I had the opportunity yesterday to speak before a group of young actors and share with them some important things about acting in front of the camera. The class was very productive and I think I left them with some valuable information.. So, if you are a young actor, new to the world of film production, allow me to share with you some of the things I shared with the students yesterday.
If you want to work in film and you live in a smaller market, be prepared to work for free. This is especially true if the project is a short film. However, you will gain some great experience and will be able to start building a reel. If you’re looking for paid work, I would suggest getting involved with a local agency. They will help you find commercial work that will pay.
As a young actor, it may be tempting to jump in with both feet when you read the words “Film Auditions.” After all, who doesn’t want to be in a movie? But I would suggest taking the time to find out more about the production company before you get involved. Look at their work. How’s the production quality? Would you be proud to have your name associated with the kind of work they produce? Maintain a sense of pride about yourself and your craft.
Consider being an extra in a production. This will give you valuable on-set experience and will help you get introduced to some important people.
Preparing for the Audition
Always have a headshot ready to go. It should be a single image with your resume stapled to the back. Your resume should be a single sheet and it should be attached so that a casting director can flip the headshot over read your resume. Don’t add on extra photos or extra sheets. Don’t paper clip items together, because your resume could get separated from your headshot. This means a casting director could have your picture without having any idea who you are or how to get in contact with you.
If you pride yourself on being a character actor and can offer a director a wide range of looks, you can always create a composite headshot. The composite would contain your main headshot and then two or three other images (on the same sheet) of you portraying particular character.
Every audition can be a little different, but you need to be prepared for the following:
- On-camera introduction
- Cold read
- Informal interview
When you are on camera shooting a scene, remember that continuity is very important. This means that you have to do the exact same blocking in the exact same way for every take. This is to help the editor match footage together when the film is being assembled.
You also want to think subtle. In the theatre everything is big, because you have to project to the back row. Film is a much more intimate medium. The slightest change in facial expression can be read by the audience. If you play it up too big, you will be over-acting.
Finally, continue acting until the director says, “Cut.” Many directors want their actors to continue the scene and improv additional dialogue and action just to see what happens. Sometimes the best material can be found in these moments. So, don’t break character until you here the “Cut” command.
We went over a lot more material in yesterday’s class, so I might post a series of notes on acting for the camera in the next few days.