Acting for the Camera

Posted on September 30, 2007

Young Stanislavski

“Acting is living truthfully in imaginary circumstances.”

In the spring semester we had a few acting workshops to prepare us for our F2s. Acting isn’t exactly my favorite thing in the world, and one of my directing weak points. I’d much rather be behind camera with brilliant actors.

So it wasn’t the best news when I heard we would be having some more acting workshops. We met Thursday morning and opened with the quote above. We then talked about a paper that was emailed to use a few days before.

Based on method acting, it said for each scene you should find an objective that is single, immediate, and personal (SIP).

The best objective is a change you want to bring out in the other character.

Then we did a few exercises. One involved taking some one’s keys and making them leave the room while we hid them. When they came back in to find them, we watched them to tell when they were pretending to look (the beginning) versus when they were really looking (towards the end when frustration set in).

Then our teacher told us there was $10 hidden under a chair or table. Whoever found it could keep it. Of course everyone quickly got on their hands and knees. Once it was found (it wasn’t a trick), we had to reset and go for take two. Of course the second time was a lackluster performance. Point made.

To end the class, we were all given a vague dialogue scene, with which we had to add context and objectives and act it out. My partner and I came up with an employee filling out an evaluation with the boss trying to be buddy-buddy for favorable marks (gotta stick with the office themes).

We acted it out, got a few laughs, and I survived. Overall the class was more helpful than I expected. In the coming weeks we’ll each be taking a scene from our F3 and filming it with our ATL to go through the acting and shot design, which I think is a pretty smart idea.

Written by Joey Daoud

Joey Daoud is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. His past films have appeared on Netflix, The New York Times, and National Geographic. He is also a YouTube creator across multiple channels with videos garnering millions of views. In his free time, he likes to climb mountains, scuba dive, and brew unique coffees.

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  1. modifoo

    I think it is always a useful experience for us people working behind the camera, to actually be in front of it. Feeling the pressure, the awkwardness. Gives you a better understanding of how to handle the people who do stand in front of the lens. No matter if it is drama, documentary or industrial.

  2. C47

    I agree. It also makes you realize that an actor is not just another piece of equipment that responds to, “be happy, now angry.” It’s a much more organic process.

  3. modifoo

    …I remember one “director” telling the actor to do the same again, but a bit faster. Uff…

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