Screen acting calls for more subtlety in your acting work. We are sharing 4 tips to help you be a better actor on camera.
The camera lens will pick up on the slightest blink of your eye. In theatre the actors must be aware of vocal projection and physical expression. The actor always needs to be heard by the people siting in the back row. With film acting, you have a microphone either on your body or boom mic being operated. The camera is picking up all your behavior and won’t miss a thing. You need to be aware of the fact that less is more when it comes to working in film as a performer, without losing your sense of truth.
Having said all that, what are some techniques you can have in your arsenal so that you may be a better actor on camera?
Know your angle. Before the director says action, you need to know whether the take will be a close-up, three quarter shot or a master. There are plenty more various camera angles used to capture a scene with an actor. It’s important to at least understand the basics. The director and/or dp will involve you with the knowledge of what the ‘next set up’ (camera angle/shot) will be so you are aware. If you aren’t told, make sure you ask. Just because the camera is aimed at you from far away does not mean it still isn’t a close-up. Always be sure to know.
Know your framing. From what two points are you permitted to move from side to side or stand up or sit down. Understand the framing so when camera is rolling you don’t accidentally go out of frame. There can be terrific work getting captured and going out of frame can spoil a good scene. Again, you are normally told this information but it is always advised to ask if you are unsure.
Know your eyeline. It’s important that during a scene you don’t stare into the camera, unless the director wants that for his/her shot. There are times when the other actor is off camera and they will be standing right beside the lens of the camera. Be sure to note where exactly the other actor will be sitting or standing so you have correct eyeline.
There are times when the director/dp will ask you to not even look at the other actor. Instead, you may be asked to look at an object to the side of the camera. This may seem awkward and it is but what the camera sees makes all the sense in that fictional realm. You must trust that your eyeline is right when told where to look from your director.
In most cases, you won’t come up against this but be prepared for it when you do by being aware that it does happen. Always be sure you have the correct eyeline if uncertain. Also, if there are distraction within your eyeline that are taking you out of the scene, be sure to express your concern by making the director aware of it instantly.
Be indirect. The camera does exist and in fact your entire performance is for the camera because in actuality it is for the audience that will be watching you. It’s a good technique to have an indirect relationship with the camera. Not necessarily playing to the camera so much as including the camera in your work. Sort of like another person in the room you know is watching but you don’t make conscious reference too. You communicate to your scene partner but you are also indirectly communicating what you are expressing to the camera as well.
Having these basic skill sets will help you be a better actor on camera. Directors and cinematographers will enjoy working with you that much more because they will see that you have an understanding of production.