I have found over the last decade and a half training aspiring actors in the Meisner Technique, that most students have big misconceptions about training when they first start exploring their options. There are such an array of classes, workshops, conservatories, and coaches in NYC, that if one does not have a good understanding of what is needed, a great deal of money and time can be thrown away.
The first thing that must occur is true clarity about the type of actor and artist you wish to be. The art of acting has been diminished over the past twenty-years. In our current superficial pop-culture, acting is now primarily an outlet for attention seekers intoxicated with the mirage of fame and celebrity. Much of the so called training in this country has found a way to cater to the idea that craft and technique can be acquired very quickly: come take my weekend audition workshop, learn how to book the job, sign-up for our acclaimed film & tv class, come learn important tips from our working professional casting directors and agents, etc. These misunderstandings lead to some big misconceptions about establishing a serious acting career.
I don’t like theater, I just want to study Film & TV
I hear this all the time. The idea that somehow an actor works on a script differently for theater and film is absolutely false. Certainly, both are completely different mediums, but acting is acting. The ability to truthfully do under an imaginary circumstance is the definition of acting. The fundamentals needed to consistently create the flawless illusion of life: out of your head, on your spontaneous impulses, functioning from an open vulnerable and sensitized body, the ability to craft in a simple, specific and personal way, and comfortable functioning from your rage, heartbreak, joy, silliness, fear, sensuality, embarrassment, and humiliation is the same regardless of the stage or the camera. You will not learn to act in a six-week or one year “Film & TV” class.
I don’t need voice & movement, I just want to learn to act.
Any serious artist masters their instrument. The musician, the sculptor, the dancer, the painter, and even the athlete, all work constantly on the ability to handle the tools of their craft with total command, confidence, and ease. For the actor to be truly transformational, a fully developed physical instrument in necessary. A resonant voice, clear speech, and a pliable body capable of processing rich emotion, is what will make you watchable. Tense and strained actors are not interesting or compelling. All an audience experiences is their tension. It is the sign of an amateur.
I’m too old to commit to two years of training. I’ll miss out on a career. I need to audition now.
If I had a dollar for every actor (of any age, but especially those in their 20’s & 30’s) who shared this unrealistic fear, I’d have a vacation home. What aspiring actors fail to realize, is that it’s the training that will give you credibility. Do you know how many thousands upon thousands of people flock to LA and NYC to pursue a fantasy? No one – casting directors, agents, managers etc. will take you seriously, or risk a chance on you if you have no training. You’re just someone who thinks acting is cool. Real industry professionals have their careers and reputations on the line. They find talent from the top MFA, BFA, and Two-Year Acting Programs in the United States. I would not base a long, successful career on looks and personality.
So take yourself seriously, whatever it is you choose to do in life. If you don’t have a clear vision of the artist you want to be, than you are simply wasting your time.