When you’re trying to break into the acting industry, it can be difficult to know which route to take.
The most obvious option is to take an acting class or join an amateur actors’ club at your school or local community center.
Here you’ll be able to learn techniques, get used to performing in front of other people, and you’ll get the opportunity to perform in showcases and plays.
However, if you’re looking to learn acting at home, there are several other methods you can use.
A good start is to read about acting, whether it’s acting techniques or reading up on your favorite actor’s background. How did they learn to act? What method of acting did they use?
You should also read plays and monologues, as well as watch plenty of films. This allows you to better understand how characters are written, and also exposes you to different performances and actors.
Practice scenes or monologues and record yourself. You can listen or watch these back, analyzing your voice, diction, and movements.
This is the only way you can evaluate your performance properly, without relying on how you sound in your own head.
You should also practice ‘cold readings.’ This is when you practice performing a piece of material you are not familiar with.
This is an extremely useful skill as an actor, as it will come in handy for last-minute auditions or other situations where you may have to perform something you’re not well acquainted with.
Can acting be self-taught?
Acting can definitely be self-taught in the sense that you don’t need to have had a formal acting education. Many famous actors are self-taught, including Jim Carrey, Johnny Depp, and Cameron Diaz.
However, it’s also worth bearing in mind that you need to constantly expose yourself to different methods of acting, different films and plays, and various materials.
So while you can be self-taught, most great actors will agree that they’re constantly evolving and learning new tips and tricks from others. This is one of the major benefits of attending a drama class or drama school.
Can we learn acting by watching movies?
You can definitely learn certain things from movies. You learn more about how characters are written, how films are structured, and you get exposed to new actors who you can look up afterward.
Watching movies allows you to analyze an actor’s performance: how do they portray certain emotions? What do we learn about the character from their behavior, clothing, or way of speaking?
Movies can definitely offer a great education, but you won’t necessarily learn to act by only watching movies.
In order to truly learn how to act you need to practice acting yourself. Record yourself, read books on acting, practice reading scripts you’re not familiar with…
Movies can’t teach you how to memorize scripts, for example, which is why it’s important to watch movies and use other methods to become a better actor.
How can I get better at acting without lessons?
- Establish a routine: the key to getting better at acting without taking acting lessons is to establish a strong routine. Just like you’d train to become fitter, you need to stick to a strict schedule if you want to become a better actor. This means putting aside a set amount of time every day to dedicate to acting. It could be doing a cold reading, practicing your favorite monologue, or analyzing a script. Mix things up and push yourself out of your comfort zone though, as if you practice the same kind of characters you won’t evolve as an actor.
- Be as creative as possible: you should also turn to other forms of expression to get your creative juices flowing. A great way to do this is to write for ten minutes a day - whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t need to have a structure or focus, just allow your thoughts to spill onto the page.
- Observe other people: observing is a massive part of becoming a good actor. Observe films, plays, and other actors, but also observe the world around you. Pay close attention to people’s mannerisms, personalities, and the way in which they talk.
- Use your senses: you should also try to be ‘present’ and continually tune into your five senses. Wherever you are, whether it’s on a bus, walking down a busy street, or sitting in the park, take in your surroundings: what can you see? What can you hear? Smell? Feel? Taste?
How can I learn acting at home?
Learning acting at home can be difficult, and it’s always best to join a class if you’re serious about learning to act.
However, it is possible to learn the basics at home.
The best way to do this is to read about acting. Learn about how actors memorize their lines and which style of acting your favorite actors use.
Watch a lot of films, plays, and TV shows. Observe the characters and analyze their mannerisms and what you take away from the performance.
Practice reading scripts and monologues, and record yourself so you can listen and watch your performance back to analyze your performance.
If you’ve got a friend or family member who can act with you, even if it’s just reading out another part, this is great practice.
Another important thing to remember is to stick to a routine. You won’t be able to master the basics of acting unless you practice. Dedicate time every day to acting, and don’t be afraid to watch back your performances - this is how you get better.
How can I learn camera acting?
Camera acting - or screen acting - is a lot different from performing in plays. Rather than acting in front of an audience, the camera is your audience.
Here are some tips for mastering camera acting:
- Imagine your eyes are like magnets: they have the ability to pull the audience in. Everything you’re thinking and feeling can be reflected through the eyes.
- Treat silences as lines. Film and television editing require reaction shots and a lengthy post-production process, so treat pauses and silences in the script as lines themselves.
- Know your audience. You can’t directly see your audience, but you still need to hold them in your mind, and remember you’re acting for them, not the crew.
- Learn the technical language of the film set. Get to grips with the different roles, shot sizes, and the intended camera movement. This will prevent you from having to constantly ask the DOP or director what something means.
How do you prepare for acting classes?
Joining an acting class for the first time can be daunting, but it’s also extremely exciting and will help you develop and grow as an actor.
You can prepare yourself for acting classes by:
- Familiarizing yourself with drama games - you’ll be playing these a lot.
- Doing research on the school, the teachers, and other students.
- Practicing breathing exercises
- Be prepared to try new things
- Familiarize yourself with improvisation
- Be as comfortable as possible with your own voice
- Remind yourself of why you signed up in the first place
- Wear something you’re comfortable in
- Be prepared for group and individual work
- Relax - and stop expecting the worst-case scenario!