I got a Twitter PM from someone who read my blog and wanted to know how they could get good film acting tips and classes when they don’t live near a big city.
I know for a fact that there are some really good acting coaches in smaller cities and towns – Twila Barnett’s WACT studio in Weatherford, Texas (population 27,769) has produced some great actors, including her son Bug Hall (The Little Rascals, Honey We Shrunk Ourselves, Hercules, The Big Green, any of the CSI‘s, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, Castle, & over 85 other films).
But if your town doesn’t have a film and TV acting coach — or even if it does — you might want to consider online classes. A lot of acting coaches will offer private one-on-one lessons online, via Skype or some other video chat service. Backstage has a huge database of reputable coaches who offer online classes.
You can even take an online acting class from Oscar (American Beauty) and Emmy (House of Cards) winning actor Kevin Spacey. Like most online teachers, Spacey charges a fee ($90) for his online acting class. That’s a pretty low cost for everything you get in the class, including a downloadable book. (A private lesson with one of my coaches here in Dallas will cost $75-100 per hour.) But some of the best online acting class videos and tips are free.
One of my acting coaches, Cathryn Hartt, is an amazing acting teacher. She’s a graduate of the world famous Juilliard performing arts conservatory in New York City, and has an extensive stage, film, and commercial resume of her own. But you may know her sister’s name better – her sister is Morgan Fairchild, who’s on the board of SAG-AFTRA (the actor’s union) and is an Emmy and Golden Globe nominated television actress. I’m not going to bore you with a long list of all the actors and actresses with names you’d know who have studied with Cathryn, but I will tell you that she is amazing – she can kick your butt over something one minute, then have you laughing and feeling as if you can do anything the next.
Hartt and Soul studio, Cathryn Hartt’s company, offers online classes and private lessons, but also publishes an amazing series of absolutely FREE “how to” videos for kid and teen actors. There’s a new one nearly every week. Here’s a link to her YouTube Channel – even if you have a good acting coach, her videos can show you things you need to learn. For instance, here’s her video called 3 Tips for a Professional Kid.
And here’s one video that every actor needs to see, called Stop Hand Acting! If you don’t watch any other online acting video, watch this one. It’s so important in auditions!
Amy Jo Berman was Vice President of Casting at HBO for years, and has cast over 150 films, mini-series, and series. Now she’s an acting coach, and you can take her classes or workshops in person or online, sign up for private lessons, or subscribe to her YouTube channel for free Tips On Acting videos.
One of the things that you’ll find on her channel that can be really helpful if you are new to the entertainment business are basic tips on how the business works. For example, here’s her video for people who are looking for their first agent: 3 Things to Prep for an Agent or Manager Meeting
I’m sure that there are a lot of other free and low-cost resources out there for kid and teen actors who don’t live near a big city — or even for those who do, but may not be able to afford top-notch coaching.