WHAT’S THE POINT…of taking an acting class?

thThe obvious answer is to become a better actor, to hone your skills. And while that’s all well and good I’ve always felt there should be an additional component. Yes, getting better is one of the goals but I think actors should also have the opportunity to put those skills to the test.

The commercial class I teach at the Schreiber Studios in New York is designed so the actors have an opportunity to showcase their work for either an agent and/or a casting director. The actors work with me for six weeks using a technique I developed over my many years as a commercial actor and then on the last week of class they present their work to a casting director and/or an agent. CD’s like Donna Grossman and Kyle Coker have been guests. David Elliott, the senior commercial agent at Buchwald, has also been a guest and next week Amanda Nyman from Stewart Talent will be there.

The point is the actors aren’t working in a vacuum. There is an endgame. They will have an outlet for their newly honed skills. After they’ve presented their work, and gotten feedback, there is a Q & A. It’s a win-win situation — the actors get exposure and the casting directors/agents get a chance to see talent they might not have otherwise known about.

I do the same thing with the on-camera scene study class I teach. In the spirit of full disclosure I do not teach this class at the Schreiber Studios but rather own my own. Click here for more info. The actors in my scene study class have had the opportunity to showcase their work for a wide range of top industry leaders: directors Matthew Penn and Tony Glazer; producer Summer Crockett Moore; talent agent Jamie Harris and casting directors Judy Bowman, David Cady, Donna McKenna;  — just to name a few.

When I had my school in San Francisco I did something similar. Except there because we were exclusively a film/TV acting school, in addition to having agents and casting directors th-6come in to teach classes we also produced four films. We did this so our students would have the “real-life” experience of being on a set. During shooting they discovered the demands of shooting out of sequence, how to develop a character arc that spanned breadth of a full-length film instead of just a short scene in a class. They also learned they had to be Uber-prepared; that they could be called upon to work with little or no rehearsal. It was a great experience for everyone involved.

th-2So, what is the point of an acting class? For me, as a teacher, it’s all about going the extra mile so the actors have a vehicle to use their newly honed skills. It’s about having an endgame.

Class Notes:  New Commercial Level One Class starts 4 May. Click here for details. Or call 212-741-0209.

Coming Soon:  May 28th the casting director Brette Goldstein will be the guest instructor for our next Free Industry Workshop. More details to follow.



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1 Response to WHAT’S THE POINT…of taking an acting class?

  1. kdpartak says:

    John, you are a one of a kind and an amazing teacher. Making a film with you changed my life, in more ways that one, but a funny story I still tell today – “Being in charge of the set and continuity, we had a candy dish that was in many scenes that had the pink peppermint candies in them. We had to break for a number of weeks and the candies melted into a horrible mess in storage. I went to buy more and could not find them to save my life! Thinking on my feet, I headed to a party supply store and purchased a bag of pink balloons and I was thanking my lucky star that the crystal candy dish never had to be opened, it just had to look pink.” I don’t know if you remember that, but I will never forget my time with you and Marsha. Now I get to teach what I learned to my 11 year old son, well, as much as he will listen to me, I am his mom after all.

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