Walking onto a set for the first time is thrilling, but transitioning from stage to film is far more intricate and technically complex than you may think. So, if you want to join the ranks of movie stars, here’s how to make the shift as painless as possible, according to Producer Brantley Dunaway.
- Learn the language used on set.
When blocking performances as actors and dancers onstage, we rapidly learn what upstage, downstage, and other terms mean. This jargon is a shortened version of English. When working with television, the same style of language gets used.
You can probably figure out what “cut” means using common sense, but do you know what “checking the gate” means? What about “last glances”? To avoid being entirely in the dark, try to acquire as much terminology as possible before arriving on set. The same may get said regarding who’s who, according to Brantley Dunaway.
- Always arrive on time.
Nothing irritates the crew, director, producers, and other actors more than a late actor, whether you’re a guest star, co-star, or series regular. Time is indeed money. Making people wait for you is also impolite and insensitive. Make sure you arrive 10 to 30 minutes early for your appointment, according to Brantley M. Dunaway. That allows you to unwind and rest before being ushered onto the set. You’re late if you’re on time.
- Understand your lines.
We have weeks to develop a scene or a character in the theatre. Television operates at breakneck speed. So you’ll need to have all of this planned out before you get into the audition room. Make yourself as familiar with the material and characters as possible as soon as you get your sides. You want to give the best performance of your life, which you can’t accomplish if you’re looking down for your cue or unclear what or why you’re saying.
Work with an acting coach or someone close to you to get the words out of your head. It will calm your anxiety and give you a boost of confidence in the material.
- Always act professionally.
Attending an audition and moaning about how little time you had to prepare is not a good idea, according to Brantley M. Dunaway. It is your responsibility to prepare, so make sure it gets completed.
- Sign up for a class.
Before departing New York for my journey to Hollywood, I was encouraged to take an on-camera lesson. I was singing and dancing on Broadway at the time, with no cameras in sight, and it was simple to lapse into autopilot and listen for my signal to an entrance or song after years of performing eight shows a week.
I learned 1) what I look like on film and how to hold myself for the camera by attending a class specifically for on-camera acting, and 2) how to listen by taking a class exclusively for on-camera acting. Many casting directors, producers, and directors are looking for more than just a polished performance when it comes to how you listen while engaging with the moment on camera.