Acting for Film & Television Curriculum

To prepare confident, camera savvy, and compassionate actors who possess the tools to develop a mastery of their instrument in service of the story. We aim to free their impulse, body, voice, and spirit so that they may successfully execute individual and collaborative ensemble performances.

Term 1 Course Descriptions

You have arrived at Acting school – how do you prepare for the rigorous year ahead? You will be onboarded to the VFS experience and learn to open up to the possibilities for the actor in training. Trust, play and serious fun are explored. You will face the lens of the camera, delve into text, create an improvised project, breathe, and learn to work as part of an ensemble.

Acting requires you to unlock your imagination and convey the story through your actor instrument, in collaboration with your fellow actors and production team on any industry set. In this course you will build awareness of yourself and commitment to the ensemble, through trust, safety and play exercises. Discover how to observe and listen deeply, be engaging and committed in your acting; learn the actor’s vocabulary with a thorough grounding in text analysis, at the table and on your feet. By collaborating with the ensemble as you study the basic skills and tools required for the acting process, you will begin to explore your potential as an empowered actor.

Through a series of exercises and games, conducted in pairs and groups, you will develop your intuition, learn the fundamentals of being a good improviser, giving and receiving offers, sharing focus, playing status and making specific choices to solidify character, environment, and relationship. Through practice of the principles of improv, you will begin to integrate these skills into short scenes. Improvisation will build your skills so you can develop into an actor who is fully in the moment: listening and reacting, spontaneous and alive, rooted in truth & high stakes - the keys to great acting in comedy and drama.

Authenticity, relaxation and spontaneity in pursuit of your scene objective are the keys to your success when acting for the camera. You will have opportunities to grow and assess these abilities through a series of exercises that will be filmed and reviewed immediately in class. This will supplement and improve your text analysis skills: objective, given circumstances and relationships. Through hands-on training with equipment, you will practice the technical demands placed on the actor on a professional film set. This will enhance your ability to perform with spontaneity and relaxation.

The craft of an actor begins and is sustained through being an engaged audience member. You will learn how to appreciate, dissect, evaluate and discuss with passion, the work of actors and filmmakers at the top of their field. You will participate in group viewings and discussion of a selection of specially curated film and television classics, oddities and art. You will prepare for each session by researching elements of each film and acting performance; readying yourself for a passionate discussion of each viewing. Term One begins your awareness so you can see the direct lines that are drawn from the acting that we study on screen and your own daily studies as an actor.

A heightened awareness is necessary to develop the actor’s body. Drawing from North American, European, and Asian actor training methodologies you will explore movement exercises, improvisation, games, and techniques. Utilizing a spirit of discovery and openness, you will learn to inhabit your own specific body. Working with alignment, breath, release and neutral, you will also be exposed to a range of movement for the actor. Students will interact, play, and explore unison movement — developing sensitivity to the energy of the group, using periphery vision and listening with the body. You will develop rhythmic acuity, a sense of timing, and coordination.

A strong, flexible voice is key for every actor. In this course, you will be introduced to the basics of voice in relation to your body. You will explore breath, sound, vowels, consonants, and operative words. You will learn to support sound and the muscularity of the spoken world, in relation to the meaning of language. By the end of the course, you will be able to make the important connection, breath, sound, and language.

This course is the first step in developing the courage and trust necessary to risk exploring a new relationship with yourself, your voice, and your full instrument -- to support your self-discovery in moving beyond existing physical and vocal habits, patterns, preconceived beliefs, and fears that may keep you from attaining your goals and desires as an actor in this industry. These weekly sessions are designed to give you introductions to the core building blocks to the process work & the basic terminology -- with industry examples leading into direct application, which you will continue to explore further in your acting & process classes.

Term 2 Course Descriptions

Discover how to take the actor’s basic skills and tools into rehearsal. Using the skills you acquired in Term 1, you will delve more deeply into creating an authentic character from an assigned play. Through the rehearsal process, you will learn to embody your text analysis and research. You will develop a creative process that is supportive of, and supported by, a healthy ensemble and partner dynamic. Through acting exercises designed to explore the environment, objective, stakes, and obstacles you will strengthen your powers of observation and deep listening. The course culminates in a day-long workshop, integrating process work with your scene.

Creating believable, complex characters entirely from your own imagination requires the freedom to play, Associate, and the permission to trust your intuition. Building upon Term 1, you will deepen your Understanding of expectations, giving and receiving offers, and reacting to the unexpected. Through practice, you will develop a heightened awareness of your scene partner(s) and extend your ability to concentrate in longer scenes. Improv is a valuable skill across our industry: to create ensemble scripts, be ready for anything on set, as well as performing in improv companies around the world.

Discover the potential of physical communication, and the heightened awareness required to develop a resonant and responsive actor’s body. Expanding upon the work of T1 Movement, you will explore the use of rhythm in character creation and scene analysis. You will develop spatial awareness, investigating the myriad use of space and its impact on the body and relationships. You will learn a variety of ways to adapt your physicality and to create characters that will prepare for a range of stage and screen roles.

In this course. you will continue to deepen and expand the work from Term 1 Foundation. You will explore vocal expression and how it informs the text. Through warm-up and exercises, you will be given the opportunity to safely explore the playfulness of the range of sounds in the human voice as well as experience how it engages your sensations, emotions, sounds, and impulses.

In this course you will navigate the technical demands of acting on a film set while drawing upon acting fundamentals to block, rehearse, and shoot high-,stakes ensemble television scenes. Confidence in yourself and your technique is essential to survive the rigours of performing on a professional film set; this hands-on course seeks to demystify the on-set environment by giving you the opportunity to fulfil the roles of various crew positions. You will be challenged to execute procedural jargon convincingly while simultaneously dealing with multi-marked blocking, continuity and a variety of camera set-ups and shooting styles, such as master/coverage and moving master.

You will explore the technical and creative demands of an audition using sides (excerpt from a film or television script) from commercials, film, and TV that will be shot and reviewed in class. You will develop and assess your progress in the areas of preparation, performance, and technical execution of the audition as well as beginning to learn how to adjust that performance in the moment. The importance of playing character objectives, listening, and partnering effectively with the reader are explored as the class intensifies with larger and more challenging material.

You will participate in group viewings and discuss a selection of specially curated film and television classics, oddities and art. You will prepare for each session by researching elements of each film and/or acting performance, readying yourself for the passionate discussion of each viewing. Building on your Term 1 and Term 2 experience, at the end of the course you will write an essay comparing the work of two actors of your choice. Direct lines will be drawn from the acting we study on screen and your own daily studies as an actor, challenging you as a student to become as great as the artists you admire.

Term 3 Course Descriptions

The foundation for a scene is built on a solid understanding of the given circumstances in which a character is situated. During this term, you will deepen your capacity to uncover the components that make up the world of the script. Through exercises and activities, you will engage your imagination further and be precise with the study of a scene. Using a scene from a play that inspires both you and your scene partner, together you will begin to play with sensitivity to the given circumstances, giving you the tools that you need to enter an intensive rehearsal process during Term 4.

Acting in film and television often requires us to engage in moments of physical staged intimacy. Through discussions and lecture, you will explore consent, boundaries, industry protocols, as taught by an industry-certified Intimacy Coordinator or Director. In partnered scene work, you will negotiate a boundary practice with your scene partner and break down moments of intimacy through breath, space, time, weight, phrasing, and relationship. You will gain insight into what you should expect in preparation for projects entailing intimacy on camera.

How can today’s actor bring a full expression to their physical instrument and capture the attention of an audience with just their presence? You will learn to inhabit bold physical choices as well as become aware of the impact of minute physical subtleties. This will broaden your range of physical choices and begin to free your intuitive and creative physical instrument. You will explore animal character study, mask work, and other techniques to enhance physical expression. From the on-screen comic book hero to the deep work of subtle character development, the ancient craft of mask prepares the modern actor to meet all challenges.

You will experience how practical body, breath, and voice work can enhance your emotional connection with the script and your scene partner(s) and help you to be fully present in each acting moment. In addition, you will begin to discover techniques to make your character’s language organically your own. With practice, you will continue to develop your voice and speech to increase clarity and confidence in your spoken communication.

You will gain further insight into the skills learned in T2 Camera: Television, such as continuity, eye line, hitting Marks, and partnering while developing an awareness of the editing process that can both change and enhance your performance and your perception of what it is to be camera savvy. You will once again fill various crew positions and handle film set equipment to produce a number of scenes. Once the scenes are shot, you will assist in editing the projects. The course culminates with a viewing of all the edited scenes in a theatre on the big screen.

Mastering the complex demands of a mid-sized television and commercial audition can lead to a steady and potentially lucrative career. Building on the lessons learned in T2 Audition, you will emerge from this class with a better understanding of the expectations of the modern television audition and the typical genres you will be asked to work within. The audition summit will expose you to the differences between the “absolute” rules of the audition room and the rules that you can choose to bend. The common practice of self-taped auditions will be introduced and developed.

You will participate in group viewings and discuss a selection of specially curated TV and Film performances. Term Three deepens your research and critical skills, readying yourself for the passionate discussion following each viewing. For your assigned screening, you will prepare by researching elements of each film and/or acting performance, so you can host an in-depth presentation to give context to the performance and to ignite further discussion with the rest of the group. Direct lines will be drawn from the acting that we study on screen and your own daily studies as an actor, challenging you as a student to become as great as the artists you admire.

Term 4 Course Descriptions

A robust rehearsal process gives an actor the confidence they need to make clear, imaginative acting choices. Building on the foundational text analysis from T3 Scene Study, you are encouraged and guided to experiment with rehearsal techniques while exploring with commitment and professionalism. You will keep sharpening your Scene Study skills, deepen your character work and integrate what you have investigated in your scene work from T3 Scene Study, culminating in a performance and/or taping at the end of the course.

Nourishing creativity and activating the imagination is vital for the actor. This course can serve you whether you want to write yourself or understand story and text from the point of view of the writer. You will complete a series of exercises and story prompts designed to tap into your imagination and/or memory that will unlock and expand your voice. Story structure, narrative styles, and the editing process will be explored. By the end of the course, you will have written a 1-2-minute monologue that you will present in class.

Explore the dynamic and valuable link between your voice and acting; discover how powerfully these two aspects of the work influence and inform one another. This course will provide you with the opportunity to deepen and integrate the skills learned in previous Voice courses and give you valued time to work on your feet with auditions and scene material. You will work with a variety of exercises to enliven and expand your breath, range, resonance, and articulation, as well as digging into the vital dynamics of language and text and how they affect your voice.

Transforming your voice is a powerful tool for creating character. You can change your nationality, age, culture, size, status, period, gender, or even your species. This course teaches a practical, physical approach to speaking with accents and nurtures a flexible voice and a broad range. Through teacher guided practice, you will develop the modern non-regional American sound that is the standard for our industry, and also explore regional variations around the world. By altering tone focus and facial muscles, you will have the opportunity to discover the right accent for every character. You will also find out how accents develop and why we have them. Your ability to identify and speak consistently in accent will grow along with your understanding of how our voice identifies us.

Through the process of rehearsal with your director, you will develop strong comedic characters and understand blocking for multiple camera set ups. The demands of multi-camera sitcom shooting, require versatility in technical skill, spontaneity, comic timing and stamina. This project culminates with a three-camera shoot on a studio set. By honing your own innate love of character and impulse, you will feel comfortable in the fast-paced environment of studio-based episodic television series.

In this fundamental course, you will begin to explore a unique and wonderful performance art-form—voice acting. You will be given the opportunity to develop your voice acting skills and abilities through recording sessions in many different areas of the discipline including: auditions, audio books, animated characters, and multi-voice commercials. Through the exploration of audio samples, videos, discussions, guest speakers, and most importantly on the mic training, you will begin to understand your own voice and how you can use it as a voice actor. Voice Acting is a growing area in the business, a place where many new actors find employment opportunities.

Combat and VFX are key parts of film, television, and performance capture productions. Learning how to safely partner with others and effectively execute choreography while acting is therefore a critical competency for actors. This course will introduce students to the basics of unarmed and armed combat theory and techniques in an applied manner. This skill development will begin to prepare students to work alongside VFX artists, culminating in an applied green screen/virtual production shoot. Physical storytelling is at the heart of the actor’s craft - this course will prepare students to tell safe, dynamic, and compelling stories within professional environments.

Term 5 Course Descriptions

Here you will explore “genius”, the profound relationship with true impulse that is key element in elevating a performance from mere pedestrian choices to the greatness exhibited by our acting heroes. You will be pushed, provoked, and enticed to move beyond the realm of safe, predictable work and into a place where your unique stamp of authenticity will allow your work to shine as honest, distinct, and playful. In this week-long intensive, you will rehearse a prepared scene with a partner, take notes from the director/instructor, and participate in a variety of games and exercises that will strengthen and renew your connection to the actor’s impulse.

Every character comes from different backgrounds and is written with different vocabulary and rhythms. Thus, each character uses language in a different way. In this course, you will find the character’s vocabulary, how it affects their speech, and how they use language to affect other characters. The course culminates in the preparation of a scene or monologue from the standpoint of argumentation and persuasion. Whether you are confident in setting performance goals or are just beginning, this course has precisely what you need to unlock the action in your scenes.

A professional actor must know their personal preparation intimately to be able to rehearse material and participate in the pre-production of any project. You will apply all of the acting skills you have learned this year as you audition for, research, and rehearse your role in the T5/6 Camera Final Film Projects. You will also actively participate in production and wardrobe meetings in anticipation of the shoot. By the end of the course, you will be prepared for an intense shooting schedule in Term 6. By taking responsibility in your Final Film Project, your understanding of preparation and pre-production will empower you as an independent actor/filmmaker/artist.

Dig into your own personal voice process with this course, which is designed to give you one-on-one time with your Voice instructor. You will dive into high-stakes text work and discover how to support the power and depth of emotionally expressive dialogue. At the other end of the spectrum, and just as challenging for the actor, you will explore intimacy, subtlety, and style with a variety of texts. In between these two extremes, you will discover how to maintain a dynamic and energized voice in all your work. You will develop strategies for your own voice practice and growth in the professional world.

Preparing for the potential career-making opportunities in a significant feature film audition demands a high level of both analysis and creativity. Building on the lessons learned in T2 and T3 Audition, you will tackle a series of increasingly challenging single-scene and multi-scene film auditions that will become more and more tailored to your individual strengths and weaknesses. The art of the self-taped audition will be revisited. You will employ character objectives, strategies, and choices and in doing so, assess your work, the work of your peers and determine areas in need of improvement as you get closer to launching your auditioning career.

The Business of Acting is a lecture/seminar series which provides you with the skills to navigate the industry from a business perspective. You will prepare a business plan in order to support the transition from student to professional actor. Instructors and guest speakers discuss topics such as: demo reels, industry trends, headshots, resumes, agents, casting directors, how to formulate and execute a marketing plan, as well as online sites to promote oneself on. You will conclude the course by completing a portfolio template that includes a resume, cover letter, and mission statement.

Building on Voice Acting, you will leverage your knowledge and skills to enhance your craft. You will learn advanced mic techniques and be introduced to Pre-lay and ADR for animation. Focusing on your strengths you will aim to “find your voice”. Upon the completion of this course, you will have a better understanding of your desire and ability to further pursue the craft of Voice Acting. You will be provided with the files of the performances created and performed in this course, including a professionally edited voice sampler, which you will record at a professional sound studio.

Motion capture technology has already transformed film; nine of the ten highest-grossing films of all time have leveraged ‘mocap’ in a significant way. This technology has also placed the movement of actors at the heart of the ever-growing global video game industry. This course will introduce you to working within motion and performance capture. Building upon your previous training, you will further develop a capacity to compose varied characters through the body and engage in creative embodied play. You will also gain familiarity with key performance capture processes and terminology as you work toward a shoot at VfS’s industry-leading partner, Beyond Capture Studios.

Term 6 Course Descriptions

Filmic naturalism is a pure acting class, preparing you for your future work in front of the camera. You will be empowered and emboldened to conceive of characters that are truly individuated and divined by story.  You will synthesize your ability to communicate with craft and respond with all of your senses whilst working on cinematic texts of the highest calibre. By discovering how to trust your organic response to story, you will begin to create performances that are as complex, natural, and rich as those of real life.

This is a project-based course that gives you the opportunity to apply the many skills you have been developing in your studies and training. You will perform a role in a professional level film production under the direction of an experienced filmmaker. You will be working in a professional manner on a studio set, following all the protocols of an industry film production. You will face the challenges of adapting to the vision and demands of an experienced film director. This film project will be fully post-produced and presented on the big screen at your graduation ceremony in front of a large audience.

Your instructor will support, guide, and rigorously challenge you and your scene work. Some of your work will be in front of a camera, in close-up, as you apply all of the skills you have developed throughout your studies this year. You will prepare and deliver 2 different challenging film/tv scenes with 2 different scene partners over the course of the term. Any footage recorded of your work will be available to you for further study at home. This is a scene study class at an advanced level.

Auditioning for guest star and lead roles in film and television demands a high level of creativity, personal work ethic, and time management. Building on the skills acquired through previous terms, the accumulated knowledge is put to the test in Term 6. Complex personalized multi-scene auditions with career-making opportunities are fully explored, leading up to the presentation of a polished piece for a local Vancouver agent. Each audition performed will be graded and discussed, focussing on refining the specific skills required to book the role and start your career outside the academic environment.

Talent agents often require a demonstration of acting ability prior to signing a new client. A self-tape or promotional reel is often requested of a student actor without any professional experience. In Promo Reel, you will create your own promotional reels which will be shot in an audition/screen test format in our film studio and will be used to promote yourself to agents upon graduating. You will gain an understanding of your marketability and enhance your audition skills. With guidance and direction, you will bring three characters to life to showcase you in your best light to your future representation.

In this course, you will be guided to approach the business as an entrepreneur ready to develop self-created work or artistic ventures in collaboration with partners. Some of the topics that will be explored: developing your website, navigating social media, pitching projects, accessing funding bodies, applying for grants, collaborating with the industry, and promoting and producing independent theatre,  film, and TV projects. Actorpreneur gives you the answer to “And what now?” - how you as the actor/writer/producer/director can take the first steps in realizing what awaits within your imagination.

In the final term of your intensive year at VFS, your practice will have developed to a greater level of expertise. Special Ttopics is a curated course designed to open up the possibilities of the craft of acting for the advanced student. Guest teachers will share their area of specialty in a focused, accelerated workshop that requires full concentration and engagement from the student. You will apply and integrate the skills you have learned as you step into the acting lab at a professional level. Special Topics gives you access to experiences from current movers and shakers in the industry that will take your acting career to greater heights.

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