April 12, 2012
Forum School Of Acting
Answers to various acting questions I get from aspiring actors and actresses.
Q: I’d like for you to recommend to me a few reputable on camera acting classes. My roommate goes to an on-camera acting class with working actors, but the instructor seems to like telling stories more than teaching. Can you help?
A: I’m not aware of any ‘reputable’ on-camera acting classes.
There’s not really all that much to ‘camera technique’ that would require a separate class to master. I’ll help you as best I can, the work you put in is up to you…
1- Hit your marks, without fail, without looking, every time.
2- Try to limit extraneous movement, especially in the 2, 3 or group shot.
3- Give measurable gaps in audio when doing close-ups. (Don’t talk over the other actors.)
4- Don’t make extraneous noises while delivering dialogue. (i.e., pounding your fist on a desk, slamming a door, rustling a paper, etc.) The loose rule is ‘action, then dialogue’.
5- Always maintain emotional and physical continuity between takes.
6- Don’t look at the camera.
The way you get good at doing all of this is to practice it as often as you can. If you wait to figure this stuff out on set, it’s not going to work for you. The only expense of training your acting this way is time, as in, you can get a group of actor friends together and practice doing these things with a video camera and a script from a play.
If you DO practice these things religiously, say like 3 or 4 times a week, 3 or 4 hours at a shot, you’ll have pretty well mastered it in a year or two. As in, you could do it unconsciously after that amount of work and time. That way, when you actually get an acting job, you’ll look like you know what you’re doing.
Do less and it will show, I assure you.
I don’t personally think anyone would go to an acting class where all they did all day was walk and hit marks and then do 3 lines from a play over and over and over and over and over, making sure that they do it physically and emotionally the same every time. Nor, do I think anyone would go to an acting class where they do ‘close-ups’ and practice doing the same 3 lines over and over and over and over, except putting weird gaps in the dialogue.
It sounds boring even as I type it…but, that’s what camera work is all about.
I talk about this stuff in a lot more detail in my book Acting for Film and Television: A Professional Guidebook.
Hope this helps you and best of luck out there!
As always, if you have any questions or thoughts, or would just like to share some of your successes, please feel free to drop me a line. I actually answer them.
Best of Luck out there and remember, you can’t fail if you don’t quit.