What’s it really like to study Acting for Film?
“Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.” – Meryl Streep
- Sometimes I find myself wishing there was a script for important first meetings or critical situations in life. While en route to Ealing for the first of a 12-week part time acting for film course at Met Film School, it occurred to me how we often already play the best versions of ourselves in such situations. Whether it’s on the first day of a new job; when meeting new people; when starting a new school – we manage to adapt to a new environment quickly enough to find our place and fit in. Indeed, there’s a little Streep inside all of us.
- Any nerves I had that day were quickly dismissed by the warm welcome from the staff and fellow course members upon entering the school building. As we gathered in one of the classrooms, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the very first part of the class involved getting acquainted with the camera equipment, as well as filming short sequences while trying different camera settings. Understanding the technical skills relevant to film acting is a most valuable part of the course. And it makes absolute sense: in order to understand and fully appreciate the many different angles, shots, and takes that make up a scene, it helps tremendously to understand the technical aspect of it as well.
- In previous training I had already discovered how different theatre acting is to film acting. Not in the least because of these technical aspects such as camera angles, where you’ll sometimes find yourself having to say ‘I love you’ to a door or having to quickly change from a cheerful wedding scene into a scene where you’re crying your eyes out (to just a camera man capturing your dramatic close-up, of course.) In order to achieve an authentic performance for the screen, there are certain techniques to be applied. In order to get us all acquainted with these techniques and as an introduction to the group, we played the game ‘two truths, one lie’. It’s usually played to lighten the mood, but try playing it with a group of actors… Before you know it, clever acting tricks are used and the truth and lies are interwoven without a single blink of an eye. As we went around the room, little facts and details about situations that never happened were quickly brought to the table (I, for instance, once jumped out of an air plane on a little island in the north of the Netherlands, around 1999. Or 1998? – In reality, I wouldn’t even climb a ladder that’s too high.) Insert more nervous coughs, extra long pauses, cheeky grins, and it quickly became impossible to tell what was truth and what was fiction.
- We sat in that circle, looking each other in the eyes for authenticity and truthfulness; just so is it also in front of the camera. There is nowhere to hide, nothing to conceal, so if your story is not convincing, your audience won’t believe a single word of it. In the next coming weeks, our techniques will be refined; our knowledge enhanced and our performances closely examined.
- I very much look forward to 12 weeks of improvisation, discovery, and losing inhibitions. As Meryl said: just start with the truth, and start with yourself. We’re all ready for our close-up!
Part-Time Acting for Film is aimed at all those wishing to learn or develop their existing acting skills for the medium of film. Find out more on our course page.