The first step in commencing your budding acting career is to find the right acting school and, most importantly, the right acting teacher for you.
If you want to learn stage acting then you have a wide choice of institutions. If you want to study screen acting, the choices are limited.
But the most critical thing is finding the right acting tutor.
An experienced screen acting tutor not only makes their classes fun, focused and highly educational but has no agenda, is willing to pass on all of their extensive knowledge and doesn’t play the “favourites” game.
Everyone in class, no matter what their colour, background, religion or sexual preferences must be treated equally and with respect. Any good acting school knows that the most important asset the school has is its students. For without them you don’t have a school.
Okay fine. But what to avoid?
Avoid teachers who bring their ego into the room because it’s all about them and not about their students.
Avoid so-called “screen acting” schools who do not have a fully equipped studio space; as working on sets with the relevant props, film lighting, professional video and sound recording equipment, and a stand alone professional edit suite to show the students how their scenes shape up when edited, will not give you the well-rounded and in-depth education you need.
Unless you are a masochist, avoid tutors who are abusive, overly critical or heavy handed. Actors can be fragile little creatures and they should be nurtured, not abused or yelled at if they make mistakes.
Mistakes are how we learn our most valuable lessons and if you are afraid of making mistakes you will never achieve real growth.
When I founded the Screen Actors Workshop over thirty years ago, my manifesto was to train brave, creative actors for the Australian film and television industry. We have certainly achieved that aim as our alumni have demonstrated over the years.
If you are afraid of your teacher because they abuse you when making a mistake, then the fear they instill in you will block you from fulfilling and developing to your full potential as an actor. Instilling fear in your students is the worst thing you can do. And if you find yourself in this situation, you are wasting your time and money.
Brave, creative acting students are nurtured, and given unbiased feedback on their work. They are not abused and made to feel worthless.
Full time courses are another thing altogether, but if you’re looking to attend part-time classes then any decent acting school will give you a free trial class. If you like the facilities and feel comfortable with the tutor, then join the class. If not, then try other schools until you find a good fit.