Acting for Film Semester Program
COURSES, FIRST SEMESTER
First Semester duration: 15 weeks
The first semester curriculum of Acting For Film program covers below listed obligatory courses, and optional elective courses.
1. Acting Theory
The acting class credits are composed of units taught by industry professionals who teach specific units. The overall goal of the course is to introduce students to the practice of a naturalistic acting style. The reading list includes Sanford Meisner’s On Acting, and Konstantin Stanislavsky’s An Actor Prepares.
This course serves as an introduction to the Meisner Technique and to the idea that acting is "living truthfully under the imaginary circumstances". Students will start to work on the habits of listening to their partner, sharpening and deepening their opinions, expanding the limits they place on the how much they can express, and recognizing and following their instinctual responses through use of Meisner's repetition exercise. This is the first half of Meisner's definition of acting.
The Stanislavsky work is focused at this stage on the actors using themselves as their own material. Doing exercises like Private Moment, Open Scenes, and working with Intentions and Endowments, the actors discover how to use the wealth of material in them and around them to create a believable and interesting figure for stage or film. The initial focus is on characters that are very close to the actors’ own real lives so that they can naturally develop their sense of truth. Actors learn how to analyze scenes and characters using concepts like given circumstances, objectives, obstacles, super-objectives, and subtext to shape their work.
2. Screen Acting Craft
Acting is both an art and a craft. This course will focus on craft, emphasizing the technical demands of screen acting. Students will learn to calibrate their performances specifically for the camera frame, adjusting for close ups and a wide shots. Since the camera photographs thought, students will learn to develop an active and varying inner monologue, and understand the nuances of acting, thinking and listening with the eyes. A scene study unit underscores how to break down a scene and play it effectively for camera. The course dovetails with the Film Production course in which students work in front of camera. Reading list includes, Susan Batson’s “Truth”, David Mamet’s “Truth and False”, and Patrick Tucker’s “Secrets of Screen Acting.” This course dovetails with GaBaMa (Good acting, bad acting, mediocore acting) to develop students’ knowledge of classic films and film criticism.
3. Film Production
The film production class is a practical acting and production class for actors. This course will familiarize students with the business of working in film and is designed to encourage self generated, collaborative projects. Acting in student films, and collaborating with student directors is an integral part of the acting program during film school production periods. Students create a vlog, and innovate acting projects to showcase their work. Students will become comfortable operating, as well as performing in front of camera, and using modern internet technologies to promote their work. Weekly tutorials in editing enable actors to edit their film clips and create a showreel as a final project. Reading list includes Nancy Bishop’s Secrets from the Casting Couch; On Camera Strategies from a Casting Director. This course also includes Audition Techniques, taught by local CSA casting director David Stejskal.
4. Movement for Stage and Screen (obligatory)
The actor must be physically fit and flexible. Each class day begins with an hour long strengthening, warm-up regime, preparing students for the physical and vocal aspects of the craft. Units in this class include yoga, dance, stage combat, and physical acting, which are led by professionals in the fields. Students are trained for the demands of the professional market were actors use their bodies to create a character, and undertake challenging stunt work. Dance classes teach students grace, and composure as well as fundamental steps for developing muscle memory in choreography. They practice tempo, beat, counting time, meter, rhythm, dynamics, as well as the theoretical and practical knowledge of the different types of dances such as Waltz, Tango, Wieneswaltz , and Slowfox. Yoga courses teach students how to concentrate and relax the body, increase strength and flexibility and manage stress. Professional members of a stunt company teach students to safely choreograph combat and manage weapons.
5. Voice and Speech
Students will develop performance skills for professional film and theatre through speech and vocal preparation, development and dialect disciplines. Such skills will include introductory work on relaxing and warming up the voice, and developing an appreciation for working with the voice. Actors will learn to channel voice work towards the creation of character, and master basic techniques of dialect mastery. Students will build upon and practice the vocal techniques, expanding vocal range, including exercises designed to enhance articulation and vocal quality/resonance. Exercises will increase awareness of the actor’s own dialect and transform his/her speech and voice patterns into that of another person’s dialect. The instructors work on individual speech needs for each student, focusing either on accent reduction or the mastery of a selected dialect dialects (usually Standard American, or Standard British).
6. Alternative Techniques
This course is a survey of acting principals, offering students a toolkit of techniques and approaches. The first semester focuses on basic improvisational techiniques, as well as ensamble development and stratagies. Students explore working in paris and groups developing strong impulses and reaction skills. Basic improvs give students the opportunity to explore working creatively wtih strong characters and objectives.
7. Elective/Specialization Courses (each student takes 1 course)
Aesthetics of the Film Shot as a Component of Film Language
Arri & RED Cameras
Central and East European Cinema
Directing the Camera
Documentary Theory and History
Photography for Cinematography
Workshops with visiting film directors, voice specialists, casting directors and acting coaches enrich the program. Students are provided professional development guidance, trained further in casting and helped to develop effective show-reels, CVs and professional networks.