No I didn't go to Drama School

Recently I have noticed a number of castings for no pay/expenses only productions that specify explicitly that only trained actors need apply.

This has angered me but not because I have an interest in applying for said jobs. Frankly if I had spent the last 3 years in training instead of working as an actor and came across such a casting for an unpaid production then I would be insulted.

Obviously there are other factors involved when considering a casting such as whether or not the company or directors are people you would particularly like to work with. Let's put all this aside for one moment.

I am interested to hear how other actors - trained and untrained alike feel about this.


  • 9 years ago
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Mark Kempner
Actor

I would not have not given it more than 5 seconds thought! The fact that an advert was even asking for such a requirementd tells me the group advertising were very much untrained!


  • 9 years ago
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Lee Ravitz
Actor

Clearly, the inspiration behind the postings is simply an example of ensuring that an unmanageable amount of applications does not have to be fielded in each case, which must be of concern to all companies who post breakdowns to CCP to some extent. Specifying the distinction that actors must have training as if it is a guarantee that they will automatically be more adept at the profession is a pretty arbitrary choice, but, I suppose, it is more likely that you will end up fielding a majority of candidates who are capable on the basis of these provisos (because they have been good enough to be drama school selected) rather than not. This doesn't, of course, address the question as to whether or not such discrimination should be considered valid in the first place, but it can, of course, cut all ways: many are the productions, for instance, which specify they will only take on actors for a job if they have no representation (generally a sign that they do not want an agency percentage cutting in on their budgeting!) and some, it must be said, specify that only actors with limited previous experience are desirable.

Still, I can't help but agree with Mark that a request for 'trained actors only' is a hollow sort of request when the company themselves aren't offering any money for the work! They are thus essentially asking for credientials to be offered on the one hand whilst declaring themselves to be a purely speculative set-up on the other! And so, the whole object defeats itself.

At a wider level in the business, it has to be said, there are always going to be some casting directors in the industry who are prejudiced in favour of taking on trained graduates for professional jobs, and some who are happy to see anyone provided they have suitable longevity to have proved themselves capable. But that has to be coped with in its place. That lo/no pay setups should be making such random distinctions really isn't worth losing any thought over, however.


  • 9 years ago
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I feel it may come across a little unfair to un-trained actors, like myself, but the main purpose could be a simple filtering process OR maybe the roles are demanding of a particular skill or technique. There is no way to know without asking.

I'd like to know what trained actors who have invested 3 years in drama school think of un-trained actors who turn up for the same castings as them because there is no specified experience required. You could argue everything in this world.

There are plenty of castings on here that have no specific requirements so we should be grateful for that.

D


  • 9 years ago
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Mark Kempner
Actor

Not once in over 22 years...have I been asked at a casting; "Where did you train?" No doubt I probably left a few wondering!!!

I think for musical theatre ....the subject would certainly be a large consideration before being asked to the interview. If I were casting a high level musical theatre project: I'd probably only consider "trained" actors for the initial interviews. That said…with Chris Moyles …staggeringly ….being invited to play Herod by a producer who got to where he is thanks not just to his great writing, but also thanks to the commitment and hard work of the trained casts he hired. …well anything goes these days huh?!

As an untrained scum bag myself: I let my reel (way overdue for an update) the other various clips I have on line, my measly CV such as it is…and my ugly Mug for all to see…..and my agents reputation. If none of that are good enough to get me in through a casting room door…well - so be it! That's their loss innit! Luckily - for whatever reason….I do get seen from time to time….and even confirmed for a job sometimes too!

Do I wish I had trained? As a former married farmer, then engineer, late starter, with a mortgage etc….I could not have made the time nor raised the fees, but…if given a choice…yes I think so, as long as it was with one of the well known and widely considered better drama schools on a 3 year course.

Has it ever held me back…….not that I am that aware of? Is there a stigma against those who have untrained….yes there probably is a minority….though obviously had I committed to 3 years of drama training, and spent 3 years of fees in the process, I'd probably be singing its worthiness very loudly too.

Before the post gets hijacked by the: I trained and so I am a better actor than you "minority" ….one should spare a thought for certain casting directors and or directors, who specifically do not want trained actors for all sorts of reasons! They do exist!!

As one director said to me: I'm more interested in what you are going to do....not what you have done! After all a credit on a CV means Jack Poo till put to the test!

One is reminded of the old sketch with John Cleese, and the two Ronnies!
Posh Voice: "I trained at the Rada…..and so I look down on him!"
Not so Posh Voice: "I trained at Arts Ed…and so I look up to him"
Common person "I never trained!"

Until such time this business decides actors must have a training licence to work (God help us) ….I'll just keep going till I get found out I guess!

Best to all....untrained and otherwise!!


  • 9 years ago
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Jenna Sharpe
Actor

I've weighed in on this subject many a time and at this point I usually remind people that training comes in many different forms. I trained as a psychologist and I genuinely believe that has helped me as an actor, as has learning on the job (even the none acting ones).

Martin if you have not done any sort of training whether that be classes or on the job, or even reading, then perhaps you shouldn't apply for said acting job but I suspect you probably do have training and are just interpreting the requirement too narrowly.

As for Drama School - Well any university/college type course has to follow an accredited syllabus and there has to be some kind of standardisation across institutions and teachers. The problem with this is that drama schools start to only teach the status quo. I would love to hear from a Drama School Teacher how much freedom they get in their interpretation of their program but I suspect that after years of teaching they have found whatever teaching method works for them and their pupils, meaning everyone that has that teacher gets schooled in a similar way.

One thing I have noticed when I have attended short courses and classes now I am older is I feel I have the experience to question what I hear. I know what works for me and what doesn't but if I had gone straight into drama school I am not sure I would have had the confidence to question or challenge what I heard. Some of the stuff you hear is utter bull but I would have taken it as gospel.

I do think drama school must be wonderful for exploring plays or characters in a 'safe' environment and getting to see how other people interpret the same scripts and characters. And also learning some useful character/movement/vocal exercises and making contacts and connections.


  • 9 years ago
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Michael Good
Actor

There's a fine line between maintaining standards and stagnating them, thats why anyone who's been in this business more than 5 minutes must know a drama school training is a guarantee of next to nothing. When I see an ad asking for 'trained actors only', I cant help imagining a group of kids fresh out of drama school themselves, trying to get some underfunded pipe dream off the ground, and I give them a wide berth.


  • 9 years ago
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Not to mention all the actors that have the equivalent of NCDT training, they just preferred to do it abroad.


  • 9 years ago
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Jamie Hawes
Actor

I think a lot of people have missed a point, just because you didnt go to drama school doesnt mean you dont have training, if you have been working on professional jobs for years despite having not been to drama school you have'on the job training' and more importantly experience which is a lot more useful than someone straight out of education.


  • 9 years ago
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I trained at a very well-respected drama school in New York. When I tried to join the Actors Guild I was very rudely told I obviously wasn't a real actress since I hadn't trained and should really "try to get some training before attempting to enter the industry" (when I'd been earning a living through acting for several years!) simply because non-UK drama schools are not NCDT and therefore apparently not considered "training" by some people. Ridiculous!


  • 9 years ago
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I was trained by acting coaches in studios in LA. That's what pretty much everybody does there; very few manage to go to college and get a degree in acting. I went to college, but majored in something else. Training is training; as long as it's good and you're good, this whole drama school thingy shouldn't matter. Chances are, the UK will catch up with LA and NY soon, just like they're doing with headshots (color vs b&w). In the US, they can't even advertise an ad that favors people from certain schools, they'd get sued in a second (unless it's a specific school event looking for alumni). Problem is, equity sucks (at least compared to SAG/AFTRA), and they've been following this type of mentality for a long time. Bottom line is, if you are professionally trained it shouldn't matter where or if you went to school, and I think the industry in the UK is starting to come around too. I wouldn't worry about some stupid ad; people who limit themselves so much miss out on so many great actors; chances are they'll regret sticking to that small niche. That's my opinion anyway.


  • 9 years ago
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Mark Kempner
Actor

Nice one Valentina! .....you are fast realising in the UK...we are still living in the 1960's rep theatre days....when there is barely any rep left if any! Equity Union the same!!

Change is taking place in the Union though…..there are many unsung heroes trying hard to bring Equity into the 21st Century…..but the change in tide is woefully slow. I for one, have nothing like the patience required to deal with old Union stalwarts who have are still holding on desperately to "the old days" ….but the tide is changing a bit I think, and we shoudl all thank those who are willing the chage to take place, and who are trying to modernise the union.

Crusty old Margaret Thatcher (i NEVER VOTED FOR HER btw!) in blowing apart the closed shop…..not a bad thing….but it went too far the other way and now pretty much anyone can join Equity if you are willing to pay the subs. Consequently, the Union is so weak compared to others…..so much of this sort of thing will go on for a good while longer. We still have 1000's of actors who can't even be botherd to join the union and simply cast a vote!!! However, if they perhaps saw a Union taking hatrder line against some of what goes on in the "real" world, I bet that would change as well.

You are also quite right about the add. An add of this nature, in the 21st century should not have even made it past the editors. Only trained actors??? ….when in fact, what the add could have said is: We are particularly interested in those with a good amount of professional experience. Wording it like that would interest actors who fit that bill, and would still not have excluded newer actors from applying either. To word it: Only trained actors etc…..simply smacks of amateurish production in any case!


  • 9 years ago
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I agree Equity regulations need to be updated. Residuals are non-existent, we should get paid if auditions are running late, they need to see at least 10+ people for each role out there, etc.; they should really follow SAG/AFTRA guidelines. As of right now, I don't see any reason to join Equity and pay any commission to them. I know you still get some benefits, but I don't think they offer enough compared to other unions.

As for the ads requiring actors from specific schools, yes it does sound very odd. The best film schools in the world are outside of Europe and are not included in that standard list, which BTW Spotlight and Equity use as well. Also, PERSONALLY, I have never understood how taking classes after classes about Shakespeare can be possible useful; even for those who only want to act in theater. They should train them on camera, for commercial, auditions, marketing, etc. as much as possible. They need to start teaching them useful stuff. Actors trained in studio and those who simply got training while working are far more prepared to work on set than drama school graduates. And I know there will be a lot of people in here who will disagree, but at the end of the day there's got to be a reason why most WORKING actors (I mean full time) did not go to drama school in Europe.

At the end of the day, wether you go to drama school or not, should not affect the way casting looks at you. Good training comes from many different places.


  • 9 years ago
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zzzzZZZ just lie and if they catch you say, hey~ thats my job!


  • 8 years ago
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Mark Kempner
Actor

welcome to CCP!! Professional actors don't count for much these days...because so many apply for these sorts of jobs!!!


  • 8 years ago
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Professional acting is when an actor is contracted & paid a fee for their time and services.


  • 8 years ago
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Hi fellow CCP folk, I never had any official drama training. Back in 1958 when I started out mainly playing music, experience was gained by watching other performers then rushing home as fast as my thirteen year legs would allow and practicing like mad ! I have always been fairly fierce about payment. No pay no play ! Over recent years have tended to put on our own productions where wages are costed in the business projection. Equity needs to stand firm about payment for work done, its the only way to eradicate productions who thrive on low pay/no pay. Best wishes to all in 2014 and happy acting !


  • 8 years ago
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Indeed a good debate... I made a point of getting into a west end musical because of my hard work and talent, despite not having gone to drama school - I did a university degree in music and drama but went straight into auditioning and learning through short courses and jobs, paid and unpaid. If you're good and determined and have the right attitude you'll get somewhere. Who wants to be left with a pile of debt straight of out college? It's getting seen and auditions that's more important and persistence....


  • 8 years ago
  • 17

I would say that they should be specifically targeting people who are starting out who don't have any experience or showreel material so it is a "learning on the job" experience.

I do do unpaid student films but to be honest, only ones that have an awesome script and are organised at the audition stage.

I trained and I spent a lot of time and money doing so. However, I think you'd have to be more than a little foolish to believe all trained actors are great and all untrained actors aren't. Case in point, worked with an AMAZING actor on a fim last week who had gone to evening classes. He wasn't just good at the acting either, he was a consummate professional on and offset.


  • 8 years ago
  • 18

Training?

I got "trained". Did it do me any good?
I have no idea. You only go to drama school once. I'll never have that experience again.

For me, either you can act, or you can't.

If acting is being real, I know loads of people who can act who've never trained. I know loads who've trained, but can't act. And obviously there's a load who trained and can act.

Me? I think I can act. I believe in myself when I do it; maybe it's deluded. Frankly I don't care. I love what I do, when I do it. If I'm acting with someone, I don't care where they trained or where. All I want to feel is if they can act or not. If they can't, heaven help. If they can, well, fun to be had.

I think that being an actor is a unique journey. So, whatever bridges we come to, we cross.

That applies to any role we have and any team we work with. My tutor said keep it simple. What's simpler than just letting things be as they are. What's more fun than the creative challenge?


  • 8 years ago
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In answer to your initial posting. It seems the industry is over subscribed in this country. It isn't only difficult for graduates out of Drama schools but also well known or seasoned actors, I have met and know a few who have mentioned this. We all have to strive in this competitive and cut throat industry. Directors,.producers, film makers all trying to get their projects realised. I'm a trained actor,.producer, writer and many other attributes that have nothing to do with this industry. I trained at Drama School and graduated in 98, worked and trained in Musical theatre before then, and through my experiences in this profession I have learnt alot. Whether being on a large budget commercial, TV show or no budget film, it has taught me collaboration and respect goes a long way for you as an actor. However having said that there has also been lots of abuse as companies with small budgets especially target the actor, mostly when unknown. Now what's good and what I advocate is if you are working on a no budget production for no pay, make sure an agreement is signed, covering your expenses and food and DVD copy. This is through experience.

So, yes, actors like other industries should be paid, however to get known, respected and grab experience in the Reel world, excuse the pun, then there is the necessity to grab that job to build experience and build profile. Me? I have done jobs for nothing, however would look at script first. Now, I would only do no pay with a percentage on a promising production with good script, crew and some good cast.


  • 8 years ago
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