Green Light Your Talent.™
Film Industry Training
 Article by Martin Traz | @ReelAcademy  
[SHOWDOWN] OLD SCHOOL VS NEW SCHOOL: Which Is The Better Performer Training Model?
Which film industry training model will effectively, and efficiently advance your knowledge & skills as a performer in our film industry? Lets find out! (Interactive Article)
There’s a battle being decided.

The future of your industry performer training hangs in the balance.

Your answer will help decide the winner!

Yep! This is an interactive article. It’s a SHOWDOWN!

For most of Hollywood’s history, performers (and most film departments) have really only had a single choice when it came to acquiring the knowledge needed to do their work: traditional classroom training. Not to make many of us feel our age, but we'll call this the Old School Model

Here learners travel to meet in a central classroom where they study a specific topic with an instructor who has presumably been trained in it, or has working experience in it.
Film Training
That has been the norm film industry training model, largely because the World Wide Web, and more specifically online education, didn’t constitute an alternative until the 2000’s. However, with access to the internet, online education (eLearning) and WBT (web-based training) opened up one big barn door to a new, second option for film industry education – which for the purposes of this article, we’ll call the New-School Model.

In this model, learning is delivered over the internet and typically features online modules containing interactive multimedia content, and can also feature social learning activities that utilize social networking sites, forums, and blogs.
Film Industry Education
So the vital question for you is: “Which performer training model is truly more effective to acquire film industry knowledge?”
That’s where YOU come in.

Take a few moments RIGHT NOW to assess the pro's and con's of each, and decide which method is best suited for YOUR learning style... 

...So that you can learn more effectively, efficiently, and retain more knowledge for easier recall when you need it (a few moments of your time now will reap long-term benefits both as a performer AND as a lifelong student outside this industry)

And Rocky and the Terminator have stepped in to help you!

For fun, each learning model will be represented by an easily recognizable, Hollywood face:
  • Stallone in Rocky, to represent the Old School, traditional classroom training model; and
  •  Schwarzenegger in Terminator, to represent the New School, tech assisted training model. 
Film Industry Training
Film industry Training
Disregarding which hero you would like to see win in a showdown, and which model these heroes would actually pick (they both proved unavailable for comment, especially Stallone), let’s focus on the training models themselves, and the characteristics of each.

Let’s have FUN with your assessment!
Below you’ll find 6 rounds of battle. Each round represents a discussion point for effective performer training, along with the pros and cons for each training model. Each round receives a winning decision based on the presented data.

Your role is to weigh the pros and cons for each round, and crown the winner.

Okay, enough warm-up chat.

Get into the ring! Let the battle begin!

*Ding Ding* 
TEACHING MODEL - The structure by which information is communicated from a teacher, and is received by the learners. 
Old School:

The delivery is teacher-centered and -paced. Usually a single teacher (trainer or instructor) stands at the front of a physical room, leading a timed class, and verbally teaches the participants (sometimes with the help of visual aids). This is a largely passive learning environment (you fondly remember this part of school, no doubt). There was usually little technology involved, sometimes none at all, therefore this model has relative ease of access. If you can show up on time for class and not skip, all you need to bring are your ears (although a notebook and pen are usually recommended).

Classroom training carries with it a lot of familiarity and tradition. It’s the style many of us were brought up with, and have personal experience with. We tend to perceive a live teacher as a figure of authority on the subject matter, and therefore perceive the content being taught as of high quality. The downside is that this can possibly create a learner’s “dependency on the trainer”, whereby the learner doubts ideas and opinions that are not specifically brought forward by the teacher. Also, in this traditional model these classroom sessions are usually exclusive to the organization’s members/roster, meaning only those folks that have access to the organization can benefit from the training.

For those that are invited, showing up at a specific physical location at a specific time is not always possible for all. For some, that may mean long distance travel; especially in the larger filming centers where the population tends to be more sprawled out. For others a fixed training date and time is a problem. Training sessions in the film industry are often scheduled on days and times where the individual would ideally like to be working instead (on set or elsewhere), forcing them to have to decide between learning or working.

New School:

The delivery is learner-centred, whereby each learner acquires knowledge from content online (like an eCourse or membership site) and moves actively through the content at the their own individual pace (also referred to as self-paced learning). This fosters an environment for knowledge acquisition that is intrinsically motivated, and encourages developing independency from the trainer. The downside is that web based training is still relatively new to the grand timeline of education (having been broadly utilized by educators since the early 2000s), therefore it still carries a perceived skepticism toward the quality of the content.

In order for web based training to work, the learner does require technology like a laptop, tablet, or phone to access the content. If they don’t have access to technology, they’re not going to be able to participate (although if you’re reading this right now I don’t assume you’re one of those folks). In addition, they need the capability to use this technology. In the past, online learning platforms required software downloads and a learning curve to understand how to navigate through the courses. Today knowledge platforms are as simple to use as your Gmail account: you login, choose your module, and consume it, much like opening, selecting and reading an email.

Those who increasingly utilize technology will find this model tremendously advantageous. Remote access through technology facilitates the ability of individuals who might not otherwise be able to travel to a specific location and time, to acquire this knowledge on their devices instead. When you can login and access the information from any internet-connected device, your possibilities for education are limitless. Online access also democratises access to information. It no longer matters who’s your agent or agency what your level of experience is, or where in the country you live – you have equal access to the same content, and that’s a beautiful thing for the future of this industry.

Some individuals may view the independence as a drawback, as not all learners have the discipline to learn without the personal oversight. Other individuals see it as a huge advantage, as they may study the content whenever they wish; and with the option to consume content in bite-sized, micro-learning segments. This is particularly beneficial for slower learners (or really young performers) that require additional time to learn a concept. Faster learners can move at a paced that suits them as well. Experienced individuals can skip over familiar content, while newcomers can dive into every new learning piece--- a differentiation that the traditional classroom is not able to offer.

Okay, based on the information shared in round 1, which teaching model do you believe is the optimal choice for getting knowledge out to more individuals in the industry, and therefore should win this round?
GREAT! Round logged. 5 rounds to go! 
Scroll down for next round...
CONTENT SOURCE – The origin of the wisdom that is being communicated to industry learners. 
Old School:

In the traditional classroom-based performer training model the trainer historically gets their content sourced from their personal experiences – which we call “experiential content”, or “past informed”. If the trainer has a long history of reputable experience in the industry, the learners can benefit from that by having rich content delivered around the trainer’s specific subjective experience. The drawback with experiential content is that most trainer experience is often limited to one (or few) departments in the industry, therefore learners will find that their training is narrowly focused.

To nullify this limitation, trainers sometimes source content from their immediate sphere of contacts, such as the folks they most closely work with in related departments (such as talent agents reaching out to casting directors for additional information). While this expands the trainer’s knowledge base, it can also have the effect of disproportionally emphasizing teaching points of the contacts that have the greatest influence over trainer’s working relationships.

It is important to note here that experiential content is based on experience on the past. Therefore, content being sourced in this manner can be by nature outdated for the current filming environment. Also, because every trainer’s experience is unique (as well as the experiences of their contact sphere), it can create inconsistency of knowledge in the industry. What is taught by one trainer is not guaranteed to be taught by another (heck, not even to two different learners by the same trainer!). The combination of these two drawbacks can result in a ‘Knowledge Gap’ between what performers collectively need to know, and what they are being individually taught.

New School:

The New School model uses ‘researched content’ (present informed). The trainer should still contribute their personal experience, however the focus is taken off of the trainer’s resume. Instead, wisdom is sourced from current working professionals across the industry, to contribute insights on the best working procedures that would positively impact the present day working environment. This shifts the knowledge perspective from being reactive to proactive.

Expanding the knowledge source in this way, from an individual’s experience to one of an entire national industry, comes with the huge benefit of sharing a much greater breadth and depth of knowledge amongst the learners. Of course, this kind of knowledge sourcing is not possible without its drawbacks. There’s a whole new level of investment, infrastructure and build-time needed to seek out knowledge across unfamiliar contacts, in departments that you’re not closely connected with. There’s more relationship building involved, a lot more advisor vetting, and a lot more back and forth communication. Also, when you invite more voices to the conversation, there’s more opportunity for disagreement. It is up to the content curator to find the overlaps, the most common practices industry wide, and at times to exclude extreme outside ideas. When the content is being sourced and distributed industry wide, it needs to be applicable industry wide.

The positive result is that industry wide ‘common agreement’ and overlap of ideas reinforces the most useful practices, tends to foster an industry environment where the content that is communicated is consistent from region to region, and performer to performer. Once the ‘best practices’ are agreed upon, and the online knowledge database is built, it can be quite simple and quick to update, leading to quicker iterations of improvement in the industry. By the nature of the knowledge database living online, updates can be viewed by new learners within seconds of the changes. 

Okay, based on the information shared in round 2, which content source do you believe delivers the best quality of content to our industry performers, and therefore should win this round?
GREAT! Round logged. 4 rounds to go! 
Scroll down for next round...
LEARNER FOCUS – The consistency of active, learner engagement, with the content the learner is receiving. 
Old School:

Unless your traditional classroom has a TV in it showing reruns of the Simpsons (Doh!), or you’re allowed to play Candy Crush on your phone, chances are you will be focused on learning. The traditional classroom tends to avoid such distractions. It’s just you and other learners, a teacher, and four walls ---allowing you to focus on the training at hand. That doesn’t mean, however, that the classroom setting is completely void of focus problems.

Classroom sessions tend to pack a LOT of content into each sitting. In the film industry (and specifically with performer training at agencies) those sessions are just ONE day–- meaning they are going to pack everything you have to know in that one sitting, and do it primarily with verbal communication. Some trainers may use some visual aids for added demonstration, but historically most of the training will be communicated by word of mouth (single medium delivery). That’s great for auditory learners, but not so much for those learners that need to engage with the content in a visual or demonstrative way. For those learners, it may be more difficult to conform to that medium of content delivery, and therefore actually more challenging to focus. This can be alleviated somewhat by the teacher making accommodations to more visually-oriented students through different methods. This requires more preparation on the part of the teacher, but it can obviously make a difference in effectiveness.

The greatest challenge to focus in the traditional classroom is the ‘singular path of learning’. The trainer has planned a very specific lesson for the day and is going to cover it all, regardless of where each individual stands (or sits), as they must address the mass of learners in the classroom. Learners don’t come into the classroom with the same degrees of pre-existing knowledge; therefore, if the trainer is covering topics some already understand, they’re going to get bored, zone out, and maybe even pass out (I’ve been there too!). Which brings me to this point: “A learner can be physically present in a classroom, but mentally absent, and no one would know.” So as it turns out, focus remains a challenge even in a face-to-face traditional classroom setting (with someone telling you to stay awake!).

New School:

We are easily distracted by a million and one things on the internet, with no teacher looking over our shoulder. This can pose a problem with New School, online learning for individuals who lack the discipline to focus on the task at hand without being diverted by other notifications (life-changing ones, like you just got another life in Candy Crush!). Yes, online distraction can be a nemesis for engaging in eLearning. However, if we step back and look at ‘distraction’ as a mere ‘lack of focus’, we can actually use the New School model to solve that problem.

By being able to self-direct our learning, we can filter out our pre-existing knowledge. If something is brand new to us, we may better learn it. Once we know it, we can skip it and move onto the next new, interesting content piece. We’re being strategic with our focus and energy, actually staying engaged more. By being more engaged and excited, we’re also likely participating in more cross-over learning (where we opt to learn peripheral job tasks as well, such as a background performer that also chooses to additionally master content on ‘standing-in’).

Online learning courses tend to come packaged in various mediums of content delivery including text, audio, video, and even interactive (gamification). By switching the modality once in a while, it keeps learning ‘bite-sized’ and interesting. Multimedia learning also allows for simplifying complex learning subjects in a way that straight verbal communication would struggle with, and appeals to more learning types - which is, again, good for focus.

Okay, based on the information shared in Round 3, which model do you believe offers the best characteristics for learner focus, and therefore should win this round?
GREAT! Round logged. 3 rounds to go! 
Scroll down for next round...
Still hanging in there?! This is no place to rest...
We’re all counting on you ! (we need your votes, your punches, so to speak). 

Get back in the ring and see this through!
PERMANENCE – The degree to which we are able to recall and reference our newly learned knowledge. 
Old School:

If we are to take the time to learn something new, we had better be able to remember it. If not, then at least we should be able to easily return to the material. Right? What else would be the point of learning something new? Unfortunately, the topic of permanence is often the main drawback of the traditional model--- not having some information available to us whenever we want it.

In addition to being essentially forced to learn a lot in a single setting, we are also challenged with insufficient time to discuss our insights and then immediately put the knowledge into practice. In traditional educational institutions like universities they leap this hurdle by forcing homework, future reviews of the topic, and of course testing (thereby requiring even more study and further review). In the film industry that is rarely the case, where performer training happens in a single day without time for further discussion afterwards.

You are unable to re-access this content, making this learning more impermanent. That is, unless you took copious amounts of notes during the training, and you’re able to reinterpret the paraphrased information sufficiently afterwards. Personally, that was never the case for me (which is why I don’t remember anything with sufficient understanding from my high school and college courses to be able to stand in front of a group and teach it). Therefore, learning an overabundance of content in a classroom session, and then not being able to sufficiently re-access that content, constitutes a real threat against the effectiveness of the traditional model.  

New School:

The New School model understandably has an advantage here. A well placed jab to the Old School model. It’s tough to compete against permanent access. In the New School the content is held in a ‘knowledge hub’ online where learners can login as many times as they wish to re-learn, review, and reference the content at will (as long as they maintain their access). In fact, the content can even be referenced at the moment it is needed thanks to mobile technology like smart phones and tablets (such as a performer logging into an online knowledge hub from their mobile phone, from a film set, to access sign-in paperwork templates to ensure that they are filling in their paperwork correctly).

Being able to re-access content at will also encourages ‘lifelong learning’. It’s not just a flash in the pan ‘mandatory training session’. It encourages learners to want to be accurate and knowledgeable in their craft – which is a necessary attitude to have for the future of the film industry.   

Okay, admittedly the New School model landed a few more punches in this round. Still, based upon the information shared in Round 4, which model do you believe promotes more knowledge permanence, and therefore win this round?
GREAT! Round logged. 2 rounds to go! 
Scroll down for next round...
FEEDBACK LOOP – The ability for learners to ask questions and get feedback.
Old School:

After the last round, the Old School model took some solid jabs to the chin, but it’s not down. The traditional classroom has a lot of strength when it comes to giving and receiving learner feedback. The value of face-to-face human interaction in the digital age cannot be overrated.

In the traditional classroom model, the learners and the trainer are in person, face to face, and engaging live. That is a great recipe for the ‘feedback loop’. As long as time and the trainer allow it, learners in a classroom have the opportunity to receive quick feedback on their follow-up questions. That quick, face-to-face follow-up has a high perceived value among learners. Also, as a side benefit, there are often peer learners with varying personal experiences and past knowledge that can contribute to the in-classroom discussions – bringing in a peripheral dynamic to each discussion.

These instant discussions are most useful when the trainer knows the answers to all the learner questions, so the level of ‘experiential content’ the trainer has plays a big factor in taking advantage of this benefit (succinctly, how skilled is the teacher?). If the trainer doesn’t have the specific answer, then the question can end up unanswered, especially if it was a one-time, one-day training session. That’s because a traditional classroom discussion tends to start and end within that training session, and things left untaught are just that.

Instant classroom discussions are great for single questions that lead to single answers, but in a case where deep, thoughtful discussions are warranted, the conversation has little room to evolve. Conversations typically reach their end once the session is finished. They normally don’t continue to evolve unless additional effort is made by individuals to create their own extra-classroom community and keep the discussion alive - like some folks do in Facebook groups (evidence of the online, New School model, already integrating itself into the Old School model).

New School:

The feedback loop for the New School model can at times mirror the style of the Old School. If the content is being delivered during a web cast (with a specific start and end time), then the same pros and cons can apply as the Old School model. What we see most frequently with the New School model, though, is evergreen “knowledge hubs” of content. The feedback loop in these situations is markedly different. It’s not live. Discussions develop around a forum or comment section, where there are usually periods of delay and thought between inquiry and feedback. That can be a negative if urgency is required. It can also be a positive when time for reflection is available.

Trainers that have more time to review comments and think on them, tend to provide more thoughtful and thorough insights (a good teacher must be a good student). The level of reflection prior to answering is critical. This can be the same for peer learners if they have access to review, join, and comment in the same discussion threads. The extra time to reply also means that if the trainer doesn’t know the answer to a question, he or she has the option to go to their network to retrieve the best answer, and then continue the conversation in the forum or comment section. This approach can promote the development of a digital community around a specific topic right within the learning platform, and have that conversation grow and evolve over a long time. There is no reason to have the conversation thread expire. As more information comes in, the conversation continues to evolve. For those individuals who love to reflect on their learning a bit more on their own timeline, share it, and receive feedback, this is an excellent model.

Based on the information shared in Round 5, which feedback loop do you believe is a better model for answering questions as well as creating higher quality discussions – and therefore should win this round?
This is it! Last round! Let’s finish strong!
GREAT! Round logged. 1 round to go! 
Scroll down for next round...
SOCIAL INTERACTION – Learner to trainer, and learner to learner peer interaction. 
Old School:

The Old School model really rocks in facilitating social connectivity. It is the original social network. It is immediate, intimate human interaction. Raising hands, asking questions, and partaking in discussions is a big part of how the traditional classroom is approached – therefore engagement can be quite high. This is especially true because of the added benefit of face-to-face peer learner interaction. Learners can ask each other questions, share opinions, and collaborate on answers immediately and face to face.

When you’re in the same physical environment, partaking in a similar interest, you’re also bound to come across some new connections, learners and trainers alike. You can find opportunities to expand your peer social network in this way. That is, of course, if the extroverted group dynamic works for you. The movie business is filled with just as many introverts as it is with extroverts, like any other work environment; and not everyone is comfortable with orchestrated group social interaction.

Classroom group social dynamics are just as prone to exclusion as inclusion, like most human activities. Shy learners may feel a lack of confidence, and purposely withdraw themselves from the learning process, creating disparity in the level of engagement. The more dominant personalities in the room might inadvertently command the bulk of the classroom discussions, and unintentionally establish hierarchies amongst the peers. This holds the possibility of leading to increased anxiety amongst the shier learners, if the trainer is not experienced and skilled enough to sense/foresee this and head it off. 

New School:

When you think of online learning, you probably envision someone sitting at home in the dark with their computer, alone and very isolated from their peers. This certainly can be true, if measures aren’t taken to actively promote social interaction through online learning (having your “head in the cloud” once only meant you were a “dreamer”, and not a recluse). Isolated learning can lead to frustration, anxiety, and confusion. It’s why the first pioneer institutions to try online learning saw high student attrition rates (students abandoning their studies). There was a lack of support and connection with the instructor.

Recent evolvement of the New School model includes a lot more attention to the importance of breaking down that learner isolation, and fostering an environment where social peer-to-peer connectivity is restored. This has been advanced by incorporating multiple avenues of communication such as discussion boards, forums, synchronous chat, email, and social platforms like Facebook groups. Although these alternatives are subjectively not as powerful as face-to-face interactions, they do offer some benefits over face-to-face when implemented properly (and ‘properly’ is the keyword here).

In order for online social interaction to work, the instructor must act as a monitor and participant, just as in the Old School model. They must give CLEAR instructions as to what must be done and discussed. Finally, they must discourage bullying, showing plainly why it is unacceptable, and have a zero-tolerance policy to achieve compliance. When done well, online social communities and their discussions can foster great environments for collaboration and life-long learning.

Online communication offers a level of anonymity that public spaces can’t. Learners who otherwise would be too intimidated to partake of the social dynamic of a traditional classroom, may feel a little more confidence in participating in discussions online when not confronted face-to face with another individual. This level of anonymity to both peers and the instructor can create more equal opportunity and attention for the learner. The greatly larger national network of peers also introduces more perspectives and insights for greater collaboration and expansive social connection. 

Based on the information shared in Round 6, which environment fosters more quality social interaction while learning, and therefore should win this round?
GREAT! Round logged. Almost done!
Scroll down to vote the winner...
*Ding Ding*

That’s it! It was a slugfest, but no KO!

You now hold both fighters’ hands. Which one will you raise? Judges, let’s have the score please!

It’s time to tally up the votes for each side above and crown a champion by selecting the red or blue button below (irrespective of who your action hero is).
Your score card tally:
Your score card tally:
You haven't selected any of the round winners yet! Scroll back up and select a winner for each round to fill up your score card first!
Nice work! *HIGH FIVE*

You now have a MUCH better idea about how you best like to acquire knowledge! That means now you can focus your energy on organizations, talent pools, and courses that cater to your learning style - and therefore make you a smarter, more skilled performer, FASTER! 
Share a screenshot of your above results on Facebook and you'll be entered for a chance to win a $100 CAN Amazon gift card! (Sweeeet!) In order to be eligible you must reside in Canada, be 18+ years old, and you must meet ALL FIVE conditions below:

1) Your screen shot MUST include the winning image (ideally include all tally icons too)

2) Your post text MUST include: Which film industry training model (or action hero) ended up winning this battle for you AND what was the deciding blow!

3) You MUST tag "@ReelAcademy" in your shared post. Ensure the tag turns into Facebook's blue hyperlink to the fan page (so we can track your entry)

4) You MUST link back to this article:

5) You MUST post your entry prior to midnight PST on October 10, 2018

Winner will be drawn and notified on October 12, 2018 via social profile that shared the entry.
But wait!!!

The benefits don’t stop there for YOU!

Now that you know your preferred training style, you can optimize your learning opportunities with the Old School Model if you choose. This is where I can personally help you out in a truly BIG way:

If you’re a film industry performer I’d like to personally invite you to:

It’s the ultimate tool for finding those agents and casting houses that are not only looking for fresh faces for their talent roster, but also for knowing which of them still offer the Old School training model. The directory has 300+ listings (100% Canadian), many of which have premium company information like “who provides performer training?”, and “how is that training delivered?” (online, or in a classroom, aka Old School model).

In addition, the directory also covers for many listings: all contact information, their booking specialties, application procedures, talent pool roster size, staff size, and casting software. It’s is really awesome for finding the right representation to get the bookings that you truly desire.

It’s the perfect film industry resource for finding those agencies and casting houses that offer the Old School training model.
But wait!!!

The benefits don’t stop there for YOU!

Now that you know your preferred training style, you can optimize your learning opportunities with the New School Model. This is where I can personally help you out in a truly BIG way:

If you’re a film industry performer I’d like to personally invite you to:

This online hub has been built with the New School model framework. The courses and content live online inside a membership portal that you can access (and re-access) from any internet connected device (laptops, tablets, and smartphones), anytime, on-demand; and you can digest the knowledge at your own individual pace. It doesn’t matter who your agent or agency is, your level of experience, or what region you live in – you now have equal access to the same knowledge.

The content is ‘researched knowledge’ that has been advised on by 30+ industry consultants from every film department, in every filming region, and is current for today’s filming environment. To keep learning interesting we’ve delivered that content in the form of text, audio, videos, and interactive exercises; which helps break down more complex topics, as well as appeal to all learning types. We update the content regularly, and we’re always building new courses and mini-workshops to expand performer knowledge.

It’s the perfect film industry training resource for life-long learning so that you can always do your best work as a performer!
If you enjoyed this interactive read, please share this article with your industry colleagues by clicking the share links below. The more voices (votes) we have industry wide, the better we will collectively move forward together to build the best training model for our film industry talent.

Thank you.

- Martin 

About Martin Traz

Martin Traz is the founder and director of

Since being inspired by the magic of movie making as a performer, Martin has shared this experience with principal performers, models, stand-ins, and background actors. He has booked thousands of performer set days across films, TV shows, pilots, and commercials. Today, Martin focuses on curating knowledge and developing tools for the Canadian film industry so that everyone can do their best work. Connect with Martin on Facebook.
Martin Traz
Yes, you're welcome to share this post; in fact, we encourage it! ;)
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