Why Austin Actors Should Take Dustin Hoffman’s Masterclass

What’s an Austin actor to do?

If you are an Austin actor and interested in taking a masterclass with Dustin Hoffman, then you are in luck. There is one such class that came out a few years ago. I took the class whenever it first came out. It’s an awesome class and one Austin actors should consider taking.

It’s The Real Deal

I started acting as a student at The University of Texas and this was the first place I was exposed to a real acting coach. As an Austin actor, I can honestly tell you there are no instructors in the Austin area as good as Dustin Hoffman.

Class Organization

The class is organized in about 30 different videos. They are divided into videos where Hoffman covers need to know information about acting. This information applies to Austin actors as well as actors located in other cities. There are also two different sections of the course where actors get their chance to work through a scene with Hoffman working as the director. They work through the actor’s problems and eventually get to a place where the scene is very real to the audience. They document this for the students who take the class and it’s incredibly helpful.

What You Learn

Austin Actors should take the class. That’s all I have to say about it. If you are an Austin actor or an actor anywhere, then you should take this class. Dustin Hoffman and his class will give you a place to build off of as an actor and a place of reference for when you find yourself losing your way. You can also find a list of credits for films I’ve made on IMDb.

Why Read Eric Morris’ Book ‘No Acting Please’

If It Works, Use It

‘No Acting Please’ is one of the best acting books. In the forward of the book, Jack Nicholson wrote, “The Method is ‘If it works, use it.’” For those of you who don’t know, Eric Morris is a revered acting instructor based in Los Angeles, California. His approach is to take realism, which was originally brought to the forefront in acting by Constantin Stanislavski in the early 20th century and create acting exercises to get actors from point A to point B. Point B being realism as seen in good performances, or what most consider a good performance. Eric Morris calls it BEING.

Eric Morris and His Books

This book is one of 7 books he’s written on the subject of acting. This is indefinably one of the best acting books out there. It’s divided into four different sections titled Being, Getting Ready to Get Ready, Common Sensory Acting, and Preparation. It’s written in a very user-friendly format with a lot of opportunities to learn what Eric Morris has learned in the time he has been studying and practicing acting.


There is a distinction between BEING and not BEING made in this book. Morris starts his book by saying this, “No matter what the material, the actor’s fundamental question is: ‘What is the reality and how can I make it real to me?’” When an actor is BEING, he’s bringing a real performance to the scene. It’s when they decide to operate on a natural level where all the human emotions, mannerisms, intents and thoughts are as real as you would see if that character were standing before you under those same circumstances of the story. That’s the number one reason you should read this book. It’s one of the best acting books and it gives readers the opportunity to explore this principle more fully. That is what all acting classes, self-help books, and so-called professional ‘experience’ are aimed to do.

What Jack Nicholson Said

To go back quickly to what Jack Nicholson said when he said, “The Method is ‘If it works, use it.’” I have never been in an acting class or on a film set where I didn’t see my performance had so much to do with my preparation before. The most important thing I have seen – and Jack Nicholson can attest to this – is don’t limit yourself, or your acting, to things others have told you or showed you. Throw everything and the kitchen sink at your performance. Know your lines inside and out. Read every book and online articles about acting you can get your hands on. Sign up for film acting workshops. Try to get out to every audition you can. Most importantly, if it works, then use it.

Why I Study

I study acting and make films in Austin, Texas. I’ve taken film acting workshops, film acting classes, and improvisation courses at The University of Texas. I can tell you doing it is important. Study is just as important, but if you aren’t out there working you are limiting yourself as an artist, immensely. If you aren’t working, consider taking a workshop or class in acting.

How a Film Acting Workshop Can Help with Screenwriting

What’s a Screenwriter To Do?

One of the most important things a screenwriter can do is understand the medium of film. This includes the physical limitations brought on by locations and equipment, including the future budget of the film your screenplay will become. It also includes the limitations on the actors who will eventually bring to life the words written. A film acting workshop or class could potentially help a writer with this. With my film endeavors, I’ve tried to learn about every aspect of filmmaking.

Talented Screenwriters

Some of the most talented screenwriters of all time were also actors and filmmakers. They probably even enrolled in a film acting workshop before. This list includes people such as Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen, Billy Bob Thornton and Ben Affleck, just to name a few. One thing these people have in common is they fully understand the medium they write for.

This can be as broad as understanding the difference between good and bad films, which can be traced back to the quality of the screenplay. It also can deal with more pointed details such as what kinds of dialogue work and don’t work. Maybe something sounded good in your head and you arrived at a table read and it sounds convoluted or unreal. Many times, after working on film sets, we can see dialogue may work for a character cast for one person but not another. Did we mean for that to happen, or was it by accident? Screenwriters who study filmmaking learn to think of the screenwriting in a holistic way, and that is a positive thing.

As a screenwriter, filmmaker, and actor I’ve come to realize the importance of this. I can also point to others in the entertainment industry who have made this approach part of their careers. Learn as much as you can about the medium you write for!

7 Things Every Beginning Actor Should Do

If you have ever considered acting professionally, but aren’t sure where to start, below are 7 steps you could take.

#1 Take an Acting Class

Every person who is seriously considering pursuing acting as a career should take a class in acting first. This is a good way to make sure you like performing in front of others and understand firsthand what acting is about.

#2 Get Professional Head Shots

I’ve received hundreds of submissions for the independent films I’ve made. The ones that don’t have professional headshots stand out in a negative way. It’s an absolute must to have your head-shots done by a professional photographer.

#3 Prepare a Resume

It can be hard to write a resume without any acting experience. You should start with any experience that may help a director and casting director decide if they would like to cast you. You can also list background artist work, which usually is not hard to book. Once you are farther along in your career, you will begin to book more and more involved roles. The other things that should be listed on your resume are contact information, and training in acting you have received and any special skills. Do your research and make sure you have formatted your resume correctly. You can start with a search online. A great book on this topic is Acting as a Business by Brian O’Neil. He doesn’t just talk about resumes, but he does cover them in this book.

#4 Find out Where to Self-Submit for Auditions in Your Local Area

In the Austin, Texas area, there are a number of Facebook groups, a website called http://www.shortfilmtexas.com and a handful of national websites where casting calls are posted. You can really begin finding auditions by these resources alone. If you are not in the Austin area, talk to the acting community and find out where they look up casting calls.

#5 Get Listed on IMDb, and Then Sign up for IMDb Pro

This is one of the biggest things an actor can do. You need to book a project that will list you on IMDb to get listed initially. Industry professionals go to IMDb when searching for talent or verifying the work of other professionals. If you are not listed on there or have not taken the time to sign up for IMDb pro, it’s a red flag. Either you haven’t had enough experience to get listed or you aren’t savvy enough to know that it comes across as unprofessional when you haven’t signed up and added your picture. Either way, if you are taking the time to do the other steps on this list, you should take the time to make sure your IMDb profile is looking good.

#6 Get a Demo Reel

A good rule of thumb is your demo reel should be 60 to 90 seconds long. It should not repeat any footage from the same project, each clip should have the title of that project listed on the bottom of the clip for a few seconds and it should also list your name and contact information in a slide before and after all of your clips are shown.

#7 Get a Talent Agent

This is something you should consider after completing the first six steps. There are a lot of talent agencies out there. A good place to find them is by a Google search, by word of mouth, and by looking up the talent agencies on IMDb Pro. Looking them up on IMDb pro is a great way to verify the number of actors they represent and their popularity. If they don’t have any actors listed on IMDb, they most likely will not be able to help you find any auditions past what you have already been able to find by self-submission.