November 5, 2016 at 1:15PM


First acting part. Need advice.

Hi there. I just landed the role of an Eastern European bad guy, drug dealer, bank robber dude. Mostly cos I can do the accent. So, it's my first role, I'm well used to performing as a singer and voice over artist but how do I learn my lines? Are there techniques?


In a well-written screen play, once you get past the exposition, every single line moves the action forward decisively. Rather than trying to learn lines as if they are digits of pi, realize that each one leads from one decisive moment to another. If you know the story, then the lines are the gateways to the actions of the story, not arbitrary text. Also, each line is likely associate with a specific action. Marry, in your mind, the line and the action. This is easier said that done, and is best done under the care of a Director. There are some good videos on directing actors, and they all agree that a Director should direct and an actor should act, meaning...don't let the actor make their own decisions about which movements go with which lines. The director should be absolutely clear how the story pays out, and that means THEY SHOULD DIRECT EVERY SINGLE LINE OF THE SCRIPT.

If your director hands you a script and tells you to learn your lines without any direction, they are being lazy and it's not your fault if (1) it's hard to learn the lines, and (2) it's impossible to realize a good shot from the lines and actions you have tried to put together yourself.

November 5, 2016 at 2:14PM


Short answer: I used to spend a lot of time hanging around theatre actors, and many of them listen to recordings of rehearsals while commuting.

Also 100% agree with Michael above, I've also acted in films where the director gave almost no input to the actors and it turned out terribly! Work with your director, show him/her you're serious about the role, and let them direct you on how to best turn the script into their vision.

November 5, 2016 at 7:03PM

Nelli Huie

Find your way through. As an actor myself I worked with a lot of them, and everyone has it's own path to get in the characters and learn their lines.
For example, I'm more an improviser but when the director needs the scene with the exact dialogue, work and practice with the other actors before going on set, and I also set "cue points" in the script (highlight specific words on the script in the lines of your partners so you can learn which dialogue you have to say and when)
If the director isn't too strict about the dialogue, work directly with him, ask him if you think your character would improve if you do an action or a dialogue differently than the script.
If you can improvise, more than the lines learn the story arc of each scene (if the character needs to go to point B from A, how he would do that? how would you do that?)

November 6, 2016 at 5:02PM, Edited November 6, 5:02PM

Alejandro Badillo
Music Producer, Actor, Screenwriter

Hi Andy,
We answered your question on this week's Indie Film Weekly episode!
Good luck!

December 1, 2016 at 8:27AM

Liz Nord
Documentary Filmmaker/Multi-platform Producer

Your Comment