Recently, I was on the panel for Leeds Film Festival where there was a lengthy Q&A session. One of the topics we were discussing was whether actors should go to full-time drama school or not.
The answer is… Well… There isn’t a yes or no answer.
It depends on many different factors, and the decision has to be up to you, but here are some pros and cons to help you decide.
- Amazing experience – To get to spend 3 years of your life focusing on acting, and being surrounded by others on the same mission as you is priceless!
- You’ll learn a lot about yourself – Through meeting different people and listening to their ideas and stories, the acting exercises, trust when playing scenes (the list goes on) you’ll come to find you’ll learn about yourself and others, which is invaluable.
- The training is intense – Normally working 8am-6pm, some schools work you even harder. It’s not often you get to act for this amount of time, it’s a blessing!
- You will make a lot of contacts – There is no doubt that while you are there you will make contacts that can help propel your career after you graduate. Especially if you make the most of your showcase – and the schmoozing that comes after it!
- You are more likely to be booked for work when you graduate- While you don’t NEED to have a full time drama school on your resume, it does help and you will be more likely to be signed up by a good agent and book work.
- The best qualification you will get in acting comes from an accredited drama school.
- Top agents attend the final year showcases to seek fresh talent to represent.
- You might not get in – The volume of applicants is incredibly high. If you want to go down this route, you must be willing to persevere and not get disheartened if it doesn’t work out the first time.
- There are no guarantees – Just like any course in education, it is how you utilize your learning and put in the extra work. There are plenty of graduates who do not make it in the acting world when they leave. Be hungry and be prepared to give it your all.
- You won’t be able to work while you are training – You will be dedicating all of your time to your course for 3 years, whereas if you train part time, you can start working as soon as you feel ready.
- It just might not be for you – try going to open days at different drama schools and see what they have to offer. If you don’t get a good vibe, then it’s probably not a good fit.
- Not enough preparation for the business side of acting.
Another option is to train part-time. This option also has pros and cons which are listed below to help you decide on the right move for you.
- You don’t have to wait until you finish your course to start working, as long as you have your marketing materials, you can start whenever you are ready.
- It costs FAR less to go down this route.
- You can train around your current job and other commitments.
- You can choose how much time you want to dedicate to your acting.
- 3 years of formal training will look better on your resume.
- It’s easier to get distracted and sucked back into so-called ‘normal’ life.
- You need to be able to rely on your own focus, and have a great work ethic to motivate yourself to do – what you need to do, whilst fitting it all around daily life.
- Many actors who go down this route seriously underestimate the investment of time, money and energy needed to make a name for themselves as an actor.
You weren’t born to be ordinary… You were born to shine!
Eirian Cohen | Founder of Northern Star Acting and co-producer of ESG Media, LTD.