Below we take a look at a few screen acting basics. Screen acting is growing increasingly important for actors. The number one bit of advice: get in front of a camera as much as possible. Like with any aspect of acting, getting comfortable and relaxed is the key to success.
Become Self Aware
The first step to improving your on screen acting is to improve your everyday self awareness. A thorough understanding of how you react to different situations in life will allow you to react naturally on screen. I’m not saying you should be constantly thinking of improving your screen acting while going about your day; the opposite in fact. Go about your business and check in every now and then with your mind and body.
Are you stressed out? Happy? Tense? Angry? A mixture of everything? Did you react to an event in your life the way you would expect a character to react on screen? Do your acting choices reflect your life choices? The way you react to change in real life is what will make your performance unique so don’t change a thing… unless a director tells you to.
Rehearse Away From Camera
Using all of that self awareness, grab your script and start rehearsing away from the camera. If you’re not able to rehearse with your scene partner, ask a friend. Yes, your performance will (and should!) vary depending on who you are working with. But, any rehearsal without the pressure of a camera in your face is valuable.
In front of the camera actors will often simplify their characters to one emotion. For example “My character is angry with her.” or “She hates him.”. Without the excuse of a camera, these choices don’t work. While rehearsing away from camera, you are forced to find the reason your character is still in the scene. This reason is another way of thinking about the stakes of a scene. In other words, what your character has to gain and what they have to lose. A self aware actor rehearsing away from camera should look like a normal person living life; Do you?
Breathe, Focus, and Transfer
Okay, so you are self aware and rehearsed. Now it’s time to transfer that performance onto the set. If it’s an audition or green screen work, try your best to imagine all of the physical given circumstances. Where are you? Who are you? Who are you talking to? Who can hear/see you? What can you see? Is the conversation public or private? All of these questions will influence and improve your on screen acting. If you are on set surrounded by extras and other performers, become self aware in that moment. Listen, touch, taste, and see the world around you. Now ask yourself, what does my character have to win and lose in the scene? Imagine the best and worst outcomes (Love/Hate, Life/Death). And now the scariest part of it all – let it go. Breathe, relax, and act.