Recently some nobody named Nhan Le asked me about these 4 particular “acting classes”. These were either gimmicky short cut on-camera classes or some overrated flavor of the month class that discourages memorization and script analysis. I replied back with much more serious schools that taught a legitimate technique and here were some of the many silly things he replied back with:
1.”Jennifer Lawrence never took an acting class”
Jennifer Lawrence was the best in her acting classes and currently gets some of the top coaches on the Larry Moss level. She also was a child actor before she did Winter’s Bone, X-Men, Hunger Games, Silver Linings Playbook, etc. She did NOT just come out of nowhere without any training.
2. “You never rehearse or shoot a movie from beginning to end like theater”
True, you don’t get to rehearse in film and t.v., BUT you better come to set as if you did rehearse!
The thinking that you don’t have to rehearse in an acting class because you don’t on set is like saying you don’t need to rehearse with the L.A. Philharmonic and can just come to a concert and expect magic to happen.
You rehearse in a GREAT acting class so you can can slowly learn how to be properly prepared. As you become more experienced, being prepared takes less time, eventually preparing you for the fast pace of film/tv.
3. His rebuttal to why traditional and long term training is not important. “I do see MMA fighter who trained for 6 months beating the crap out of 3rd degree black belts in karate. So is film training to methods acting is like MMA training to Karate?”
This is probably the dumbest analogy with acting.
In a traditional martial art like Karate, Kung Fu, or Tae Kwon Do, you abide by rules and an codes of honor. You get penalized in sparring matches and tournaments for hitting the face or below the belt. These martial arts were designed for self-defense.
MMA was designed for beating people up and for sport. What you’re taught not to do in a traditional martial art is encouraged.
An MMA tournament also has fewer rules so of course an MMA fighter could beat up a traditional martial artist regardless of years.
4. “How do you explained kids getting an Oscar and are always more believable than adults? Don t you think an actor s process is to be simpler again?”
True, kids don’t have inhibitions and thus, when they play “cowboys and Indians” there’s no judging. It’s just “let’s play”. But the reality is that as we grow up, that sense of play disappears. But AS AN ADULT, saying “let’s play” isn’t as simple to do as it sounds. If it were that simple, more people would be doing acting and actually succeeding.
Also, child actors don’t deal with deep monologues or scripts like Meryl Streep, Denzel, or Tom Hanks. That’s when more advanced acting technique becomes required.
5. Attacking Larry Moss. “Moss is a scientologist who is known to imposed it on others”
Moss is NOT a Scientologist! If you’re talking about Milton Katselas, yes, he was a Scientologist, but he didn’t force his students to become Scientologists.
6. His rebuttal to why script analysis isn’t important. “Spielberg and DePalma is anti-script analysis”
They may be, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t properly break down your script to bring depth to the work. Memorizing lines and relying on the other actor is NOT enough!
Being able to understand the story is a critical component to why you say your lines. You have to have a moment before, the relationship, a justification to why the conversation exists in the first place, etc. You get those answers with script analysis!
7. “I have hit many monologues out of the park with beats & transitions by not using any traditional methods.”
Then why aren’t you out there working or have an Imdb?
8. “But for most people who have a smaller roles (by tomorrow), scene study classes hurt greatly”
WRONG! Yes, in a scene study class you work more on lead roles and spend weeks on the same scene.
The importance of most great scene study classes is to slowly and systematically teach you how to be prepared so you can get a job. As you get better, you become faster in the preparation and rehearsal time becomes less. Like in music, you learn a piece slowly to workout any difficulties before you can play it a full tempo.
And even if you have a small role, it doesn’t mean you do less work!
9. His defending a class that discourages learning your lines. “Speaking of memorizing lines, they changed writings all the time and your pre-planned/blocking can go out the window in a heartbeat”
Yes re-writes happen, but you can’t predict them. If you practice breaking down the script and come initially off book you’re better off for doing that. And if rewrites happen, so what? You’ve done the script analysis and know the given circumstances and can easily adapt v.s. not doing any script analysis or work and struggling to memorize.
10. “What I am afraid of is being in class for 10 years without credits”
If you’re in a class for 10 years and not working, you either should find a better class or be realistic and quit.
And if you’re not submitting yourself nor getting agents to submit your for bigger stuff while you’re training, YOU STOOPID! How the hell are you going to apply what you’re learning by being a slave to academia. Acting is NOT like Medical School where you have to finish before you can perform surgery.
11. “I am never going to do Shakespeare just for the sake of showing that I can.”
You’re seriously robbing yourself if you blow off Shakespeare! Trying to understand Shakespeare is the P90X of script analysis. If you can breakdown and fully understand Shakespeare, any film and t.v. script is remedial work.
Also, Shakespeare is STILL relevant because almost every good story comes from Shakespeare and has been told again and again.
There’s a reason why the Brits and Aussies are kicking our ass in taking American made projects.
Take it away Charlie Sandlan of The Maggie Flanigan Studio: