Some actors ask to be in front of a film camera the second they show up at our school. Other actors would rather wait until they lose some weight. And others, to our surprise, prefer to learn how to do the job before they have the business end of a film camera pointed in their direction.
Nothing wrong with any of the above. My preference? Hmmm….maybe I will share my EXPERIENCE. Meaning that I got on camera early on in my acting career and I had no idea what I was doing as far as film acting was concerned. Not only did I not understand the nature of filmmaking and how an actor serves that framework, but also I had no idea what to do when they said action. Actually, I did have an idea; I thought that “Action!” meant “FEEL SOMETHING!”. Oh well.
It took me years to learn what film acting was about, and I only learned it by putting in the time. I had to learn to act away from the camera and then in front of the camera, but then I had to learn the basics of sound, shooting, and editing. Finally, I could actually feel confident and even comfortable on a film set. It’s amazing how KNOWING what everyone is up to on that set, what they’re after and WHY, actually makes you feel you belong there and that you’re on the same team. You can now actually serve the process rather than fear it and hope it won’t interfere with your plan to be amazing once the camera rolls.
To recap, acting is acting is acting – once you’re an actor, there is a slight adjustment you make for film acting. So make sure you know what you’re DOING before you start pitching yourself as a film actor – there are some bridges you may not want to burn. And to feel at home on a film set, learn a little about what all those people are up to and how the shoot comes together in post. You can even make your own little movie, but go beyond just shooting your cat on your iPhone. Try to tell a story, plan it out, and see what happens. For practice, you can even reshoot your favorite scene from your favorite movie. We never stop learning as actors; we’ve chosen the one art form that lives at the intersection of so many others.