Friday, 19 November 2010

Tip #54 Becoming a successful actor

(An interview with actor Jos Lawton)

In part two of an interview with Jos Lawton, who won a Best Actor award (International Filmmaker Festival, 2009) for his role as John Miller in Ambleton Delight, we explore reasons for becoming an actor and some general acting tips.

What advice would you offer those thinking about becoming an actor?
First of all, decide if you want to do it just as a hobby, or professionally. Think about why you want to be an actor. What motivates you and excites you about acting? If you want to do it professionally, you have to really, REALLY want it more than anything else. Consider how much of a priority it is in your life – if you think it might get in the way of your social life, other work commitments, drinking habits etc, then I advise you to pursue another career, and enjoy acting as a hobby.

What if you want it to be more than just a hobby?
If you think that acting could very possibly be the most exciting, challenging and rewarding job you could ever have, then throw yourself in with total conviction. Invest in yourself and get training at a drama school. Here in Brighton we are lucky to have an excellent school called the Academy of Creative Training where I trained for 2 years (as did several other Ambleton Delight cast members). In addition to drama school, immerse yourself in movies and theatre, plays and scripts, and books about actors and acting.

What about those interested in screen work?
It’s essential to familiarise yourself with film and screen techniques, as drama school training will usually only provide an introduction to this, rather than go into serious detail. After completing my training, I was aware that I needed more experience in this area, and there were several resources that I found particularly helpful: First was Patrick Tucker’s book ‘The Secrets of Screen Acting’ which is a veritable goldmine of practical advice and techniques, as is Michael Caine’s book ‘Acting in Film’. Also, the workshop run by the director Andrew Higgs, called ‘The Alchemy of Screen Acting’ – again, this comprises really useful and practical advice, and you will get great quality showreel footage from it too. I landed the role in Ambleton Delight just over a year after finishing drama school, and I feel strongly that I would have been much less prepared for the demands of a lead role in a feature film without those resources.

Any general acting tips?
  • Be spontaneous, open and flexible.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Be fearless.
  • React truthfully.
What should actors not do?
  • Waste time or drop your concentration on set or in rehearsals.
  • Dwell on negativity, whether due to lack of work, or dissatisfaction with the acting work you are doing.
  • Be late for work. Ever!
  • And don't forget to remember why you love being an actor and above all ENJOY IT!

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