Are you born to be in front of the camera? Does the camera bring out your dramatic side? Pursuing a degree or diploma in Acting for the Camera has more advantages than you might think.
While many aspects of acting for the camera are inherent there are many skills you’ll need to learn before you can step in front of the camera professionally. For example: how to make sure you stay in frame and focus while performing, knowing which camera to look at as a presenter, as well as how to ensure your emotional reactions are real, convincing and serious when it’s only you and the camera.
“The actor has to develop his body. The actor has to work on his voice. But the most important thing the actor has to work on is his mind.”
~ Stella Adler
Acting for Dummies
While acting can merely mean playing the role of ‘Oliver’, ‘Annie’ or ‘Hamlet’ in your school play, it can also be a career. We all know the names of famous actors. Society is obsessed with them. From the latest news about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to the massive film award events broadcasted on TV. The Academy Awards is a prime example – this ceremony recognises excellence in the United States film industry.
An actor may not necessarily wish to become a huge film star. Acting for the Camera may also involve becoming a local TV show presenter. Some of South Africa’s most well-known TV presenters include Jo-Ann Strauss and Fezile Mpela. Being in front of the camera can also involve acting in commercials on TV. All elements of acting include the training and skills that you may need to learn before simply showing up at a casting for the latest South African movie.
What Else Does an Actor Do?
If you studied drama in school or university and enjoyed it, you may want to consider pursuing a professional career in Acting for the Camera. Taking a course will provide you with a professional qualification and it will equip you with the skills you need to make you an eligible candidate. This opens up opportunities for television presenting as well as local or international casting for commercials and movies. You could even find yourself coaching people who wish to learn how to act in front of the camera.
Acting is every bit as much talent, as it is luck and hard work. Once an actor has been awarded a role, much of their time will be spent rehearsing (sometimes for hours on end), learning lines and assimilating their roles. Actors also work closely with directors and producers so it is important to be able to deal with different personalities.
Furthermore, actors will meet with agents and casting directors, read countless scripts and participate in many more unglamorous, behind-the-scenes administrative tasks. They often spend many exhausting hours on set. Some might even be required to move across the world to film on location, therefore a love of travel and a sense of adventure is needed in some situations.
There are a few situations where acting isn’t as great as it looks. Here are some scenarios you may find yourself in (and that you’ll need to push through to become a successful actor):
Actors may not always play likable characters.
They may encounter people who are not easy to work with.
On top of all that, not every actor becomes world-famous and incredibly rich. Many actors spend much of their time actively looking for castings and don’t have constant work.
These are just some of the things to consider when pursing an acting career. Still sound like your kind of gig?
Yes! How Can I Become a Professional Actor?
Becoming an actor can be a long road. There aren’t clear steps to take on the journey to become an actor as there are for qualifying as an accountant or teacher. However there are some general steps you can take towards a profession in acting:
1. Act in your School Productions
Often your acting career can begin in high school plays and musicals. Taking drama classes, whether part of your curriculum or in an after-school drama club. In these classes, you will be introduced to the skill of performing, how to act and the history of acting. You may gain experience in writing your own material, gain exposure to different characters, along with stage and costume design. By taking part in your high school productions, you will learn how to perform in front of a large audience and be involved in large productions. Regardless of whether you’re playing the lead role or working back stage.
2. Get Involved in Local Productions
Similar to the way that participating in your high school productions will help you gain experience, getting involved in productions outside of school will teach you a wide range of skills. A great way to do this is by participating in your local community’s productions. You also have the opportunity to get your name out into the world by making a good impression on people.
3. Get Loads of Experience
As a young adult, you’re always told that gaining experience will one day be very valuable for your CV. The same goes for building up an acting portfolio. Try act as often as you can. Take part in as many productions as you can and play as many roles as possible. Build up a portfolio which is full of all your performances, including theatre productions, commercials, working as an extra, music videos and anything else that’s relevant to your career.
4. Get Qualified
After school, you may want to consider getting a professional qualification in acting, post-production or theatre. Many universities in South Africa offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in performing arts and drama. Alternatively, if you have recently decided to pursue a career in acting and don’t have a full portfolio of work you’ve done, consider getting a Diploma or a Bachelor of Arts in Acting for the Camera.
Getting a BA or Diploma in Acting for the Camera
For many applying for a qualification is a big step and a proud one to say the least. You’re taking action and pushing yourself a step forward to where you want to be. Before you decide on pursuing a qualification, make absolutely sure you are certain about your decision and what the decision entails (e.g. whether or not you have funding).
If you’re ready to get a formal qualification in Acting for the Camera, City Varsity School of Media and Creative Arts might have the course for you.
Bachelor of Arts in Professional Acting for Camera
CityVarsity offers students a chance to pursue a BA in professional Acting for the Camera where you will learn more about live performance, stage fundamentals, improvisation, audition techniques, voice training, presenting, stage combat, poetry and prose interpretation. Their graduates perform in national and international feature films, TV shows, commercials and theatrical productions.
CityVarsity also offers their students opportunities to find employment as presenters on radio, television and corporate videos (a big industry in South Africa).
Diploma in Professional Acting for Camera
CityVarsity offers a diploma course for professional Acting for the Camera. This two-year diploma provides students with a thorough knowledge of the fundamentals of acting for film and television. The course places much focus on developing the practical, theoretical and technical aspects of live performance acting. This is the basis for a strong actor. Imagination and creativity are encouraged and you will be prepared for the realities of working as professionals in the film, television as well as live performance industries.
The course is fully integrated with CityVarsity’s other departments, providing the opportunity for acting students to collaborate with students in other disciplines on selected projects including film production, sound engineering, make-up, and film animation. This unique integration provides practical, hands-on experience in a professional, creative working environment which encourages teamwork.
As mentioned earlier in the article, acting is every bit as much talent, as it is luck and hard work. If acting is a career you’d like to pursue – go for it. There are many different an individual can go about becoming an actor or actress. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what works best for you, but essentially what it comes down to is hard work, determination, passion and a willingness to continue improving yourself on all fronts.
As Meryl Streep once said:
“acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different”. Acting requires you to have a deep understanding of a wide range of human experience and emotions. It is a profoundly challenging and fulfilling career which requires creativity, commitment and passion. If you’re a natural born actor, get out there – the world is your stage!”