Screen Acting Syllabus

Screen Acting Syllabus

'I am truly eternally grateful to you for putting such wonderful people and talented actors in touch with me... the guys I have worked with have truly blown me away. I am overwhelmed by the talent involved'. ~ Ibi Vaughn, Producer, 'Glue' E4

In our professional opinion, every actor, even those wishing to pursue a film career, will benefit from the discipline of live performance.

Therefore, as well as the subjects covered below, our actors can expect to look in-depth at Shakespeare, scene-study, script-writing, voice and movement, Motion Capture, as well as screen acting.

Here is a list of topics covered by our screen acting tutors (see 'Our People').

Term One:

  • General Introduction - what do we mean by 'acting for screen'?

  • The importance of thinking (being) rather than showing/demonstrating

  • The perils of over-acting or 'acting' on screen

  • Study examples from films and ask students to select their own

  • Analysis of close-ups and mid-shots - to blink or not to blink!

  • What should an actor's relationship with the camera be?

  • Does the camera lie? If so, how?

  • Re-action shots - 'listening with the eyes' and 'power listening'.

  • Cultivating positive mental approaches/attitudes to screen acting (relaxation, 'stillness') - 'owning the space'.

Term Two:

  • Differences between film and stage acting

  • The difference between 'persona' and 'character' acting

  • Study examples of 'persona' screen acting (from Cagney to Eastwood to De Niro to DiCaprio)

  • More close-up work

  • Technical considerations to make note of when working on set

  • Hitting the mark - what does this mean?

  • How to 'own' the mark

  • Study examples

  • Film scenes

Term Three:

  • The importance of working with props - from telephones to guns!

  • How to 'own' props and make them work for you

  • Working on combinations of the above eg, close-ups, props, and hitting the mark.

  • Moments of Transition.

  • Full-on scene study and text work, employing everything discussed and experienced in class so far.

  • How to be effective in auditions for film and TV.

  • How to survive (and prosper) on set - professional 'dos' and 'don'ts'.

  • Film scenes

Term Four:

  • Genre acting - horror. Occasionally going 'over the top' as a choice. (Think Jack Nicholson in ' The Shining'). Is less always more? Sustaining fear and tension (without tensing) through multiple takes.
  • Comedy. Is 'comic' acting different from 'serious' acting? If so, how?
  • Docu-style. Look at the work of Ken Loach (Kes), and Mike Leigh (Naked), sometimes known as 'slice of life' acting.
  • European acting styles (French, Russian, etc). Observing key differences in approach - distance, neutrality, emotional detachment. The 'power of inscrutability'.Film & Edit Showreels

1 to 1 tutorials will be scheduled on Friday mornings and afternoons.

The syllabus will also include voice/movement, general acting, theatre work and text/verse classes.

Terms 2 and 3 will be developed according to the needs of each group after a Term 1 assessment. Both will include internal shows.

Term 4 will be predominantly concerned with a public theatrical showcase, and the creation of a professional standard showreel.

Hours of attendance may increase, particularly in Terms 3 and 4.

Lateness will not be tolerated.

Acting for Motion Capture  - an introduction to performance capture (designed by Robin Berry, see 'Our People'):

  • Performers will gain a basic but detailed introduction to the world of performance capture.
  • Actors will also hopefully connect more with their own physicality.
  • How does it work?
  • A brief look at the application and history of performance capture.
  • Learning the fundamental differences between acting for camera and acting for mo cap.
  • A workshop on creature performance including apes and wolves.
  • Scene work with feedback.

What do you gain?

  • An insight into the world of Performance capture.
  • An introduction into creating physicalities both human and animal.
  • A better understanding of how to build a character from the starting point of physicality.

'I trained with Paul McNeilly... I didn't really go to drama college or anything like that - it was just him and he taught me everything. He even taught me a little bit of directing and writing. You can never know too much about the business - it's always helpful'. Charlie Clapham (Freddie Roscoe, Hollyoaks) DigitalSpy. Nominated for 'Best Actor in a Soap' 2016.