Archive for April, 2010

Apr 13 – Acting for the Camera

Posted in Acting, actor, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , on April 13, 2010 by actingchick

So I’ve been a little remiss in my blog updating, mostly because not much has been happening on the acting front these days, that is until recently.  Nothing super exciting, I haven’t gotten any great acting gigs, but at least these things are acting related and will hopefully further my career.

First of all I got new headshots.  I chopped my hair off a few weeks ago, and adding to that the fact I’ve lost some weight, I don’t really look much like my old headshots.  And since you are supposed to look like your headshot (or your headshot is supposed to look like you) to avoid pissing of the casting directors when you walk in the door, I had to get new ones taken.

I went back to Mark Brennan.  I think he does good work.  My only complaint is that my headshots look like me.  I know there supposed to, but somehow I keep hoping that I will suddenly get 25% more attractive, and my hair will get thicker, and my nose will get, well I don’t know, less like my nose I guess.  But those are my hang-ups and Mark does make me look pretty good.

The second thing I have done is to take a more  in-depth Acting for the Camera class.  This time from Tony Doupe, who was recommended by Jodi Rothfield, whose one day class Auditioning for the Camera I had taken and wrote about in a previous post.

I’m really liking it so for.  It is sort of an extension of Jodi’s class in that it covers some of the same material, and even more.  Tony talks about auditioning and the things you need to do for that, but the class goes further in terms of types of work you would be doing.  Industrial videos, commercials, film and television.  It’s sort of a sampler class, a little bit of this a little bit of that.

The first class we did an industrial training video.  The sort of things company’s show their employees.  Our subject happened to be sexual harassment.  We broke into pairs and were given short scenes to perform.  We were given about 20 minutes to work with our partner and to run lines.

Then Tony set up the camera and we shot the scenes.  We did multiple takes with one person in the camera view and then reset the camera so the other person was in camera.   We also brought video tapes on which our performances were recorded and we could take them home and watch them.  I don’t have a VCR at the moment so I haven’t watched it (and I’m not sure I could bring myself to do it anyway if I did).

We were also given commercials to memorize for the next class, where we had to do a walk and talk.  You see it all the time on commercials and news type segments where the host or actor is walking and telling you whatever it is they have to tell you.  I would just like to say that this is a lot harder than it looks.  A lot.

The set up was to pretend to be leaving our apartment, then “naturally” start talking to the camera, saying our commercial spiel,  as we started to walk down the hallway.  There were three points we had to hit marked out with yellow sticky notes on the floor.  At each of these points we had to pause, say some of our text, and then natural move onto the next point.

When I see these people on TV doing this now I have a lot more respect.

We practiced a cold reading like it would be in an audition circumstance.  We got a partner and a scene, had about 10 minutes to run through it and then we were up in front of the camera.  Tony directed us a bit, critiqued us a bit.  Then for the next week we were to memorize those scenes and do them as if we were doing a film or television episode. More on that later.

Overall I really like the class.  It is an interesting mix of people.  We have teenagers to people in their 50’s.  More women than men, which seems to be typical of acting classes.  Some people hadn’t done any acting before, some had done it in high school and college many years before.  In fact I am probably, with one possible exception, the most trained person there, which is an oddly incongruous feeling,  since I feel like a newbie to acting.

I like learning about camera acting, which is different from theater acting.  Not that the actual acting is so different, it’s  that you have more constraints on you when the camera is on you.  You can only move so much or you’ll be out of frame. You have to take into account how your physical actions have to be repeated the same each take to facilitate editing.  You have to know how to hit your marks and stay in your light.  You sometimes have to pretend the camera, an inanimate object made of plastic and metal, is a person you have to connect with.  It’s challenging, and fun, and challenging.  And fun.