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Why Actors Should Watch Classic Films

Jeff Richardson teaches film history classes for actors at the Maggie Flanigan Studio. In this video Jeff discusses why actor training needs to include film history and why actors needs to have a plan for regularly viewing classic films.

film history class for actors - Jeff Richardson (917) 794-3878

Film History Class for Actors – Jeff Richardson – Call (917) 794-3878

Why Actor Training Should Include Classic Films

One thing I constantly hear from young actors is: “I wish I’d seen more films.” They love movies, they say, but they don’t think they’ve seen enough of the classics. And it makes perfect sense that they would feel this way. Most of them want to act in film. Watching movies not only provides inspiration and influence, but it gives them a shared knowledge base with others in the industry. The filmmaking world is a world of film buffs. Unless you’re planning to get into the business through the backdoor of professional wrestling or reality television stardom, being able to talk about great films, filmmakers, and performances is an important skill. How well are you going to fit in at a meeting, audition, or film set if your entire knowledge of pre-2000 cinema consists of Titanic and Toy Story?


“Being able to talk about great films, filmmakers, and performances is an important skill.”

Jeff RichardsonFilm History Class for Actors

OK… so how does one watch more movies? That sounds like a silly question, but it’s not as simple as it seems. Having a catalog of films in your head doesn’t just happen overnight. I’m a huge movie buff – I teach a film history class at the Maggie Flanigan Studio, and even I can feel overwhelmed by what I haven’t seen. For a young actor, even one who’s always loved movies, their lifetime of film-watching isn’t going to equal that of an industry veteran 10, 20, or 30 years their senior. And, let’s face it: life is busy, and watching movies – especially classics – is a commitment. When busy days become busy weeks, etc., it’s not easy to spend your limited free time watching a strange old film outside your comfort zone.

So how to fix this “film shortage” problem? The first step is realizing that you have to make a viewing plan. And to do that, you need to learn something about film history to add to your actor training. Surveying a century of movies at random is not only inefficient, it’s likely to subtract from your enjoyment. You’ll get a lot more out of a classic film if you know a thing or two about its historical context, its cast and crew, its style, its reception and impact. In other words: why the film is considered a classic. By studying film history, you’ll gain an understanding of key periods, genres, and filmmakers, and, most importantly, you’ll have a crash course in your own interests. Once you know what appeals to you – and there absolutely is something for everyone – you can confidently create your own personalized film guide for future viewing. You’ll enjoy the films more and you’ll have more thoughts about them afterwards. Even just watching one film a week will steadily make a big difference. It’s a great method to kick start a purposeful, pleasurable film education that can continue for a lifetime.

film history class for actors - Jeff Richardson (917) 794-3878

Film History Class for Actors at the Maggie Flanigan Studio with Jeff Richardson

Film History Classes at Maggie Flanigan Studio

Learn more about the film history class with Jeff Richardson at the Maggie Flanigan studio, as well as the other acting classes and acting programs at the Maggie Flanigan Studio by visiting the programs page on the studio website  ( ) or by calling (917) 794-3878.

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