The business of Acting is more than just talent mixed with creativity. The business of Acting is also discipline, its studying, it’s a continuous daily regimen you create for yourself that is designed for the purposes of sharpening your skills.
When I talk about skills what I’m referring to is technique, I’m talking about craft, I’m talking about those things that make you better, more versatile, things that expand your range as well as add to your talents, things that help you become that Actor that can pull off anything on screen no matter what’s called for.
The reason it is important to sharpen your skills is one, it’ll make you a better actor, two becoming a better actor with more skills makes you more well rounded and marketable and last being more well rounded, more marketable and a better actor will lead to more roles.
Being around different actors as well as listening to a lot of interviews with major actors the thing I hear the most talked about that was critical for them when the started their acting journey was Discipline. Disciplining teaches you to adapt the type of work ethic that makes you take your work serious.
Discipline makes you create the type of schedule that it takes to help you obtain your goals. These schedules and goals are both short term as well as long term. Daily, weekly, monthly as well as 2, 5 and 10 year.
An example of this could be your daily regimen of waking up at 5am and having a hourly or bi hourly list of things to accomplish by the the time the sun goes down. These things could be your hour in the morning listening to a self help audiobook, your afternoon excersise followed by four intense hours set aside for working on acting techniques, Vocal work, script analysis, monologue study etc.
Another example would be your monthly regimen of Mon, Wed Acting Class, Tuesday, Thursday scene study, Friday morning boxing and evening improve group.
Along with this schedule you should make sure that you have clear goals set for each activity, this way these activities have meaning and purpose which will motivate you into making them disciplined habits.
The items you list on these schedules are items designed as teaching exercises, self-improvement exercises and essentially the things that help you improve your craft as an actor.
My favorite actors have always been the ones who are never the same person in the roles they take, they can be the funny All American guy or girl next door one movie and the next the brutish cockney criminal, their facial expression, mannerisms and even dialect are completely different. The ones who can pull this off do so through years of sharpening and increasing their skills. It’s the reason they’re still relevant.
There are so many ways to sharpen your tool but I’m going to go over and list a few.
As an Actor starting out your goal should be to increase your resume.
Acting coaches – Classes and other groups like improve are great but its also important to have that one on one training where teaching and knowledge can be more intimate and generally focused.
Dialect Coaches –Study other Actors
Reading and Study Guides
Shadowing – I’ve had friends of mine go on auditions where they have to play a medical student and do a dialogue scene full of medical jargon and at the same time have to come of as authentic as possible. Question, have you heard people in the medical field talk to each other, have you seen or heard the words they use to describe a certain type of medicine or internal body part? It can sound very foreign, words that you don’t use on a daily basis and put in plane sentences. Words you don’t know how to pronounce etc.
I’ve had friend go out for auditions where they play police officers. Being an officer of the law comes with its own complexities, internal struggles, mixing the right amount of caution, fear or bravery, aggression and control.
The inspiration for Sean’s Penn’s character _ in Fast Times was inspired by an actual person he knew growing up.
I’m sure there are characters that have specifics about them that you’ve come across, you should spend some time in their shoes just as an exercises, see how much like them you can become, from their mannerisms, the way they talk, even a quirky laugh or walk. Look at it as character development which is helping you develop as an actor.
BRIEF LIST OF EXCERCISES THAT CAN HELP WITH SHARPENING YOUR SKILLS... TRY AND THINK OF MORE...
Boxing, serious study of boxing
Take a master chef class
Take a class, study how the teacher teaches
Go to a grief group
Waiter / Waitress
Create a daily, weekly and monthly schedule for yourself. If you aren’t currently enrolled in any acting courses, make a schedule made up of short term goals you wish to accomplish within the next month and make sure you add some sort of acting class, vocal class, improve, etc to that schedule.
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