I’m guessing there are some aspiring, or even veteran, actors who may not have been informed yet that online acting classes is a real thing. Not only that, but the online acting class scene is thriving, with more teachers, businesses and students going this route.
Apart from the smaller acting classes online world can offer, we’ve seen some major names provide their expertise for budding artists. Just to name a few:
- Dustin Hoffman
- Jason Alexander
- Kevin Spacey
If anybody was skeptical of online acting classes before, after these huge A-list actors offered their hand (for a very good salary, I’m sure), more people started taking online training more seriously.
I have personally tried several online acting classes, and had different experiences – from absolutely terrible to “my mind has been blown.” In the future, I’ll try to write a review for each one of them. But for now, my aim with this article is to provide you more details on what an online acting classes looks like and what are the pros and cons of taking acting classes online.
Online Acting Classes: Are They Worth It?
What Are Online Acting Classes?
This probably doesn’t need to be explained, but due to how unconventional this term feels, I’ll give this a quick stab.
First of all, I need to clarify that what we’re covering here are specifically recorded classes in the video form where you get to see a teacher coaching, either directly into the camera, or working with students while you get the feeling of participation while observing.
If you Google “online acting classes,” I’ve seen tons of websites that walk you though the acting craft in a written form. I’m not a fan of this particular type of learning the craft, and that’s not what I’m covering in this article.
Online acting classes offered in a video form are the diffuse, ambiguous equivalent to “normal” acting classes, but you get to observe the teacher online. These classes can be free (which is rare, unless you find something on YouTube), but usually come at a single-payment price.
From what I’ve seen, there are only a handful of truly good quality online acting lessons that are worth looking into.
An online acting class will not provide you with any certification or degrees (or at least I’m not yet aware of a school that does that). Similar to your regular for-profit acting classes taught in groups, the reason you take them is to learn some advice from a professional, and that’s about it.
Where Can You Take Acting Classes Online?
After a lot of research, I was able to find only a small number of websites with online acting courses that have any potential to be helpful to actors. Here’s a list of them:
- iActing Studios
- Udemy Courses
Not an impressive amount, is it? Let me quickly introduce you to each one, starting with the least useful ones.
Udemy courses. There’s more than one acting related class on Udemy. If you search, you’ll find them. Unfortunately, all of that is basically theory from unknown people. Not only are they not acting coaches or experienced names, I have doubts they even have any credits. I would discount this one right away.
iActing Studios. Now this is a step in the right direction. I haven’t taken their paid classes, but I’ve had access to some free stuff to look around. Jason Alexander is their flagship acting coach, and his class, as well as a few others I was able to access on the site, are worth taking a look at. You can also get a 2-hour trial on the site.
MasterClass. These guys are at the forefront of online teaching at the moment. They were able to bring the biggest names from many different parts of the industry – anything from dancing and singing to filmmaking, acting and writing. I’ve tried several courses on MasterClass myself, and was quite impressed with the quality of teaching.
If any one of you are interested, please let us know in the comments below and I’ll write an extensive review for Jason Alexander’s class, which I took, as well as four (yes, four!) courses I took at MasterClass. Those include Dustin Hoffman’s and Kevin Spacey’s acting classes, Werner Herzog’s filmmaking class and Aaron Sorkin’s screenwriting class.
Should You Take Online Acting Classes?
This all comes down to your expectations and what your goals are from taking acting lessons online.
First of all, if you go with something like a course from MasterClass, it’s going to cost you $99 per course. For a starving actor, this is quite a bit of money.
Furthermore, you need to consider that what you get is mostly some “secret” techniques those names teaching you will reveal, as well as some helpful advice, but you will NOT learn acting simply from taking online acting classes. In order to become a good actor, you need to be doing, i.e. taking group classes and practicing yourself.
With that being said, I did learn a whole lot from some of these online acting classes, and I do think there’s a good reason one may want to consider them, provided that you: (a) can afford them, and (b) do not substitute them for a real acting class.
Here are some of the benefits from taking acting classes online:
1. Access: Get to “work with” some of the known names
Now, you don’t get to actually work with people like Dustin Hoffman, Jason Alexander or Kevin Spacey, but let’s face it, an online acting class like this is probably as close you and me will ever come to working with them.
All of three of these famous actors share a great deal of information, some of which I’ve never heard before. What sold me on these the most is that they are very good at explaining exactly how they do it so that you can do repeat that yourself once you go to an actual acting class.
2. Convenience: Choose when to study acting
The “beautifully suffering, broke artist” archetype of a struggling actor can be shoved aside. In enters the modern day multitasker who works a 9-5 day job at an IT company or has a chaotic schedule as a waiter.
Attending acting classes online means you have time for everything else in your life, the good and the bad alike. Not only does this make undertaking these courses a possibility for many, it also is a financial bonus, as many don’t have the luxury of cutting down on their working hours.
I’m out. These two are the only reason you should take an acting class online. Not much, is it?
Why You Should NOT Take Acting Classes Online
Once again, it all comes down to your perspective, individual situation and what you’re trying to achieve by taking these courses.
1. You do not get any academic credit or merit
Online courses do not equal college, but neither do regular acting classes. Nevertheless, I feel it’s important to point this out for complete green actors who are just looking to start training in this craft. If that’s you, then let me quickly explain that only colleges/universities and drama schools will provide you with acting degrees.
There’s also no such thing as “spicing up your acting résumé.” If fact, I would probably even try to avoid putting an online acting class on your resume; I doubt this will be looked at in a positive light, and people may not take you seriously.
2. The money issue
This is the biggest “disadvantage” of taking online acting classes as far as I’m concerned. For a MasterClass course, you’re paying $99. Personally, like it was worth it (which is the reason I took four of them at $99 a pop). But yet again, the true meaning of this price really boils down to what your goals are.
If you’re looking to widen your acting horizons with the help of some experienced actors who have made it in the industry, but not spend years doing so, then paying that price is not as great a sacrifice as the endless zeroes on a uni tuition.
Then again, some people considering online acting courses might be concerned with what type of value they will be getting for their money. That’s the main reason I’d like to review some of those classes and explain readers of Acting in London what you get out of them.
3. Requires effective scheduling and time management
I suppose this can be mentioned as a potential con of taking acting classes online.
There’s a learning curve for everything. You start off with motivational words fluffing around like Pinterest posts in your head, and then one day, the rose-tinted glasses are abruptly torn off. By your own laziness.
Attending online classes will demand of you not only independence, but also effective time management skills. None of these courses have deadlines, so you’ll have all the time in the world to complete them, but if you don’t set any time limits for yourself, then it’s very likely that the course earns a place on the list of things you never finished.
There’s no instant cure to procrastination, but checking out sites on how to improve your studying techniques can be of help.
4. Internet skills are a must
Yes, I’m picking out the straws here, but I want to make sure you have a long enough list of reasons not to take a class just so you can be definitely sure if you do decide to take them. Although rumor has it Wi-Fi is now counted as a human right in some countries, not everyone can master the interwebs. Still.
This limits online courses to a certain – although admittedly very large – demographic (what, like 99%?) However, what’s more important is that far from everyone prefers digital technology as a pedagogical tool.
Acting is, when it comes down to it, a very social field of work, and you learn it kinesthetically by doing. So you won’t learn it online. It’s clear that in a way, the physical as well as social spirit of acting is sucked out from the online learning environment.
For the restless, I would like to repeat that the best solution is to simply combine real life acting classes with online courses and doing the work (on set or theater stage), and then see what works best for you.
Have You Taken an Online Acting Class?
I’m interested to hear thoughts of those who have tried either one of the above mentioned online acting classes. If you have tried any of these, please share your opinion and observation with us in the comments below.
Moreover, if you’re aware of any other good acting classes taught online that are worth taking a look at, mention those. We will include them in this article for other people to peruse.