• Mark Westbrook

Why The Average HNC Course Won’t Help You Become An Actor

You may have it in your head that doing an HNC course will instantly propel you to stardom. It is true that a really good HNC course will help you massively, by improving your acting skills and giving you a good basis for your acting career - but a really good course is quite tricky to find. The average HNC course won’t do you a lot of good, and there are many reasons why.

Class sizes - If you are on an HNC course with more than 12 students, it will be extremely hard for your teacher to give you enough individual support. Added to this, with too many students all desperate for the chance to act, there won’t be much of a chance for you to strut your own stuff. When you’re on an acting course, you desperately need to have someone who is able to support you and your individual skills, and help you move past your problems, and with too many students this is next to impossible for a teacher to achieve. Many HNC courses are just looking to fill up the numbers so they can make more cash, so avoid these like the plague.

Budget - If an HNC course doesn’t have a big enough budget to support its students, then everyone’s learning will suffer. If there’s no money then there will be no props, no fancy cameras, no head shots and certainly no show reel to add to your CV. Your average HNC course will not be well funded, meaning that there aren’t enough resources for the students, and you can wave goodbye to the idea of having some specialist training from a well known actor.

Impersonal coaching - When you set out to do an HNC course, you need a coach who is willing to invest in you as a person, and as an actor. A good teacher is such an important thing - they will help you improve your techniques, teach you more than you ever thought was possible, encourage you when things are hard, cheer for you when you do well, and offer constructive criticism to help you improve yourself. A good coach will really care about you and your career, and they will be willing to put in the time and effort to help you succeed. Unfortunately, it is quite hard to find coaches like this!

Lack of performance options - If you’re training to be an actor, then you need the chance to actually do some acting. It’s all very well and good acting in front of your peers and teacher, but standing up in front of the public is where you need to be. There are a great many HNC courses out there that will not offer you this chance, or will offer a very limited opportunity for public performance. This means that you will get little or no experience at acting in front of an audience, which is something you will definitely need. Without the opportunity for public performance, you will be reduced to performing your heart out to a bus full of people or a crowded train platform, and they may not appreciate your offerings!

Not enough camera training - Acting for the camera is very different from other types of acting, and needs to be approached in a different way. If you have never done it before you will need to be taught how, and to get a lot of experience doing it, so that you feel comfortable and act naturally. Lots of HNC courses won’t help you with camera training - either because their budgets don’t stretch to it or classes are too big, meaning that you will leave the course an have no experience in camera acting. This will drastically reduce your chances of getting picked for the part above someone who is a natural in front of the camera.

Unqualified teachers - It’s no good learning from someone who isn’t an experienced coach. You will find a lot of actors who offer acting classes as a way to top up their income, but they are not experienced in coaching or necessarily very good at it! You need to find an HNC course that is run by someone with not only acting experience, but coaching experience too. If you find a course with an experienced, trusted coach who has lots of successful students under their belt then you will find your chances of success are far higher. A good coach also really cares about their students; it’s not just about the money with someone who has dedicated their life to helping people be good actors.

Not enough teaching hours - Acting is an intensive business, and learning to act is no less strenuous. Actually, it’s probably harder at the beginning - every day is a school day, as they say, and you never stop learning - but once you have ticked off the basic acting techniques then you will find it easier. You really need to put in the hours to stand a chance of getting anywhere, so finding a course that offers full time hours is a must. Many HNC courses are part time, and feel a little lax and lacking in dedication - find one that works you really hard, and you will not regret it.

An HNC acting course will do wonders for your acting techniques, confidence and experience. But! You have to make sure you find a good one. Some part time courses offered by part time actors may seem appealing because they’re often cheaper - but you pay for quality, right? Think of a good HNC course as an investment into your future. Yes, it’ll cost you, and yes, you’ll have to work hard - but it will be so worth it in the end.

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