Is Acting In Student Films A Good Idea?

You may ask yourself if acting in student films is a good idea.  Acting in student films is something you should strongly consider doing at some point.

Many actors first starting out can find an excellent creative outlet and gain valuable experience. Seasoned actors may want to support student filmmakers or simply try something different.

Some of today’s professionally working film directors have started out making their own student films.

There are a few things to consider.

Acting In Student Films

As an actor you want to work.  Knowing which projects to work on is derived by your individual needs.

  • What do you want to achieve by auditioning for and getting cast in a student film?

You have to be honest with yourself.  The answer to that question will be different for everybody.  As long as you know what you would like to achieve, you will question the idea of acting in student films less.

There are a few possible responses.

  • Meeting new collaborators.
  • Gain additional experiences.
  • Potential for creating future projects.
  • The film can get into noteworthy film festivals.

It’s not always about dollars and cents when acting in student films.  There are times when you want to work on a good story/character and the trade off is not getting paid.

You may come across who you feel is a talented film director and you want to work with him/her on their film.

Going into student films is not something any actor should turn their back on.

For starters, you may receive some fantastic scene footage from your work in the film.  This can be used for your actor demo reel or a snippet video upload to your awesome actor website.  When you keep adding new and interesting film work of yourself online, it provides you with ammunition to get cast for more roles.

Let’s say the student film you worked in was accepted into a film festival.  There are so many variable that can take place that can further your network.  If you attend the festival, there can be some terrific people in the industry that you can meet and become friends with.  Who knows where that may lead?

Another great benefit you will have when acting in student films is that you keep your own inner craft running.  There may be periods when you are not booking any work.  Along comes a student film and they want you for the part.  It can be a wonderful experience to work and keep yourself in tune with your technique.

It’s always a good idea to discuss the project with the director.  You will want to get a feel for that person and see if a collaboration will be positive.  Its important to gage if that filmmaker has a level of understanding when working with actors.

The way you go about having such a conversation is by taking the time to ask the right questions.  The reason why this is so important is because they are a student.  That doesn’t mean they don’t know what they are doing.  But it does mean that you want to be sure you are in good hands.  Most likely there won’t be much work this filmmaker has done at this point in their career and that’s fine.  But because there may not be past work that you can see, in order to know what you are getting yourself into, you want to have a conversation asking a few key points in your own way such as:

  • What are you looking to get across on screen in the telling of this story?
  • What camera equipment will you be using?
  • Who is the Director of Photography?
  • What is the budget?
  • What locations are in place?
  • How many days will we be shooting?  Hours?
  • Will I get a copy of the film?  How soon after we wrap production?
  • Do you plan on sending the film to festivals?  Any specifically?
  • Will there be rehearsals?

Those are only a few of the common logistics of the production.  You may also want to get right into your character and the story and also talk more from a creative collaboration.  Which is also recommended.

Any decent student director will be pleased to answer such questions and talk over with you the different aspects of filming.  Don’t think asking questions is a bad thing.

You should know from reading about the casting notice if this is a paid project. Some schools provide SAG-AFTTA contracts as well.


Overall, acting in student films is certainly something worth doing.  The benefits far exceed any limitation you may feel by not working in a larger budgeted Indie or A List movie.

Be sure you know why you want to work in a student film or else avoid doing one. The last thing you want to do is be in a student film and you truly don’t know why you are there.  Most likely, you won’t have an enjoyable experience.

Hopefully, this article will have helped guide you into seeing student films as potential for work and for helping you weigh your options to make a clear decision.

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