
This is also not an ideal situation. As with any industry, it’s crucial that acting students are up-to-date about how to navigate the industry and what will be demanded of them when they finish training.
The last kind of acting school teacher is the ‘truth teller’. I would put myself in this category. This kind of teacher will tell you like it is – warts and all. They do it not to offend but to create pressure whereby the student pushes themselves to their full potential. The teacher also needs to nurture as well as confront. The student should be aware that the teacher has their best interests at heart, to ensure that when the difficult critics arise they are able to deal with them.
I guess there could be a fourth kind of acting school teacher and that is the kind that only confronts and tears a student down but doesn’t build them back up. This is counterproductive and won’t allow the student to move on. Plus, this kind of teacher probably has the student’s best interests at heart.
As with most things in life, a balance is required.
My personal bugbear with some acting school teachers is that they treat it as an ego trip whereby they talk about nothing but themselves. The process of teaching someone is not about the teacher – it is about training the student. Common sense really.
A great teacher is able to put their own ego to one side and make it about the student. A teacher is in the business of helping others and passing on their knowledge.
The interesting thing about great teachers is that they want to work with the best students and that often can be challenging for the teacher.
Despite what you may think, believe me, there is not an abundance of great students. What I mean by “great” is that they are open, eager and willing to put in the hours.
It is a two-way street. Anyone who is highly skilled at something wants to work with others who are easy to work with and have the potential to be great also.
Imagination is a key element for any actor. To people outside of the profession, imagination would play a vital role when working with special effects and though this is true, imagination is at work at all times. Method acting classes as well as other styles work with actors to develop their imagination throughout acting courses.
Method acting classes, provide actors with exercises that utilize their imagination from the start. Actors have to be able to be comfortable at pretending to be in any kind of environment, and on occasion this environment may no longer exist, or have never existed as it is a fictional futuristic one.
It is not just because of sets and environments that imagination is so crucial to the success of any actor. If an actor picks up a prop or even pretends to have an object in his hand, the actor has to convince an audience that it is real. Method acting classes, subsequently teach this aspect of the profession, and configure exercises and courses that all hone the imagination of their students.
Despite the emotional connection method actors have with themselves, as they use their own experiences to generate real emotion for their performances, if an actor cannot appear to be natural in a given environment, or if they fail to convince that there is a person on the other end of a phone call, the game is up. This is especially prevalent in stage acting, where generating and maintaining the illusion is crucial to the success of the performance.
Imagination also helps an actor connect to a character. Many of us may not know what it is like to be a King, however, method acting classes teaches the actor the elements that make a King: Great Power, followers, wisdom, motives, and desires, which in effect make the character human, enabling the actor to relate and to portray the character in the proper light. Imagination is at work here at all times, and often it works in a sublime fashion in the background, but it is always essential to an actor giving a good performance.
Arguably, imagination is the fuel for an actor, and the other techniques taught in method acting classes, are powered by it. Generating the real emotion that sets method actors apart from other actors is made possible through the actor’s imagination.
Would an actor be able to bring fourth real emotion and deliver that emotion together with their lines and appropriate gestures without imagination?
The complexities of method acting are considerable. Actors not only have to be able to connect to emotions they have experienced in the past and recreate them for their part, but they also have to be able to analyse a character, and decide how to portray that character in any given scene. Often, the imagination of the actor will govern how convincing they were in doing that. This is why method acting classes put a great emphasis on this element of the style.
There are many elements that make a method actor. Imagination is one of the most important ones.
There is a very strange thing that has happened in the acting industry around drama school training in the UK. Many acting schools have forgotten that it is a business as well as an art form. The truth is, that to be successful in the acting industry today you need to be more than just an artist. You need to be a business person too – and that’s where many drama schools fall down.
It is my belief that to achieve acting excellence you must be great at acting and great at the business of acting. Hollywood has a different approach to the acting industry; it is very driven by the business requirements first and foremost, and there may be an argument for them being more open to the artistic side.
As with most things in life, there needs to be a balance.
Going to drama school and just learning Shakespeare and Chekhov isn’t going to prepare you for the real world of acting. Most Casting Directors are casting TV roles where they need people to be real and believable – and not to act.
As an actor you have to think of yourself as a company – You Ltd.
You need to get up each day and think that your job is to get a job, and once you get the job your artistic side kicks in and we get to see your work.
I actually think that actors have a duty to sell and market themselves very well, because if they don’t we will never see their work – and all that expensive drama school training would have been a waste.
I am often dumbfounded by how badly wrong many drama schools get it. They train people in the art of the craft but don’t provide them with the tools to get food on the table.
The romantic notion of the struggling artist living in a bedsit is for the birds. There is nothing cool or romantic about it. You need to be positive and proactive out there; hustling to gain a position within the industry.
One thing is for sure. No-one will turn
up on your doorstep with a leading Hollywood role for you to play. You need to go out there and claim it; you need to be business-savvy about how to get in front of the right people.
Part of your acting training should focus heavily on this. I know that’s what I drum into my students and we go to great lengths to equip them in the right way.
Your acting training should be a great experience but it has to face you in the right direction to take on the realities of today’s industry.
London has always played a pivotal role in the world of acting. You only have to look at the number of acting classes in London to understand that this is a city with its heart in the arts.
The West End of London is called Theatreland – and for good reason. There are more theatres there than in probably any other city in the world.
People flood from all over the world to watch shows in the West End which fuels a very healthy proportion of theatre shows.
As well as people coming to watch shows in London, people also flood to train to become an actor London. Why? Well, London has the reputation of providing some of the best acting training in the world.
Of course, there are acting classes in London that will be substandard, but with this being such a large industry, this is no surprise.
The best acting classes in London can be found with some careful investigation and thought about what you need and what the class can provide.
Here are some points to bear in mind when selecting an acting class in London.
- Review the coaches’ credentials. Are they players within the industry or are they just dabbling in training actors?
- Make sure the technique that they teach is top quality. There is no point in learning a technique that is no good.
- Get some form of guarantee. For my Method Acting Boot Camp I always offer a 100% money back guarantee on the first day. I wouldn’t want to take anyone’s hard-earned money for acting training they did not deem exceptional. Unfortunately, I am one of the only people to do this. Most acting classes in London won’t do this for you.
- Will they teach you the business of acting? It’s all well and good learning to act but once you have learned your craft you need to get knee-deep in the industry and you will need guidance.
If you are looking to start an acting career, it’s crucial that you get the correct training. Believe me, when I was training I discovered my fair share of good and bad acting classes, and sometimes you have to give a few a go to find what’s right for you.
One thing I believe is crucial in today’s industry is that the acting class that you choose must be able to teach you how to be real, and show you how to deliver emotion on demand. When you get into the industry this is invaluable. When you’re on set for the first time and the Director wants you to get emotional, you want to be able to flick the right switches in you to achieve that. There is no room for doubt at that stage – you can either do it or not. And you want to be able to deliver on demand.
Good acting classes in London can be hard to come by despite the amount of training offered. Tread carefully and do your homework.
Getting into Acting School can be a tough business. There is a high demand for places so you need to be as prepared as possible.
I sit on the audition panel for my acting school and I have seen all sorts of auditions, from the brilliant to the proverbial car crash.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that drama schools don’t mind if you mess up, because they are looking for the best and it’s a competitive environment, as is the industry.
So, here are five tips to help you secure that elusive place at acting school:
1. Usually you are asked to perform a monologue. This is a short speech from a play or film. Make sure you pick something that you can shine in and that will suit you. Don’t make life difficult for the panel by picking something you would never be cast in. You can stretch your range during your training – but to start with, do something appropriate and do it well.
2. Read the whole play and know every detail about the character, including their full name. A panel may test your knowledge of the character or play to see how well you have prepared. Sometimes I ask for the full name of the character they are playing. You would be surprised how many people can’t answer that question.
3. When you perform, don’t look the audition panel in the eye. Look to the side or above them unless you are reading with them or directed to look at them. When you look them in the eye, you involve them in the acting process and they may be uncomfortable with that. They also want to be able to watch you – not be part of the action.
4. Do some research on the school and be able to talk about what they do. It’s not all about you, you know. Walk a mile in their shoes: what do they teach and how do they teach it? This shows you’re interested in them and have taken the time to do some research.
5. Don’t antagonize a panel by being smart or confrontational. This will get you dumped faster than you can say “Acting School audition”.
Professional audition technique is an art form. When you start auditioning for acting schools, they are not looking for the finished product but raw material and a great attitude they can work with.
I cannot stress how important your attitude is in this process. When I audition people, I am on high alert for any problem people. I spend a year with the students and it could be a long year if you let the negative people slip through the net. I am not alone in this; this is the way most agents and casting directors work. We are well versed in reading the signals of any potential problem people and they never see the light of day.
So, work on having a great attitude and the doors will start to swing open.