“Acting on Film”
How can I help my child get ready to act in movies? Is there a difference between theatre acting school and a film acting school.
This is a question I get all the time at The Young Actor’s Studio and my answer is always the same. Acting is the same in all media. The only change is that you always have an awareness of the audience and where they are located. You adjust your voice accordingly. For example, if the camera is 10 inches away from you then you are adjusting your volume accordingly. Think of acting as music. The violinist will play softer if he is in a recording studio with a microphone next to him, then he would if he was in a 1000 seat concert hall. It’s the same with acting. Acting is about allowing you to be you in the most easiest way. On stage and especially in film. It’s about letting yourself be real inside the role you are playing.
Children have this natural playfulness and realness that very often can get them cast right off the bat! I myself was cast as a child actor in this very manner. I was just being myself and they cast me as a lead in a television series. What happened after that was another story.
Most often kids working in film and television start to push and over act, and be cute and try do it “right.” Acting doesn’t work that way. You become mechanical and no longer authentic. As a parent you may have looked at your child just being themselves and think to yourself, “That’s so great, let me grab a camera and take a picture!” When in actuality, that realness is exactly what you want your child to capture in a film role. Just them being them.
Here are some tips to help your child act on film:
First: Relax. The camera is right on you, so there is no need to speak loud (unless it requires it). There is no need to do anything but be yourself without effort. Remember, we are acting every second we are alive but are unaware of it. If you aren’t feeling anything but are real, that’s enough to do a part. Kids have a hard time with this at times, but the ones that do relaxation before an audition or role come off quite amazing.
Two: Don’t look in the camera’s lens. Put the “place of the movie” that you are in around the outside of the camera lens. See it there. For example, if the film scene is in the living room, visualize your lamp, the couch, the TV in front of you where the camera is. Always have your attention towards the camera (or downstage) so that they can see your eyes. Place around the camera the room of the movie.
Three: play your action and focus on your scene partner. Make eye contact. Your scene partner is a human being who has a whole array of emotions. How do they make you feel? If they make you feel a certain way, use that in the role. For example, if they say something that hurt your feelings, take a second to allow yourself to feel that. Then say the next line with that email.
Finally: simply allow yourself to be. The magical thing about acting is you can already can do it. Repeating it is the hard part and if you have the right acting class that nurtures your originality then you will be home free. Acting is a living art that lives right in front of the camera. If you are in a feature film, the camera will pick up on your realness and shine it across the screen.
Note that Children in Film is a well known organization empowering young people and their families involved in the film industry.
I wish you every success!