Originally published on Backstage
If you want to know how to make movies the best thing you can do is study. I know many people who don’t think they need to learn about film or acting before they pursue a career; a lot say that it’s all about who you know, and while that is a factor, it’s still important to grow and learn about the thing you want to do in life. Otherwise, in my humble opinion, you’re not going to be giving it 100%.
Think about it, if you wanted to be an Olympic ice skater, you’re not just going to show up at the Olympics and try to get in. You’re going to practice ice skating, you’re going to get a coach, you’re going to compete in competitions, you’re going to do everything you can to hone your skill to give the best performance.
Still, need more reasons why you should go to school for film and acting? Here are three reasons I think you’ll benefit from going to school.
1. Knowing Your Industry
Going to school for film or acting you’ll learn more about the history of the film industry. You’ll get to know the films and actors who shaped the industry. Many phenomenal actors and filmmakers have gleaned wisdom and advice from those who have gone before.
For example, John Krasinski mentioned in an interview that he got inspiration for his film A Quiet Place from film likes Days Of Heaven and The Thin Red Line. Both of which were directed and written by influential filmmaker Terrence Malick, who’s known for shooting the majority of his films outdoors, likes to shoot in natural lighting, and mostly uses steadicam shots.
These are the kinds of things you’d learn by going to a film school.
Going to acting school can help you gain confidence as an actor and give you a perfect platform to actually use your talent.
Also, the advice and guidance from teachers can really help. Often actors have little acting ticks they don’t recognize or see. Some overuse pauses, or sighs, or have a go-to stance they use over and over again for different characters. Acting teachers can help you break out of those ticks. And help hone your skill at the same time.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
In order to grow and mature as a filmmaker or actor, you need to be making content. I heard once, that it takes 10,000 hours for a creative to really master their craft. So if you’re an actor or aspiring filmmaker, being in a school can give you time to practice. And having feedback from your lecturers can give you insight into areas you didn’t realize needed work.
Just the other day, I was hanging out with a friend and we were practicing monologues together. We’d decided to try accents that we were rusty in. I did my monologue for her and her feedback was super helpful. Some of the areas I thought I’d nailed the accent, were actually some of my weakest. Later, at home, I recorded the same monologue with the same accent and picked out the areas my friend had noted. Yes, I could have done that all on my own, but having constructive feedback from others is important. Acting and filmmaking are all about teamwork, and if you don’t have the luxury of connecting with friends, who can help build your skill, a school can be an easy place to find those connections.
3. You’ll Make Connections
One of my favorite creatives at the moment is Brit Marling. She’s someone who knew the kinds of acting roles she wanted, and so she taught herself to write, got together with two of her filmmaker friends from university, and made those films. Brit is very outspoken on the fact that she couldn’t have done this without a team around her. And I for one, am grateful she gets it.
When I teach on film schools, I talk about how a film set is really just a mini city. You’ve got medical professionals, chefs, artists and creatives, builders and painters, accountants and IT techs, and so much more. It really does take a team of people to create a movie.
Many of these teams are built because of film and acting school. I personally am working with a film company full of creatives that I went to film and acting school with and many have joined since because they too met through film or acting school. It’s a natural way of building up the connections you make, especially if the school you go to has guest lecturers who work in the industry. You never know who may see you, and ask you to crew their next film or ask you to audition for their movie.
These are only a few of the reasons I’d suggest you consider going to school for acting or film. There are so many other reasons. You may even find that going to school for it, helps you realize another area in film that you want to work in, but never thought was attainable. When I went to film school, I wanted to focus solely on writing but discovered that I actually loved to edit it too. I’d never have even given editing a try if I hadn’t been forced to try it in school.
Film school students and acting students really have the most natural place to keep learning, growing, and connecting with the film community that can give an edge to their future careers; it’s definitely worth thinking about and seeing if taking a film or acting school is the best idea for you.
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