Stage acting and screen acting are really opposite sides of the same coin. However the technical aspects and performance techniques required for theatre and camera are vastly different.
There is an overabundance of training available for stage acting and when you consider that all full-time courses in Australia cater to theatre training with scant emphasis placed on acting for camera, then you begin to wonder why this is so. Over a three year full-time course, there is an average of only six weeks spent on training for the camera. Yes, you read that right: Six weeks over a three year full-time course!
The over catering of theatre training just doesn’t make sense, especially when you consider that professional theatre is basically a closed shop until you have gained a national acting profile.
So how do you go about gaining a profile in the first place? The answer is simply by gaining exposure through television drama and feature films. Screen acting in other words. So why are there so few schools in Australia specialising in screen acting while the vast majority teach theatre? Basically because the theatre schools thumb their noses at screen acting, seeing it as nothing but a lowly second rate cousin to the theatre: Theatre is high art in their opinion, while film and television is considered to be lowbrow entertainment for the masses.
Don’t get me wrong, I love going to see a good play as much as I enjoy seeing a good film or a quality Australian television drama. Actors who understand and can perform successfully in both mediums are obviously well-rounded performers. Actors who can switch from one medium to the other can take advantage of film and television work when it is available, and when it dries up move on to a professional theatre production, thereby staying in work, gaining valuable experience and staying solvent. The bottom line is that the real money is in screen acting.
Stage Actors Fail at Screen Tests and Auditions
Unfortunately theatre trained actors consistently fail at screen tests and auditions. Why? Because they don’t understand the requirements of the camera and their training has not prepared them for the screen. This is a problem that directors and casting agents have to deal with on a day to day basis.
To quote Ray Argall (President of the Australian Directors Guild), “As Film and Television Directors, we are the ones who work with actors to build, cajole, encourage and create the on-screen performance. A common observation from our directors is that emerging actors have not always developed skills or experience in screen drama – and there a very few schools nationally who specialise in screen actor training.”
To quote Richard Harris (CEO South Australian Film Corporation), “The craft of screen performance is a difficult one and one where there is a clear need for further training. Any course which is focused exclusively on screen acting is a worthy initiative.”
And to quote Sascha Huckstepp (Sascha Huckstepp Casting Consultants), “During my ten years as a casting director the most fundamental problems facing actors is their lack of camera technique. Many actors spend thousands of dollars and many years studying theatre and different techniques yet when they audition for film, television and commercials they fail within minutes. And in such a competitive industry where decisions are made in those first critical moments many talented actors are overlooked due to their lack of technical understanding.”
The solution to these problems is simple. If you’ve just graduated from a three year full-time acting course, then go to one of the handful of screen acting schools and get some solid training for the screen. And if you are thinking of attending an acting school, either full or part-time, then get some screen training first up.
The Screen Actors Workshop is one of the few training institutions specialising in on-camera acting tuition. Book in now for a ten week term of classes. It will pay dividends for you.