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Acting Class Descriptions

IFA 101 - Introduction to Film Acting 

This course introduces and explores major American acting techniques from Stanislavski to Sanford Meisner and others. Students learn the fundamentals of method acting while developing a respect and understanding of what acting is. They explore the craft in classroom exercises that develop a technique where emotions are translated in a truthful way in imaginary circumstances. Students learn the importance of relationships in acting, listening, reacting, motivation, stakes, behavior, psychology, doing and acting instinctively rather than intellectually. Every character the student will ever perform starts with their own unique personality and individual life experiences. This course enables students to find what is available in them to use for each of the roles that they perform.  Students begin performing in front of the camera in the first week of class.  Performance and playback will be done in class with a critique from the instructor.

VAM 102 - Voice and Movement for the Camera

Your voice and emotions live on your every breath. Learning to breathe properly increases your ability to perform. In this course, you learn breathing and voice techniques that increase your sense of calm, infuse subtlety and power into your performances and allow you to work for hours without worry of vocal fatigue. Communication is 80% non-verbal. You learn to use your body to express your character's feelings. This is done with body language, vocal inflections and facial expressions. Since the camera magnifies these, they have to be organic and real for the audience to understand and believe them. You learn how to express your character's emotions without words, because in film the story is told mostly with pictures. Movement exercises give you an increased sense of what your body can and cannot do and how a simple motion can convey enormous emotional depth. 

CSS 201 - Cinematic Scene Study 

The definition used for acting in this course is: The ability to make a script sound like they are your words and that you just thought of them. Cinematic Scene Study employs fundamentals learned in ITA 101 and applies them to a two-person script from a film. Students develop their character into a believable performance using method, personal parallels, relationship, and imaginary circumstances. Students continue to be filmed in class, performing these scenes. Class work prepares them for the Acting Thesis.

FLM 202 - Film Lab 1

The MPI main stage is transformed into a real live working movie set with a production crew. Here the student actor is cast in simulated production designed to help them learn how a movie set functions. This course gives students valuable knowledge on how to work under lights, in front of a camera, around audio mics and under the watchful eye of a director and his crew. At the beginning of each session students rehearse a portion of a prepared script. Then they come to set and run through multiple takes, camera set ups and scene performances from the script. Key instructional concepts include; set etiquette, blocking, hitting marks, playing to the camera, establishing eye lines, continuity, and staying in character. Scenes are filmed and viewed for critiquing, evaluation and grading.

ASS 301 - Advanced Scene Study

In this class, students embark upon a series of acting exercises consisting of improvisation and scene work. This is a studio class where students look at published plays or short scenes in order to discuss theatrical, film and rehearsal terms while analyzing tools that aid an actor in preparing and presenting work. Preparation for class is very important as many of the projects involve memorization.  Students act during the class period and prepare scenes outside of class time. Acting scenes are recorded on camera and critiqued in class.

ACT 302 - Acting Thesis Preparation

The Acting Thesis is a course where students work on their portfolio reel. The reel is comprised of various content and scenes that the students film in class to demonstrate their acting abilities and range. This course focuses on auditioning for, being cast in and preparing appropriate material via character work and read-through, tech rehearsals and improv run-throughs.  Students also learn about make-up, wardrobe and "who does what" within the crew on set.

TBA 401 - The Business of Acting

The Business of Acting is essential for success as an actor. This course revisits and refines the audition process as encountered in the film industry. Students learn how to prepare for a cold read and impromptu direction through several mock auditions in class. Other topics include: agents, talent agencies, unions, contracts, networking, how to be a 'working actor', finding jobs related to performance, locating auditions and casting opportunities, and developing short and long term goals. Students learn the art of self-promotion by developing their own website, building a reel of their work, building a resume, getting the proper headshots, registering on major casting sites, and searching out on-line audition postings. This course prepares each student to be self-motivated and practical in the pursuit of a career as an actor.

ACT 402 - Acting Thesis Production

In this course, students work with experienced student filmmakers to shoot the scripted material prepared in Course 302.  Filming takes place on the Motion Picture Institute soundstage during class time. Students appear in their own scenes and also in those of their classmates as they are cast from project auditions.  Once shooting is wrapped students work with an editor to assemble their scenes for their professional reel. The editorial process may require the student to perform ADR or looping when sound editing begins. Each student creates a showpiece that is screened at a local movie theater for classmates, family and friends at the acting program graduation.  By the end of the semester, each student will have enough content for a professional reel.