Acting Advice: Online Acting Masterclass

Can you learn to act through online classes? Probably not. Can you learn something of value? Possibly. Will you? That’s down to you.

Students at Acting Coach Scotland learning their acting for camera skills on location.

Both Dustin Hoffman and Kevin Spacey have both featured in the Masterclass series. Both are experienced actors with long careers, and known for supporting younger actors as they aspire to become successful for themselves. Although if they really wanted to support young actors, these videos would be free to download.

I should say at this stage that one of my former clients features in Spacey’s masterclass, so I’m not entirely neutral on this one. I watched both Hoffman and Spacey’s masterclasses and also writer Aaron Sorkin’s on screenwriting for television.

Who Will Learn Most?

I believe that those who would learn most from the experience of these experienced performers are those with experience of performance. Beginners who no reference points in the world of acting, and will therefore struggle to connect a lot of the dots for themselves. For beginners, these video tuition sessions will become part of their knowledge and experience. So while you can’t ‘learn to act’ through these videos, you can learn how to develop the craft.

Do These Guys Make Good Teachers?

There’s no doubt that these guys are engaging. I could listen to Sorkin read his lunch order. The problem is a basic flaw with instruction as tuition. We know nothing until we know it for ourselves. That’s my firm belief. It isn’t until we’ve had to apply it for ourselves, it isn’t until we are aware of what makes good performance and what makes weak performance for ourselves, that we are able to discern the fundamental difference and act upon it. Plus, the unconsciously competent (those who are good but don’t really know why) rarely remember what it is likely to not know. A combination of those who no longer remember what is it like to be missing pieces of the puzzle, and those who can’t understand the puzzle until they have played with it for themselves — make it hard to learn to act under any circumstances.

Does That Mean You Can’t Learn From These videos?

Well, no, I do believe you can grow your knowledge and experence from online videos. Michael Caine’s Film Acting video is one of my favourites. It’s fantastic, and currently available for free on YouTube. But that’s learning simple technical things.

But then if you really want to grow from it — you got to put it into practice, as soon as possible. So that means making the knowledge your own.

In one of my own classes, I give students a copy of my Self Taping Guide. But then I immediately insist that they produce a Self Tape and send it to me within a week. Because even with all the information there in front of them, many people will not do it right. They need a chance to try and fail — or what we should call practice — they need a chance to practice.

You can learn from lots of sources, but unless you get the opportunity to put it into practice and to reflect upon the success of that practice, we can’t really grow from it.

Thankfully, these masterclasses often involve practical elements too.

Should You Buy These Masterclasses?

If you think that buying this and listening to their sage advice will make you as wildly successful as they are, don’t waste your money.

If you think that you can listen, reflect, apply, reflect, listen again. Then it might be worth the ninety bucks after all.

These masterclass are without doubt cool. It’s good, no great to hear advice and stories from the horse’s mouth — especially when these horses happen to be such thoroughbreds. How much you can learn from them will depend on you as an individual. But you will no doubt enjoy the experience nonetheless.