Lydia's Journey BEYOND Hollywood

Follow an actress's journey beyond Hollywood. The life after a successful 10 year career...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Acting for the Camera

I went to a free event last night that the SAG Foundation was hosting. It was an on-camera workshop. It was very interesting, to say the least. The man speaking/teaching had a very different "technique" than what I am used to seeing. He basically directed every move the actor made on camera. "On this line look here, on that word raise your finger, and when that is said, turn your head to the right." It was so freakin' robotic and rehearsed - too much rehearsal for my taste. My annoyance with this man and his method quickly rose within the first 30 minutes. One of my buddies, who I had been texting throughout the workshop, asked about the "organic" part of acting, and when does that come in? We were both really confused at this technique. It didn't feel like acting at all - felt very technical and rehearsed. The man basically scoffed at his question and said "Everything you learned about "feeling" in acting class, put that away in a shoebox and roll it under your bed. You need to know this first."
As much as I wanted to disagree with everything that this man said - he did make some sense, to a point. These past 2 jobs I had definately came to mind. We are trained to be real in a scene. "Acting comes from truth." "You have to feel the emotion in a scene"....yet, that is damn near impossible when you have to know your mark, know your lighting, know your frame so you don't move out of it, make sure you bring your prop into the frame on a certain line, and look at the side of the camera for the eye line of your co-star instead of their actual eyes. Acting for the camera is probably the most unnatural thing to do!
I remember having to do a very emotional scene for the pilot earlier this year. We were doing a car scene and were mounted on this trailer bed with the camera crew, lighting guys, sound guys, AND director and producers all staring right back at us through the windshield. While driving around the busiest part of Vancouver at 9pm at night! And I had to do the emotional scene where I'm crying about my husband being hurt, then I quickly change to anger when I find out he has been cheating on me! All in one scene! And I had to do it over and over and over again. Very draining, and sometimes I didn't even get to the emotion that I needed in every take!
And most recently, while shooting Lincoln Heights, I had to hit my mark while being very mad at my husband (hmm...a coincidence?) and bring the bottle of Vegetable oil he bought me into the frame. Not the most natural thing to do, yet somehow I was responsible for making it as real as possible. That's my job. I think its different when you're coming from a theater background where you don't really have to worry about all those details, you can just let loose and explore a character and run with it on stage every night.
So I guess he did make sense. The trick is...the talent is... doing ALL OF THAT, and making it real at the same time! I just wish he presented it better. The funny thing about all of this is, after doing some research on the guy to see what his background was (Since he was pretty apprehensive about revealing it to the crowd) I discovered he didn't have experience as an actor or a director himself. He used to be a set medic!
Interesting...a set medic teaching actors how to act on camera....???


Blogger kat said...

Acting for the camera is totally acting in a box. It's far less natural (in my humble opinion) than acting on the stage. There are too many parameters to meet in order to "get it right" and hardly any of them have to do with your connection to your character.


9:49 AM  

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