You have questions. We’ve got answers!
How old do you have to be to study at the RLS?
Students must be 18 years of age or older to join our scene study class or our Professional Development Program. Anyone under 18 will start in the Young Artist Program.
Other than the cost of class, are there other expenses?
In addition to classes, there are 3 books required for class: Dreams Into Action and Acting Class: Take a Seat by Milton Katselas, Life is a Contact Sport by Ken Kragen, and My Story Can Beat Up Your Story by Jeffrey Schecter. In addition, all students must take the 2-day DOIN seminar which is made available on the studio’s Ning community site.
How long are each of the classes?
The PDP 1.0 class is 16 weeks long, while PDP 2.0, PDP 3.0, and scene study are ongoing. Other classes may be 6 weeks, 10 weeks, or 12 weeks. We also offer 2-day weekend intensives.
What classes does Richard teach?
Richard primarily teaches the scene study 3.0 class and the upper level PDP classes. The lead teacher in PDP 1.0 is one of our trained faculty members, and Richard will come in for special lessons.
Who fills in when Richard isn’t teaching?
We have a roster of faculty members who have not only studied with Richard for over 10 years, but have also been trained to duplicate Richard’s training. Richard’s philosophy is “Do as I Do”, so there will be times when he is working on set or attending an industry function, but anyone sitting in the instructor’s chair has Richard’s approval.
How often do I get up in scene study?
- When a student starts, they begin with 3 exercises: the Environmental with a Crisis, the Improv, and the Song & Dance. Those pieces are automatically added to the schedule once you start. After completing the exercises, students can begin putting up scene work. Students’ first scenes are also automatically added to the date of their choosing. After that, scenes are signed up on a first-come, first-served basis.
- With all that said, in scene study, you get up as often as you want to get up. While there is a booking lineup, and sign-ups are first-come, first-served, through communication with other students and adding scenes to the 24-hour list, students have the ability to get added to the schedule.
What equipment is needed for PDP?
- A Computer (one of the following)
- Mac desktop or laptop (with iMovie)
- PC desktop or laptop (with Windows MovieMaker)
- A Camera (any one of the following will work)
- HD camcorder with a mic input jack
- MiniDV camcorder with a mic input jack
- An External Hard Drive (not required, but will prevent your computer hard drive from getting full – film footage takes up a lot of space)
- Connection cords (check the ports on your computer & your camera to find the right one)
- Appropriate charging cables for all of your equipment
- Tripod (not required, but will make filming your projects much easier and your footage much smoother)
Does the RLS provide any equipment?
For PDP, we do not provide any equipment, however many students are able to film with their smartphones. In addition, if you let your community know what you’re looking for, more often than not, there will be someone willing to let you borrow something if you do not have it.
When do classes meet?
In general, DAY classes meet from 9 AM to 1 PM and NIGHT classes meet from 7 PM to 11 PM. Intensives are typically two 10-hour days. When classes are open for enrollment, the Registration Department will inform those interested when the class will start and when it will meet.
What are some of the studio policies?
The Richard Lawson Studios operates as a microcosm of the industry, so the policies in place are rules that you would encounter if you were to book a film, television show, or play. For example:
- Be the consummate professional.
- Never be late. (You will be fired on the set)
- Sickness is not an excuse. (If you were working for Steven Spielberg you would still show up. Richard Lawson missed 3 classes in 30 years)
- Be prepared. (Having done your homework)
- Never, ever leave class no matter what. (You wouldn’t leave the set, no matter how upset you were or what you had to do)
- Talk to the stage managers if you have an upset or a problem.
- If you have to leave early for industry work (and only industry work), communicate it before you arrive and reconfirm when you arrive.
- Attendance is mandatory (Just like on the set). You may only miss class for industry work. If you miss class twice in a quarter for reasons unknown to the stage manager, then you go on probation or may be asked to start over and pick up where you first missed class.
- Once you are enrolled, you are financially responsible for class even if you miss it.
- No alcohol or drugs 24 hours before class.
- All criticism should be checked at the door.
- What happens in class stays in class.
- Keep yourself well-fed and hydrated.
What happens if you’re working?
- If you book work, fantastic! We want all of our students to work. If you are released in time for class, then you would come to class. If you book work that may result in you being late, inform your stage manager (in scene study) or your AD (in PDP). Even if you are not sure if you will be late, it’s better to over-communicate and inform your class contact that you may be late or absent. For scene study, if you book work that will have you out of class for longer than 4 weeks (the length of a finance cycle), then you would submit a Leave of Absence (LOA) Request.
- In PDP, if you miss more than 2 classes, we will ask you to postpone your enrollment and come back in the next PDP class. We have found that students don’t get the most out of the class if someone misses more than 2 classes.
How do Leaves of Absences (LOAs) work?
If you will be out of class for more than 4 weeks for industry work, first, inform the stage manager. S/he will assist you in submitting the Leave of Absence (LOA) application. NOTE: the application must be submitted before you start working. LOAs are not granted retroactively. Once submitted, the LOA must be approved by the finance department and senior administration of the studio. Approval is not a given, so if your LOA is denied, you will have to pay the tuition accrued.
How do you enroll to take class at the RLS?
The enrollment process starts with interviewing with one of the members of senior management. While auditions can (sometimes) gauge a person’s talent, they do little to showcase the person. So, we interview potential students rather than audition. During the interview, we aim to learn about you and your journey and what you are looking for (which helps to determine the best course). The interviewer will inform you of the best classes, prices, and policies. If you agree, then enrollment proceeds with paperwork and payment. Your start date is also discussed during the interview and a final email will come from the Registration department letting you know what is required for your first day.
Do I need to prepare anything for the interview?
In addition to bringing your headshot and résumé (if you have one), prior to your interview, review the following links. They will provide you with pertinent information essential for a successful interview:
- http://www.richardlawson.net/ – Visit this link to learn more about Richard, the studio, the classes that we have to offer, and the faculty.
- http://rlsvillage.ning.com/ – The Studio online community. Think of this as the Studio’s own Facebook. You can view photos and work done by some of our students.
- Complete the New Student Questionnaire and bring it with you to the interview.
What connections or opportunities does the studio have to the industry?
From time to time, directors, producers, and casting directors will reach out to the studio when they are looking for actors for a particular project. We forward these to our student body. We will also have guest speakers come to our classes or we will schedule special events with our guest speakers. Some past speakers have been director Oz Scott, writer Jeffrey Schecter, and actors Glynn Turman, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, and Tyrese.
I signed up for class and can no longer participate or attend. Can I get my money back?I signed up for class and can no longer participate or attend. Can I get my money back?
All payments are non-refundable. However, if you sign up for class and are no longer able to participate, the payment can be applied to a future class or service.
What happens if I am out of town on vacation? Do I still have to pay for class?
Yes, you are financially responsible for class even if you miss class. However, if you will be out of class for more than 4 weeks for industry work, we do have Leave of Absence (LOA) applications that must be submitted before you start working. Once submitted, the LOA must be approved by the finance department and senior administration of the studio. If your LOA is not approved, you will have to pay the tuition accrued.
I’ve been in the business for a while and worked on some high profile projects. Can I just start with the upper-level PDP class?
No. Anyone new to the studio must start in PDP 1.0. Completion of 1.0 is required to take PDP 2.0 or 3.0. We’ve had people who have been in the business for decades take the 1.0 class. It is not a class strictly for beginners; it is for anyone who has not taken PDP before, so you have the information necessary to take your career to the next level in PDP 2.0. PDP 1.0 is the foundation.