Written by Graeme Petrie
You have decided to become an actor. Now you need to figure out how! Searching online can be a daunting experience. All the websites, schools, and locations etc. Finding just the right acting school, one that suits your needs can seem like a massive task. Here are 10 quick steps to short listing your top acting schools.
Question #1: Are you an accredited school?
This may be one of the most important questions to ask. Why? Colleges, Universities and other Institutions of higher learning seek accreditation to establish credibility. Accreditation validates a school’s credentials by having met the governments criteria. It also means that your chances of getting student aid is better with an Accredited school.
Question #2: When was your school established?
You don’t want your acting career to be dealt any setbacks. Many new schools popping up these days, it’s important to know the history of the school you are considering. A good way to check this is to read the online reviews on sites such as Google Reviews.
Question #3: Does your school specialize in teaching acting?
If you are looking at a Vancouver acting school, many offer a wide range of programs. When looking at the program menu, many appear to be completely unrelated. This holds especially true for media arts schools. You are likely to find everything from Video Game Design, Special Effects Make Up, Modelling ,VFX, Graphic Design and oh yes…Acting. If you want to be an Actor, you want to be at an Acting training specific school.
Question #4: What are your instructors’ backgrounds?
Most Acting schools will state their instructors are “industry-experienced professionals” and list off their past accomplishments to impress the onlooker. However, look a little closer at the dates of those production credits and you may find that some have not worked in the industry for some time. Lame! No one wants to work with people who are no longer current. What this means for you is that their teachings may not be current and the industry contacts they used to have may no longer exist (or be relevant) in the industry of today. Things change at the speed of light in this industry and only those actively immersed in the industry can remain up to date. Ideally you want to find a school whose instructors are working in the industry now, meaning they are regularly auditioning, working on productions, and teach at the school.
Question #5: Do I have to audition to be accepted?
If you are entering into a full time Acting Program, picking the best one means you will most likely have to audition. NO acting school of repute will accept a student into a Diploma or Degree program without an audition of some type. You may be requested to perform a live audition or simply send in a video clip of yourself performing a monologue or scene you have been sent.
Question #6: What is the ratio of Domestic vs International students in your acting program?
What if you are in an acting class and the people you are working with don’t speak English? This is why this question is one that many private post-secondary schools don’t like to be asked!!! They can’t get enough enrolment so they put “anyone” in the program. The reason is that, in the competitive world of private education, some schools may set less demanding English language requirements in order to fill the class. In some schools, you may find that over half of those taking the program are international students, whose ability to communicate in English will vary greatly. This may affect you and your training as an actor.
Question #7: Are there any Productions currently shooting in your area?
If you want to get involved in being a working professional actor, you must be in an area where you can market your skills. Vancouver has the largest number of network shows filming outside of the US.
Question #8: Can I apply for any scholarships?
Most schools offer acting scholarships of some kind, the information regarding them can often be hard to find on their website or their advertising. Be sure to always ask what, if any, scholarships are offered and the requirements to apply. Usually schools will use a sliding scale when awarding scholarship and the amount awarded will depend on the quality of the application and any required submissions that must be included alongside.
Also, note that it is unlikely that any scholarship award will cover the entire cost of the tuition.
Question #9: How much is the total program fee (including application fee, tuition, cost of books and supplies)?
This is an answer you will want to receive in writing since many schools may have hidden program fees and/or costs for books and supplies. The cost for books and supplies can add up and for some programs, the total can be over a thousand dollars! Additionally, schools may expect you to pay for transportation related costs to and from any field trips. So, make sure to ask about the total costs for the program, including these fees to get an accurate picture of what you’ll be spending (and need to save for school). When applying for any student loans, you will need to report the exact amount of related costs (books, supplies etc).
Question #10: How are YOU going to help ME to become an actor?
This is THE most important question of all!!
How do you get me into the industry? Do they introduce you to Agents, Casting Directors, Directors, Producers etc. You should and need to get an opportunity to audition for all of them.
While no acting school can ever “guarantee” or “promise” you’ll become a TV or Film star, schools can still do a lot on the back end of your program to ensure you are well prepared to meet industry by helping you best prepare your professional package.
A professional Actor Package should contain:
Headshots, Resume, Cover Letter, Demo Reel, Industry Contacts, Training and Skills. All those and much more.