How Do You Transition from Stage Acting to Film Acting?
You are a proven actor. You have a list of credits and have studied under some fine coaches. But your work has all been on stage until now. It is all very valuable for a possible future work on camera, but you will need to make some serious adjustments. We pick up part 3 of the first day of Mark Stolzenberg’s class on Acting For Film and Television.
Acting on Film for Television, Movies, or Commercials - Not Like Stage
One of the main things you realize right away about moving from stage to film acting is the way you project your energy and project what you're communicating. Because, if you are on stage the nature of what you're doing requires a different performance. If you're on stage, you have to communicate to the back row, the balcony. It's a big place and people have to hear your voice so you have to talk louder. People have to see you so you have to gesture bigger. If I'm on broadway and I have the opening line, and I might say "Hey Joe! It's a beautiful day!" very loud and animated. If I did that on camera I'd look like an idiot.
On camera it's more like real life. If you're on the set of a big Hollywood movie and the stars are rehearsing their big scene, it would look like they were just having a normal conversation. You wouldn't even know they were rehearsing. That has actually happened to me when I've been on set. They look like they're talking to each other.
Film acting is more like real life in the way you project because you have a microphone and intimacy. The camera creates intimacy. You don't have to project and you don't have to put on a performance for anybody. All you have to do is have an experience, and the camera comes to you and picks it up.
Click to Tweet This
Film Acting Not Like Stage Acting: All you have to do is have an experience, and the camera comes to you and picks it up.
I always tell my students to let the camera come to you. If you are a stage actor, you're used to putting on a show. This is not about putting on a show. You don't have to do that. All you have to do is experience something that is dramatically in line with the script, and your character and the camera will read it and suck it right out of your head.
You don't even have to work that hard, but you do have to bee in character. All the same rules apply. Your character, what's your motivation, what are you doing in the scene. Acting implies action, you're doing something. You're not just reading the lines. I'm trying to get her to love me, I'm trying to get him to give me the money he owes me. I'm doing something. Then there are obstacles to what you want to get, which create conflict. It's all about overcoming those obstacles to get what you want. That creates drama.
Here is another aspect of the stage versus film dichotomy. Stage tends to be more literary and more verbal, because of the nature of plays and language. Film is a visual medium. It's all about pictures and images. If I'm on camera, I can have a beautiful moment when I'm not talking, and there's a lot more subtext - what you're thinking - in between the lines.
When you're on stage, you use subtext and it helps you be believable, it helps fill in the blank spaces. On camera, it's crucial. Subtext becomes the text. Especially on close ups. The camera can read your mind. That's another magical thing about the camera. All you have to do is have a thought on a close up and the camera will pick it up, it blows it up. It reads your mind.
Did you Miss Part 1 No Sloths Allowed - Acting Is A Rough, Tough Game
Or Part 2 Use Playback Extensively and Get More Acting Gigs in Movies and on TV