How to Use Playback to Become a Better Actor in Movies and Television
"You Can’t Know What Anything on Film Looks Like Until You Play it Back"
Nobody knows everything in this business. That's the first rule of filmmaking. Until you see it up on the screen, you don't know what you have. That's why I use playback, so that you can actually see what it looks like.
One of the things we're trying to learn in an acting class, is that what do you do live when you're doing a scene, and how the minor adjustments you make affect how it shows up on the screen. You can change what's on screen by your performance, but you can't tell what it's going to look like unless you see it.
How I Learned First Hand the Value of Playback in Film Coaching
I started out getting into film acting do to a series of incidences early in my life. I would set up a camera in my house and videotape myself doing monologues, and then look at the playback and analyze it. After doing that for a while, I invited a friend over to do it with me. Then a couple friends, and then five or six. We ended up making a little salon out of it, and then people said, "You're really good at this, you should be a teacher."
That evolved into me becoming a teacher. The key takeaway: I always found it useful to look at myself, at what I'd done in front of the camera. You see, there's a big difference between live and what's on the camera.
You can't know what anything looks like on film until you play it back. How it looks in playback is the new reality.
The same holds true when I'm critiquing students. If I watch them live in the chair, and I'm not looking at them on the monitor, I often make mistakes. The reason is because I'm critiquing them on what I see live, rather than what's on screen. Then when I look at the playback I might say, "I told you the wrong thing. It really does work what you did. It's pretty good."
If you're shooting Law and Order in the street on 6th Avenue, and they have the cops out there, and somebody's going to get shot, and then the director says "Rolling, Action!," where is the director looking after he says action? He's not looking at the actors. He's looking at the monitor, because that's the new reality. The actors are only a vehicle to get to what's up on the TV. The reality becomes what's in the monitor.
This is part 2 in a continuing series of transcriptions from Mark Stolzenberg's first day of class. To see part 1 No Sloths Allowed - Acting Is A Rough, Tough Game
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