BWW Blog: Royal Central School of Speech and Drama's Amanda Brennan on Acting for the Screen
Amanda Brennan is an acting coach, film director, producer, and the Principal Lecturer and Course Leader in MA Acting for Screen at London's Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Her recent coaching credits include Collette, Sex Education and His Dark Materials. She is currently writing her second book on Acting for Screen which will be published in 2021. The Energetic Performer was published in 2016.
The MA Acting for Screen at Central is a professional training that focuses on acting in film, television and screen-related media. Primarily for those with previous training or professional experience, it explores the expressive potential of performance and the relationship between performers and camera.
In this article, Amanda talks about the industry-focused training provided on Central's MA Acting for Screen, and the successes that work produced as a part of the course have had on the international film festival circuit.
The MA Acting for Screen is a one year programme which trains actors for film and television. Providing an all-round curriculum which covers voice, movement, acting and preparation for the industry it is particularly useful for actors who have previously focused on theatre and live performance. Attracting actors from all over the world, many of whom have already established careers in their own countries of origin, this course not only aims to refine their craft but also provides the opportunity for the development of new skills.
One of the key features of the course is the production of between four and seven short films which are commissioned for the group. Led by a team of industry professionals, these projects have enabled the actors to be showcased both whilst they are on the course as well as after graduation through their presence on the national and international short film festival circuit. We have successfully screened our work at over 30 festivals including Tribeca, New York, London, Encounters, Toronto Women's, Rotterdam, Dublin, Reykjavik, Sofia, Aesthetica, and East End.
We have won several awards including:
- Best Female Supporting Actor for Justine Priestly in BirthCloud in 2015 at the Monaco International Film Festival
- Best UK Short at Raindance Film Festival for Healey's House in 2016
- Best Short Film (Narrative) for Dawn of the Deaf at the Kaleidoscope LGBT Film Festival in 2017
- Best Female Supporting Actor for Daniela Spataru at the Monaco International Film Festival for Letters to April in 2017
- Best Actress for Charlotte Lancaster in Noose at the 2019 Liverpool Film Festival
- Audience Award at the 2019 British Urban Film Festival for Paparazza
- Labrat for Best Production Design at 2019's Short to the Point.
When sourcing the directors for the projects we have drawn on graduates from some of the leading film schools in the UK, such as the National School of Film and Television, London Film School and the British Film Institute. Our many collaborations have included production companies such as Great Lakes and Panacea as well as other university film departments including East London, Goldsmiths and Gloucester. The extended life of the films at festivals has brought recognition for our actors and is an excellent way of networking.
One of the unique aspects of the curriculum is that students also create their own work. The final unit of the MA provides students with an opportunity to create their own short film of between 8 - 10 minutes in length. As well as being assessed on acting, the project allows students to develop core skills such as production, directing, art direction, scriptwriting and editing. Composing of the score is also undertaken. Support is offered in the various disciplines in the form of workshops, mentoring, and practical exploration. Over the last five years this independently created student work has been shown at film festivals as well and, in some cases, has been given distribution.
Recent graduate testimonials attest to the industry-leading training that students receive, setting them up with the best possible start as they develop their careers.
"The moment I was accepted on to Central's MA Acting for Screen was the turning point in my career. I was given an opportunity to learn everything I needed to know about the craft, receive invaluable training and, most importantly, showcase my work to core industry professionals." - BEN TAVASSOLI Graduated 2014, television and film credits include Tomorrow, New Blood, Silent Witness, No Offence and Tyrant.
"Acting for Screen opened so many doors for me and it is hard to put into words exactly how beneficial this course actually is. All the tools learnt, and the hours of practice it has given me: confidence, grounding and the tools for executing the carefully considered details that bring a performance to life." - VICTORIA EMSLIE Graduated 2012, credits include The Christmas Candle, The Theory Of Everything, Downton Abbey, The Danish Girl, Amy and 12 Monkeys.
Although the focus of the MA Acting for Screen is very much on acting technique, the overall aim is to produce creative artists who are fully equipped for the industry and can move on to shape the future of the arts.
The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama is a leading UK drama school located in London - a highly regarded, specialist conservatoire and a constituent college of the prestigious University of London. Central provides specialist training in the dramatic and performing arts, offering Bachelor's and Master's degrees as well as short courses and PhD opportunities. Students from across the world study on Central courses, bringing a rich diversity of skills and experience to create a unique community and training environment.
All of Central's courses take place on the school's Swiss Cottage campus in Hampstead, a quiet, leafy corner of London which is only 10 minutes by tube from the bright lights of central London's West End theatre district. Central's campus houses the 234 seat Embassy Theatre, numerous workshops, rehearsal, movement and performance studios and the new £16.7 million state of the art North Block building comprising a studio dedicated to film, media and digital work and a galleried, courtyard theatre.
Central holds auditions and interviews for its courses across the globe, including San Francisco (4 and 5 February 2020) and New York City (8 and 9 February 2020). To find out more and to register your interest in being considered for a course, please visit the Central website here.
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