Acting for Film
There are many different types of acting: soaps, theatre, Disney, TV and acting for film. For most people who are not in the industry, understanding these different types of acting can get confusing. Add to that learning how to act for a one camera shoot vs. a three camera shoot and the beginner actor begins to feel very overwhelmed.
When an actor is about to go on a film audition or shoot a film, there biggest challenge is usually preparing emotionally for the role. If this is your first time in front of the camera, it is very stressful which totally works against giving your best performance. Besides learning breathing techniques which can aid your nerves, there are ways to make sure that your performance is memorable.
There are so many methods; where does a person begin? Over the years, two methods have been heralded as the best when acting for film. They are the Sanford Meisner Technique and Method Acting. Although they can be similar, they also can be quite different. For the experienced film actor, they soon find themselves emulating one or the other. Academy Award winning actors have been disciples of both schools so it is totally up to the actor as to which works best for him/her.
The Meisner technique is imagination-based. In Mr. Meisner’s method of training, he believes that your imagination is all that is needed to emotionally prepare for a role. For example, if the role involves having your spouse get seriously injured in a car accident, then you have to imagine and get very exact. Really picturing the accident, what happened, the car crushed and metal and debris everywhere as well as seeing your spouse unconscious within the wreck is what is needed. If the actor does this correctly, it’s impossible not to feel something. Speaking your lines over that feeling with your screen partner creates exactly the emotion that is necessary for the scene.
Method acting is a bit different in that the actor tries to emulate the exact emotions and feelings of the character they are to play. Lee Strasberg created “Method Acting” and it has been used successfully by some film greats including Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino.
Drawing upon their own memories and emotionally connecting with them, actors use this “sense memory” to allow their characters to come to life, giving a very realistic performance. Known to totally immerse themselves into their roles, many method actors stay in character off-camera, in their dressing rooms and even when eating lunch or dinner on set. Although this is true of some actors, Strasberg never taught that it’s necessary to stay in character during every moment of the day. The Method was actually the first system in film acting that reached inside the actor to develop a deeper sense of emotional awareness while filming. But no matter what technique an actor incorporates, the most important factor in film acting is to be believable, however that’s achieved.