Acting 101

Acting can seem like a daunting task. There’s all that terminology, plus you need to have confidence, and of course there are all those famous people who’ve appeared on camera before you, which can be a lot to live up to. But acting isn’t as hard as it looks, and you don’t even need to be famous to do it. During a recent shoot here in the office, a friendly visitor dropped by to help me perform my best. Check it out:

Experienced Actorson really helped me out with Dan's movie, and now I'd like to pass on my newly acquired acting prowess to you. Let's review:

Scripts & Auditions:

  • A script is the written form of the part you will be playing. These pages contain the lines (or dialogue) of all the characters in the movie, as well as stage directions and other information.

  • Your part will be labeled by your character's name. The words underneath your character's name are your lines. The term "sides" is also used to describe the lines you shoot on a particular day.

  • It's a good idea to highlight your lines and read them over until you have them memorized. When you don’t need the script anymore, this is known as being "off book." There's no shortcut to memorization — just take the time to repeat your lines until you can recite them in your sleep.

  • For some auditions, you'll see the phrase "sides provided." This means a scripted part will be prepared for you to read at the audition, so you don't need to bring something to perform.

Building your character:

  • Once you have your lines down, it's time to create the character around them — this is what most people consider "acting" or "playing a part."

  • To build your character, look at the situation they’re in and what they are planning to do. Have you ever been in a similar situation? How did you react? If you haven’t had a similar experience, use your imagination and conjure up some feelings. Take these emotions into account when reciting the lines.

  • Listen for director feedback. Your director will watch you closely, and their thoughts can help shape your performance. The director may ask you to read lines with different inflections, or request that you adjust your position. Always be open to their suggestions, and don't be afraid to make some of your own.

Being on set:

  • A mark is the place where an actor should stand in a scene or shot. It's normally set on the ground as a T-shaped piece of tape, showing where the actor should place their feet. For shots where actors are walking or moving, you can have beginning and ending marks. Marks don’t always have to be pieces of tape — they can be anything an actor can see, but normally they’re something not visible (or noticed by) the audience.

  • When it comes time to shoot, you may find yourself getting nervous, but don't worry! Take time to relax before and after shots. Sometimes actions like jumping up and down, blowing air through your lips, doing stretches, or reciting phrases can help. All actors use their own techniques to keep themselves calm, cool, and collected, so if you find something that works for you, go with it! Finally, don't worry about how you look on camera — you always look great!

PPro tip: Time on set is valuable, so if you are unsure of something, don't be afraid to ask for clarification. It’s better to take an extra 10 seconds to ask a question now than an extra 30 minutes to redo a whole scene later.

I'll admit I was pretty freaked out when Dan asked me to be in his movie (I’ve always been scared of asteroids), but with Experienced Actorson by my side, it's only a matter of time before I'm starring alongside someone really talented, like Josh Ruben. Hopefully Armageddon: Again and Again will be a smash hit!

Check out the other episodes in this series:

Category:
Behind The Scenes
Shooting
Difficulty:
Beginner

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Lesson Summary

To be, or not to be? We may never know for sure, but it isn't as hard as you'd think to convincingly deliver your favorite Bill Shakespeare lines. We got some tips on the basics of acting to help you pull off Hamlet — or a guy trying to save the world from asteroids — with total confidence.

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