So you want to be an actor? How do you start? Student films is a great way, but sometimes SOME students aren’t the most prepared BECAUSE THEY ARE STUDENTS – they are barely learning to be film makers, and doing films requires a lot of time, a good team, knowledge on equipment (lighting + sound included = SUPER important), a good script, and GOOD ACTORS of course.
I have done numerous student films in the past, and some were good and others were really bad. Some students films I never even got the footage for it! From my experience, one of the BEST WAY on knowing if the student team is prepared is when they call you a lot to update you with schedules, time slots, wardrobe, AND when they ask you if have any food allergies. To me this means THEY ARE ON IT and they are getting down to details! Asking what you will be eating on set is very important because if the actor is hungry, he/she won’t perform well. Hence, their film won’t be good to watch. The devil is in the DETAILS.
So all I can advise is, if they seem messy from the beginning (especially on the phone), DON’T DO IT! It will be pointless – you probably won’t even get the clip of the film anyway because they might not even take the time to cut and edit it. Plus, the “student director” will probably NOT be prepared enough to even direct you as an actor, so you won’t be able to get the practice that you need on set.
When choosing which student film to apply to, I would advise to ANALYZE the breakdown. Look for students whom are doing their thesis project or MFA students that are working on their last film that will get them to graduate because by this time they have been concentrated for at least 4 years in school and they will have plenty of direction from their professors. Colombia University + NYU (If you live in NYC) have plenty of these kind of breakdowns.
Moreover, these students are able to borrow really good equipment from school so their projects will LOOK quality. Lastly, don’t worry about your inexperienced “bad acting”. The students will make sure your bad scenes will be cut out because that is a bad reflection on them. Either way, by this time, these students are seasoned enough to KNOW if you will be able to play the part or not; So if you get a student film of this kind, BE HONORED & be proud of yourself. Def ALWAYS learn your lines, break down the character etc. I use the Rehearsal App to memorize my lines.
Below is a FUNNY web series called “An Actor Unprepared” showing the worst case scenario for a student film. It was written by Gian Marco Soresi, produced by 1909 Productions. All of the actors on this series are really funny, so enjoy!