At present, SAG-AFTRA has 160,000 actors, but how many of them are big? Less than 5 percent!
So the truth is calling yourself an actor is not enough. You have to keep improving to be the best in the entertainment business. So how to get better at acting?
The best way to improve at acting is to practice, perform, read, watch and live more. Here we will look at some of the best ways to do these things while keeping your goal and needs in mind.
How To Get Better At Acting At Home?
The best way to improve your acting is to join acting classes and workshops. But how do you get better at home?
What would you be able to do at home to improve your acting?
Here are the following things that your should do:
1. Have Acting Exercise Routine
Just like you have an exercise routine for the gym, you need to have a routine to work on your exercises.
There are many acting exercises that you can do regularly.
You can start with warming up your body and senses. After that, continue warming up your vocal cords.
Sometimes meditation or just focusing on your breath helps warm up your senses.
Once your body is completely tuned, start doing some scene work or monologue.
This is just an example. You can create your routine based on the things you want to work on.
2. Work On the Movement
For an actor, having a free and reactive body is important.
Even if there are no words to say, you must be able to express emotions just with your movement.
You can use many techniques to improve your movements, such as the Alexander, Jacques Lecoq, the Williamson, and many more.
You must incorporate some movement exercises into your daily acting routine.
Also, it would be really useful to dedicate a space for these exercises in your home.
Choose a corner or room that has no furniture. You should be able to move around and stretch your hands without bumping into things.
3. Practice Monoglues / Scenes
You need to play as many characters as possible to get better at acting. And for that, you don’t have to wait for a gig.
You can prepare a scene or monologue every week.
Out of seven days in a week, work on the piece for six days and perform in front of friends and family or record it on the seventh day.
The idea behind practicing a scene or monologue per week is to get into the habit of preparing for a character.
Try to prepare for different types of characters and scenes so that you have some idea of tackling each type of character.
4. Read A Lot
Imagination is a huge part of acting. Nothing makes imagination stronger than reading.
I suggest reading a lot of fiction material. It will stretch your imagination.
Also, read a lot of scripts of famous movies that you love. Just go to Daily Script and search for it.
And when you read any material, just give yourself time to imagine. Try to imagine even the smallest details of the scene.
If you want, you can write down the details in a notepad so that you can review them.
5. Work On Your Voice
Another important aspect of acting is the voice. Just like a musician works on his voice every day, the actor should also work on his voice.
When you are working on your voice, the first thing you want to work on is clarity and rhythm. Learn a small piece of lines and try speaking it. You can also record it so that you can review it.
Also, just like you practiced working on different characters, you should also try working on different dialects.
Having a hold on different dialects is a great advantage for an actor. You will be able to land auditions for different types of gigs just because you have different dialects on your resume.
How To Be A Better Actor On Camera?
Above, we have discussed different things you should do to get better acting, but if you strive to be in tv or movie actor, you should be comfortable with the camera.
Not just comfortable, you should be aware of camera angle, framing, and lighting.
When you start working with the camera every day, awareness of the camera becomes second nature.
So to get a better actor on camera, start working with these exercises:
1. Record Yourself In Real Life
If you closely observe all the famous actors, they look so comfortable in front of the camera. Sometimes they are not even aware that the camera is on.
To get better in front of the camera, you need to be comfortable in front of it.
The best way to do that is to get maximum exposure.
You should start shooting your daily life or routine. Just set up the camera on the stand and do whatever you like doing.
You don’t have to prepare something or even act. Just shoot some parts of your daily life.
You can shoot yourself cooking, working, exercising, playing, or even reading.
However, I suggest avoiding shooting it like a vlog. Don’t hold the camera in your hand. Set it on the stand and keep it rolling while you are doing your activity.
The core idea behind doing this is to even forget if there is a camera.
2. Shoot Your Practices
Another great habit to have as an actor is to record your exercises or rehearsals.
It’s another way to get comfortable in front of the camera. Also, you will have great awareness of different angles and shots.
Another advantage of recording your practices is that you can review them later.
You can set up a camera permanently in the corner where you practice acting.
You just have to make it a habit of switching it on whenever you start practicing.
4. Do Short Films
The best way to learn acting for the camera is to involve yourself in some kind of project.
Short films are a great way to gain exposure.
Just ask around if someone is making an independent short film. If not, you can plan one with your friends who want to be a filmmaker.
I had friends with whom we used to plan short films every 15 days. We used to pitch in money to produce the short film.
If you don’t know such people personally, you can look out for unpaid independent projects.
Facebook is also a great source for finding independent projects. Join film-making groups that constantly post audition calls for the short film.
How To Get Better At Acting Without Lessons?
Acting classes and workshops are great ways to improve your acting. But they can be expensive sometimes.
Especially in a phase where you are struggling to pay house rent, going to an acting class is no choice.
If you are in such a situation, you can do the following things:
1. Get Feedback From Friends
The best way to learn is to learn from your mistake. But with acting, we are often not aware of our mistakes. So we need someone to point out that to us.
So make it a habit of getting feedback from your friends and family.
Whatever you prepare, it may be an audition scene, monologue, or one-person play, perform it once in front of your friends the family.
If you cannot perform it in front of them, shoot it and send it to them. You won’t believe that often our audience has the best advice for us compared to an acting coach or teacher.
Our theater group made it a practice to have a feedback session after every show. This helped us learn what worked and what didn’t.
2. Join Actor Groups
The best way to learn is to learn from someone else’s experience. I am highly active on social media groups. Be it Facebook, Reddit, or acting forums.
Ask doubts on these platforms, and other actors like us are more than happy to share experiences and views.
I personally like Reddit because you can get answers quickly compared to other platforms.
3. Prepare Small Plays
You might have heard the saying, “experience is the best teacher.” If you are not able to go to an acting class, why not just get the experience of playing characters.
Collaborate with the other actors like you and prepare something which you can perform in front of an audience.
You can book a studio or something for your play and invite an audience.
We used to do 15-20 minutes of play every 15 days. There was no ticket, so anyone interested used to come and watch it.
You can also do the same. Prepare small plays with a minimum budget and invite the audience for free.
And as I mentioned earlier, get the audience’s feedback after each show. This feedback will be your acting lesson.
When you go through the whole process of preparing something, not just the feedback, you tend to get the idea of your strength and weakness as an actor.
An important tip to remember is to tape our rehearsals too so you can review them later.
4. Learn From Books And Videos
If you are not able to go to an acting class, learn from books and videos. There are plenty of acting books that you can read.
Choose the one technique you like the most and read all the books related to it.
After reading, you can start practicing the exercises from the book.
This is probably the easiest way to start acting.
If you are not a big fan of reading, there are plenty of videos on the internet about acting.
You can even buy an acting course from Masterclass or Udemy. I personally prefer Masterclass because you get to learn from the popular actors.
And if you don’t want to spend, you can just go to youtube and search for acting videos. However, search about learning different acting techniques then searching for something like “ how to cry on camera.”
Learn the acting technique, and eventually, you will know how to get the required emotions.
How To Test Your Acting Skills?
It is important to test yourself and understand where you stand to get better at acting.
When you review your performance, you understand the areas you need to work on.
Here I am going to provide different ways that will help you test your acting skills:
1. Be The Character In Public
Preparing a character is a major part of acting. And when you put that character in a different situation, you get the performance.
So if you want to test your acting skill, work on a character and be the character in public.
If you are able to live as a character in the real world, you can say that you have good acting skills.
Choose a character from a play, movie, or tv series.
Take 3-4 days to prepare a character. You have to work on every aspect of the character. Be it physicality, psychology, or sociology.
You don’t need to remember lines or do specific things. Just be the character.
To prepare a character, you can use my character development worksheet.
Once you have prepared the character, go to a restaurant, mall, or even subway and interact with strangers.
Please avoid going to restaurants or bars where people already know you. It has to be a new place where no one knows you.
Spend at least 1-2 hours as a character.
When you interact with people, talk and move just like the character.
Try not to break character for these few hours.
If you want, you can ask your fellow actor to come along. But ask him to sit away from you so that he or she can observe you and provide feedback when you get back home.
This is probably the best possible way to test your skill as an actor.
2. Do Opposite Character
Whenever you get a chance to pick and prepare for a character, choose the one opposite to your nature.
Picking opposite characters makes you think differently and takes your out of your comfort zone.
And observe how you react to this completely unknown territory.
From my experience, it will definitely stretch your acting skills.
You will need a strong base as an actor to tackle such a situation.
3. Don’t Shy Away From Impromptu Performance
Improvisation is a huge part of an actor. You might have seen how good some actors are when they are put on the spot. Without preparation or script, they are able to bring out amazing performances.
This comes from practice. You need to practice improvisation whenever you get a chance.
You will always be put on the spot as an actor. Never shy away from it.
Say yes to impromptu performance!
No, how badly you perform, just do it. And with time, you will observe that you have developed a sense for improvisation.
No matter how good you are as an actor, you have to keep learning as an actor. I have outlined every possible way to get better at acting. You have to make sure you keep working on it.