Giulio Brizzi, star of the new Italian Netflix show Curon, writes a guest blog on his experience of studying the Screen Acting HE Certificate course at Catalyst (formerly dBs Berlin) in 2018/19. Photos by Dico Baskoro.
Attending the one-year Screen Acting Certificate course enriched my life and my personality in many ways. But there is one aspect that strikes me above all, and it’s what the school stands for. I didn’t only get full immersion in the acting world, allowing me to build a solid set of acting skills. But I also learned a valuable lesson as an artist: a lesson about freedom.
To me, Catalyst represents freedom, which I think is the most important lesson an artist has to learn. And by learning, I mean becoming aware of its importance. You have to really live freely to be able to express your passion fully. A quote from the article Are There Rules in Art? encapsulates this idea: “Art is, ultimately, a testimony to man's freedom.”
The actor needs to learn about the freedom of their art – whether that’s tapping into their imagination, using their body as an instrument, or exploring many paths throughout the creative process. The actor needs complete freedom to achieve what they strive for.
Freedom of expression
“Catalyst recognizes all creatives as equals and thus all creations as equal, allowing universal freedom of expression.”
Catalyst represents this philosophy perfectly. It starts from the school’s general vibe: it’s not in any way conservative. Catalyst empowers the idea that you, as an artist, have a voice that wants to say something. And in order to say it, you need to be proactive. It’s not the type of school that babysits you and tells you what you need to do.
It’s a philosophy that applies to success in general. You need to be your own master. You need to nurture your progress and development. Ultimately, you need to put in the work! You have to have a burning desire to do it – something that comes from inside and says, ‘this is what I want to say to the world.’
The freedom of expression at Catalyst is furthermore seen in the institution’s structure. Every student and teacher is part of the collective and a member of Catalyst in equal weight. I think this is the most important thing in the arts: for everyone to be equal.
The structure does not put the teacher on a pedestal as a sort of “guru” whose taste needs to be satisfied. Catalyst recognizes all creatives as equals and thus all creations as equal, facilitating universal freedom of expression. The only parameters of judgment are commitment and authenticity. Plus, since everyone is on the same level, forming relationships is really easy.
A diverse, collaborative community
“Catalyst is sort of a big family – or a big clock that has all the right cogs to always be on time.”
At Catalyst, you have everything you need to create. There are tons of experienced artists who provide you with their help around the clock. There are endless opportunities to collaborate with like-minded people, including film and music production students. All of this allows you to form friendships and professional connections that will stand the test of time.
The cool thing is that everyone wants it. Everyone is willing to help out and everyone wants to engage in everything that is happening. Catalyst is sort of a big family – or a big clock that has all the right cogs to always be on time.
You connect with people from all around the world through a unified passion. It’s not just any passion, but it is the art form that deals the most with humanity and identity: acting. Screen Acting students are put in the same room with beautiful, diverse people with a vast range of ethnicities and points of view.
“You develop wild boar-thick skin that, trust me, you will thank yourself for throughout the rest of your career.”
You won’t get this amount of practical experience anywhere else! From day one of the Screen Acting course, you are shooting something – literally! On the first day, you start and finish your first project. You encounter discomfort day after day, putting you right in the sweet spot to challenge yourself and grow outside of your comfort zone. Once you’ve gone through the fire and you’re a couple of weeks in, you develop wild boar-thick skin that, trust me, you will thank yourself for throughout the rest of your career.
Getting so much practice in such a short time is scary, and it pushes you to your limits. You suck often. It’s tough rewatching yourself, but you still need to go through it. Because, in the process, you learn the valuable lesson of detaching yourself from your performance. You realize that you have created a world, together with an ensemble of artists, that exists independently from your own. You were part of it solely during creating; now it lives on its own. The characters are yours but they aren’t you anymore.
Creativity in the air
“The air you breathe at Catalyst is fantastic. You can smell creativity.”
The air you breathe at Catalyst is fantastic. You can smell creativity. Just on your way to the classroom on a regular Monday morning, you see students trying out their new camera lenses, someone filming a project between rooms, or a couple you haven’t seen together before fighting – which turns out to just be two acting students rehearsing a scene! It just inspires you to do something. If you don’t know yet what you want to do, the Screen Acting program will give you the answers.
For me, it was just the perfect place to land. I came from professional mixed martial arts and wanted to get fully immersed in the acting world. Catalyst was the place to be. I learned so much throughout the year. I feel that I have enriched my spirit and I have met some damn fine people.
My next steps
“The amount of time and work I’ve put into acting recently is incredible, but I’ve been driven the whole time by a burning desire and a burning passion which made it all easy for me.”
I got back to Rome in June last year and set myself the goal of getting an acting job over the summer, working primarily with vibration and visualization (something I might go into in depth another time), and with action. At the end of the summer, I got an agent. I completed a two-day acting job for a Rai Series (Italian television). And I was already looking forward to a 14-week shoot for a Netflix show named Curon.
The amount of time and work I’ve put into acting recently is incredible, but I’ve been driven the whole time by a burning desire and a burning passion which made it all easy for me.
Follow Giulio on Instagram.