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How to Act for Camera Nobody Tells You About

 How to Act for Camera

I’ll bet most of you as actors out there are actual human beings. And most people think that the easiest thing in the world is to just be just memorize lines and play the character when the camera comes on. Wrong! I find that most people have the toughest problem, not with the techniques, but with just looking and feeling like an actual living, breathing human being once the camera is running. And, let’s face it, a good acting scene should never look like a good acting scene. It should look like "a reality show" that is so natural and real that we forget it is an acting scene.

Here are the top five tips I use in my classes now to get students to feel and look like real human beings in a scene:

1. Start by relaxing and your body to "just let go.” 

You need to get out of your mind and nervousness and focus on your body. It’s important to physically loosen your body and to unfreeze it so that natural life energy and subconscious reactions are set free to happen.

A simple relaxation technique of breathing 

Easy steps
While sitting on a chair

A. Step 1
-One hand on chest
-The other hand on stomach

B. Steps 2

  • Exhale fully emptying your lungs
  • Inhale deeply, pressing your stomach slightly. No pressing of your chest with the other hand.
  • Hold your breath for 5 to 7 seconds and while you are holding your breath.
  • Auto suggest silently to you, like-“I‘ll be relaxed”, “I’ll feel good”, I’ll give a great audition”, “I’ll give good performance”…
  • Exhale very slowly in 7 to 10 seconds, releasing the pressure of your hand, the one which is on the stomach and pressing your chest slightly with the hand which is on the chest
  • Repeat this exercise 10 times or till you can continue, depending upon time available with you in an audition room or the set before the shoot.

Finally, auto suggest yourself- “I’m feeling relaxed. Really good. Yes, I’m ready to go…”

2. Free yourself as though you are alone and no one is watching you. 

Create a wall in front of you and block everything-casting director, assistants, camera, reader (who reads the other part of your co-actor). Set yourself free. Based on the analysis of the script and the character you are portraying, do the things you would do if you were alone.   For example-scratch, get the hair out of your face. Be creative and set free natural nuances to happen so that you are working as a real “living human being”. Allow yourself to feel ugly, imperfect, even boring. Everyone actually looks better in a relaxed mode, as your face and body gets a beautiful, natural glow and flow. It will look like you are doing nothing, but remember, tiny nuances by you looks great in the camera.

3. Give yourself something to do! 

Anything that is real looks amazing on camera. So really read the book; really listen to the other person; really try to get the piece of lint off of your clothes; really give a soft smile; adjust your clothes. Really observe the other person in the scene. Feel the breeze on your face. Clean your finger nails. Touch someone with love. Stare so hard into the eyes.

4. Eyelines

Why an actor should care about Eyeline?
An actor should care about Eyelines because where and how an actor looks on screen gives viewers information about his character.
Though basically "Eyelines" is a subject of film making, direction and cinematography as to where to place the camera, especially in 2 shot filming, it could be a great opportunity for actors to showcase their talents through eye expressions
In a cine industry of Bollywood or TV serial market in India, where there is a cut throat competition,
it's  absolutely essential for actors how to position themselves suitably in a shot or at the audition to give a memorable performance.
There will be a separate post in detail on how actors should use their eyeline for the camera

5. Use props

It may be a Rs 20 ring you are giving to your love, but feeling that it’s a diamond ring and so should be felt by her. Sipping a coke, but feeling it’s a great scotch in a finest cut glass.
Feeling and just  feeling. A camera loves,  "feelings"! Yes, that’s the way you should use your props
(Prop: A property, commonly shortened to prop (plural: props), is an object used on stage or on screen by actors during a performance or screen production. In practical terms, a prop is considered to be anything movable or portable on a stage or a film set like pan, umbrella, coffee mug or anything but not a scenery, costumes and electrical equipment etc.)
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