My Acting Class

When I'm around actors who are passionate about chasing the work, I'm my happiest. My favorite places to be are rehearsals, sound stages, theaters, classes and locations. I love actors and acting.
I believe the only way to teach acting is to encourage and nurture my students.
It's so important for actors to be emotionally available and sensitive in our work.
Ideally our emotional life is expressed in a spontaneous and instinctive way. If we worry about being judged by the audience, other actors, or even ourselves (the harshest judge of all), we tend to put on a protective mask.

BodhiFelicia

No actor should ever worry about getting it "right" and doing it "perfectly".
No such thing. If we seek to understand and accept who we are, and express that in our work, we will be unique. We will be perfect. Perfectly ourselves, unlike any other. That pursuit needs our truth.

We need to have a safe place to express our deepest thoughts and feelings in service to our acting. And we need to be able to make mistakes and fall

on our face, and then get back to it with enthusiasm and passion.

Acting is simple entertainment. We hope we tell a story that will entertain.
I also think at the very highest level of acting, we can move the audience deeply.

RogerAlex
These stories that we tell can change someone's life.
A person in the audience might see that story and feel that it's their story; that it spoke to, or challenged a deeply held belief. It's possible that the experience of watching a movie or play or TV show can be a spiritual one.

That is the level of acting that I believe we can all achieve, if we're willing to do the work.

Through our training, on our way to achieving the highest level, the goal is becoming a solid professional craftsperson. And if we're doing our job, the audience is entertained by the story.

If we're determined, disciplined and lucky, we can almost change someone's life.

I think anyone can develop the skills, instincts and imagination to soar as an actor.

It starts with your passion.

Some Acting Tools That I Teach

Relaxation

Relaxation is at the heart of creating the most authentic and instinctive acting. Stanislavski referred to tension as the "occupational disease" of the actor. Strasberg believed that tension is the greatest enemy of an actor. Tension in an actor blocks the free flow of emotional energy and imagination. We work toward finding an ease in our way of working, a way into that "zone" or "channel" where actors want to be. We learn to identify unwanted tension in the muscles of the body, and learn to let it go. Although there are many ways to relax and release tension, it’s vital that we find an “energized relaxation” that propels us through the story.

Imagination
Concentration & Observation
Scene Study
The Business of Acting

On Stage vs. On Camera Acting

Acting on a stage and acting on camera have one basic difference.
On stage we prepare our work to show an audience. Their presence is essential to our work. Every performance is different because every audience is different; the energy from the actors and those watching them feed off each other.

When we prepare our work for the camera, we're not showing anybody anything. We are having a private experience with the other actors in the scene. The same way you'd have a private conversation with someone inside of a closed car, or in a room where you're alone, with no one watching. What happens is that there's a camera spying on us, eavesdropping on our private intimate moments.

If we start to "perform" or "show" what's going on (the way we do on stage), it will look fake. The camera never lies. If we start "acting", then we won't be believed. But, truthful behavior that is simply "witnessed" is what we want.

How Class Works

Each night of class, I select 2 person scenes for everyone. I have thousands of scenes from movies and TV, all formatted for the on-camera exercise we do in class. The scenes are mostly evenly weighted for both actors. After reading it once or twice, the student then daydreams about the circumstances. Where is it? When is it? Do these people know each other? Are they a couple? Do they work together? What do they do for work? And on and on and on. Whatever details define a person's life, are all the details to ask questions about. We also talk about the circumstances together. Then with the 2 actors sitting in chairs, facing each other, both shot in close-up by separate cameras, and displayed on a split-screen monitor, we begin to work on the scene. 

Every student works on camera in every class.
I record the work, and post it on an unlisted YouTube channel and send everyone the links. I never take the videos down, so students can look at their work at various times in their training to see the progress. I think it's very important to be able to see if we're actually doing on camera, what we think we're doing when we're acting.
We sometimes do studio exercises adapted from Stanislavski, Meisner, Strasberg, Hagen, Lewis, Adler and Linklater, to work on relaxation, imagination, concentration, communication, voice and other elements of actor training. 
In every class, I also address questions about the business of acting; auditions, headshots, marketing, agents, unions and anything else students ask.

© 2017 Riverside Film Acting Class