Let's talk about Acting Classes

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There are so many options here, I am almost scared to tell you mine.

People feel SO strongly about their designated actor training. They get passionate (and passive aggressive but we can talk about that later). So I am not going to tell you what class to take. I first want to cover the basics. 

And then I can tell you what classes I myself have taken, if you're curious. 

There is a huge different between a workshop vs. class vs. coaching. Different strokes for different folks...but mostly you need different things at different times. Let's break this down. 


Workshops

(Typical costs are hard to estimate as they are all different. I wouldn't pay of $600 for a two day workshop though)

Workshops are usually longer condensed periods of time when you work with an instructor for 4+ hours on something specific. They can range from large to small topics.

For example, I have taken: improv workshops, a sitcom comedy workshop, a pilot season workshop, technique specific ones, you name it. These are usually not ongoing, more like a one time emerson. 

I personally think these are great when you are thinking of trying a new class/technique (I hate that word but whatever) or when you are new to LA. I take them 2-3x a year to test out something new. 

You may not love them all, and that's ok. But I highly recommend you research any single one you want to do. They can get pricey. 

The last thing you want is to pay $800 for a 2 day class that you get nothing from. And talking to a friend who took the workshop is not considered research. Google it for gods sake. 


Class

(Preface: average acting class price in LA is between $200-$400)

Acting classes are as individual as gluten tolerance levels. And much like opinions on the subject, everyone has one. So this is an investment.

AUDIT classes. Almost all classes offer this. It means you sit in on a class and see what it's like. Some places don't do audits, and that doesn't mean they aren't legit. Just ask what other options they have. Many times they will do a workshop offer or set you up to interview with a coach or pro student. 

However. 

There are such a thing as bad classes. And these classes have students who believe in them wholeheartedly. So you have to snoop around. Here are some things I see as red flags in potential classes:

-Students don't get to work every class: if you pay hundreds of dollars to a class and don't get to work every week, that is not cool. 

-They use a method you can't get behind: I once went to audit a class that was based on imagined life memories. Not my thing. But I knew that and got out asap.

-The teacher treats students like shit: "Build them up to break them down" is not helpful, not creatively inspiring, and not fucking ok. You should feel comfortable to f-up a little. That's why you are there! 

-They require a LOT of outside class work and prioritize it over your auditions: I personally have never been ok with hours of homework. I don't think it is realistic to the time you get on real payed gigs. And I am even more not ok with classes putting themselves above auditions. Auditions are why you are in LA. Not to study with some dude in the valley. 

-They are just too expensive: Have a cap on your class spending. I have spent $800 and I have spent $200. And I have gotten equal amounts from these. More money doesn't always equal more learning...sometimes it equals less because the teacher is a self obsessed prick who likes to bolster their self esteem and talk about themselves instead of teaching. I digress...

Found a class that fits your budget, time schedule, and curiosity? Yay! Share it with us below. 


Coaching

(Coaching will run you anywhere from $30 per 30 min to $200-300 an hour)

I didn't have a coach for the first 3-4 years I lived in LA. I didn't really understand the purpose. Boy I sure do now. 

An acting coach is often times found in your class, but not always. Their job is to coach you for a specific audition. They usually schedule last minute time slots very easily (since you never get much notice for auditions) and work with you anywhere from 15min-2 hours on your piece. You can also put auditions on tape with them usually for an additional fee.

Yes, they can serve other purposes and offer other services, but this is what I utilize mine for. 

I have only had one acting coach so far in LA, so that is my experience I will reference here. 

As I have gotten more "big" (such a relative term) auditions, I have stared to use my coach (Sara Mornell, who I found via a class via an intensive...all comes full circle doesn't it!) more often. Sometimes we Skype (she moved to Atlanta a few months ago) and sometimes we work in person if she is in town. She puts me through my paces and we analyze the scene, the beats, and every action I will do in the audition room. 

I cannot tell you how much more confidence you have walking into a room after having worked with a pro on your audition piece. If you think about it, most of the nerves come from the fear of doing it "wrong" in one way or another. But when you have worked out all the pieces and already been validated on your work (the goal of every actor ever) you just feel like you're putting on a performance. Doing what you do. 

Weight on shoulders = lifted. 

I don't use a coach for all my auditions. Usually only TV and bigger film roles. But that is per your discretion.

I recommend developing a relationship with a coach over time. That way you already know how each other works, and the process is even more precise. But testing out a few isn't a bad ideal.