Film School Confidential: An Actor’s Perspective

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Pursuing a degree in film usually isn’t high on the priority list for those who’ve been bit by the acting bug.  If a degree is pursued at all, actors usually go in as Theater or Psychology majors.  Of course, there’s always the option to forgo college, head straight to Hollywood and land yourself an agent and subsequent auditions. If you need dramatic training, there are plenty of acting school and workshops in Los Angeles, such as the Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theater.

This is the route Joshua Tuggle chose when he moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of his acting career.  Surprisingly it was one of his acting instructors that suggested that pursing a degree in film, particularly screenwriting, would help him advance his acting skills, thereby advancing his career.

Which film school did you choose and why?

For undergrad, I decided to go to CSUN (Cal State University Northridge) because their screenwriting program has a great reputation.  And it’s in the [San Fernando] Valley, which allowed me to travel to an audition anywhere in the city and get back to school if I needed to.  I’m going to National University’s MFA Film Studies program, which is online and they have a physical campus in Los Angeles.

Were you involved in any student film projects?

No, because I really didn’t have an extra time to work on student projects.  I was already getting acting work on a regular basis.

What was your first acting job?

My first commercial was for Pizza Hut, but I also did some work on for the MTV dating reality show Parental Control.

How has your screenwriting degree helped your acting career?

Screenwriting has helped me develop a stronger eye for roles with well-developed characters.  Those roles are more fun and more challenging.  Understanding story structure and a character’s needs and wants helps me determine how exactly to play that character.

What words of advice would you give to a future film student?

Once you get into Hollywood, they really don’t care where you come from; they care about your work.  So use your film school experience to develop the work ethic the top brass is looking for.  And those that want to be Directors should endeavor to understand actors and screenwriting.  Maybe minor in theater.  Really understand the structure, story breakdown and character arcs that you learn in screenwriting.  You’ve got to know how to tell a good story to make a good movie.

Get information on film production degrees by using the form on this page.  School representatives will guide you through the process and answer any questions you might have.

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