Tips for Actors > Commercial Acting

28 Sep 2008

If you want to be a real actor, you'll never do a commercial.'' I've gotten many eviction notices because I listened to that piece of advice.

Let's define ``real,'' or ``actor,'' or ``professional.'' Some actors only do commercials. Some do it all. Some only do theater or films or TV. Who's a real actor? I have a place in my heart for the actor saint the one who bleeds for his art and would never do a commercial. I lived it for many years, but most actors will jump at a commercial if it's attainable.


Let's say you get a call from your agent, or, if you don't have an agent, you dig it out of the trades (show biz magazines), or hear about it from a friend. Somehow you get an commercial audition. Here is what you need to know.

1] Dress. If they want a farmer don't go in a three piece suit, with a British accent. Don't bring a cow or a chicken. Actually a chicken might work as long as you remove its vocal chords. But do dress the part.

2] There will be a sign-in sheet. Use it. Typically you walk into the audition place, usually an office, and there will either be an assistant, who will give you ``the copy'' or the script, or it will be on the counter with the sign-in sheet. Sign in. If you know you're reading for ``Bo,'' that's the copy you pick up.

3] Get the copy early. Ask when you can get the copy. Sometimes you can get it a day before the audition, sometimes two hours before. You're way ahead of the actor who didn't get the copy in advance and who has only ten minutes to prepare. Remember there is a lot of money at stake.

4] Whoever is on that page, it's not you. Now you will usually have five or ten minutes to look over the copy and familiarize yourself with this character. And it is a ``character,'' just like in a play or a movie. In most cases, the character is eating something you wouldn't eat, drinking something you wouldn't drink, wearing something you wouldn't wear, or driving something you wouldn't drive. It's a character, so all the rules of acting apply.

First and foremost, consider the given circumstances. Is this character upscale or downscale, white collar/money or blue collar/working to get by? You can tell this very quickly by the way the character speaks, and by the product. Not too many Mercedes ads are aimed at downscale types. Those two givens tell you many things:

Probable financial status

Probable education

Probable type of housing

Probable type of job.

Okay, so you've read it over a few times. You've got an idea as to the character type, and you've got a handle on the material.

5] When I say read it over, I mean read it aloud. Find a bathroom, a doorway, anything to let you get away from the other actors if possible. You might come up with a very cute way of reading one of the lines, and the guy next to you could go in and use it first. The casting people will think you stole it from him. You must read it aloud. Certainly you've been in a situation where you knew exactly what you were going to say to someone and exactly how you were going to say it. You rehearsed it in your head over and over. You walked up to that person, your mouth opened and the words came out much different from what you had planned. Read it aloud.

6] Don't start your audition by fumbling around in your bag for a picture and resume. You have a handle on the character. You have rehearsed it aloud, and you feel comfortable with the choices you made about how to say it. Bang! It's your turn to go in. If you didn't already give your picture and resume to the assistant, you have it in your hand, ready to present it. I say in your hand because you don't want to start your audition by stupidly fumbling around for a picture and resume.

7] This is a first read, so you will probably find only the casting director and a video camera waiting for you.  The second you walk in that door, try to look confident. Nervous people make others uncomfortable. Always remember they want you to be good. They will be very happy if you solve their problem, which is finding the best person to do this spot.

8] Remember nobody cares about what they can do for you. You're getting thrown out of your apartment, your car's being repossessed, and you haven't eaten in three days. ``I really need this job.'' As a casting person, I don't care. Those are personal problems, and I don't want to know about them. If I don't cast this right, I might get kicked out of my apartment. All I want to know is whether you're the best person for the job. By the way, a casting agent doesn't usually cast. They look at many possible actors and select the best ones to present to the client and director. That's why the camera is there. But they are very important people in an actor's life. You might not get this job today, but two weeks or two months from now the casting agent may remember you and call you in for a part you will get.

9] Be at your lovable best: big smile, lots of energy, friendly and professional. The first time you meet the casting agent is when you come through that door, so be at your best. They may spot something on your resume, a show they know or a teacher you worked with, and ask you about them. This could be a trick question. They may hate the teacher or director, so be honest but don't go overboard. They may ask a question as simple as, ``What have you been doing lately?'' Don't mistake this as an invitation to chat. Don't tell them about your restaurant job or the weekend in the Hamptons, unless you're a singing and dancing waitress or the weekend in the Hamptons was a two-day acting seminar. So you get all this preliminary talk out of the way. (All that took two minutes.)

10] Get on your mark. Now you're asked to get on your mark (a piece of tape on the floor in front of the camera shaped like a cross). It's very important that you get on and stay on that mark while you're reading. That spot keeps you in the frame, in the light and in focus. So once you're on it, stay on it. Now comes a very big moment, the slate.

11] One cue or two cues. The casting director will tell you if you are going to be given one or two cues. You may get two, one ``action'' cue to slate, and then another ``action'' cue to do the copy. If it's one cue, it means you slate, pause briefly and begin the copy.

12] Either way you do your slate,  This simply means you look at the camera and say your name and agency and any other information they may ask for. Some will do a straight-on shot and then each profile. It's done in a few seconds but they may be the most important few seconds of your audition.

13] Squeeze all the charm, warmth and professionalism you've got into saying your name and agency. Just as you first meet the casting director when you come through that door, the slate is the first time you meet the almighty client and director, the people who have the real power, the ones who decide who gets the job. If your slate is sloppy, lazy or unimpressive in any way, they will probably fast-forward right through your reading of the commercial. They may never see how cool or cute you were while reading. They go till they hit a good slate. You must bring energy to this part of the audition.

14] Ask the casting director if there is anything he or she wants to tell you about the character. If you call a plumber, they don't ask you how to fix the problem, but they do ask what the problem is. If they say no, just go give it your best shot. If they give you something, use it. This is not a discussion. You're not doing Hamlet. If they say play him ``real stupid,'' don't get into retarded versus intellectually challenged. Whatever stupid means to you, jump up and do it.

15] So you gave a brilliant slate, and now it's ``copy time.'' Hopefully, you are using the Tape Technique for commercials. You have your earplug in, and your hands are free to hold a product or to gesture. You're looking right into camera, and you shine. If you're not using the Tape Technique:

16] Memorize the first and last lines of the copy. If for some reason you can't use the Tape Technique, you have to do it the old-fashioned way. This means that you memorize the first and last lines, so that the first thing they see is you, full face to camera, and the last thing they see is you, full face to camera.

17] The product is the hero. Remember in a movie, TV show or play, you might be the hero, but in a commercial it's the product. Make sure you use proper emphasis whenever you say the product name.

18] The mikes on these things are almost always weak. These tapes are done on less than broadcast-quality cameras, and the camera may be set 6 or 8 feet away from you. Put enough energy in your voice to carry.

19] Usually you are in a close-up or a tight to medium shot. Don't bounce around. You'll bounce out of frame, focus and the light. That's three strikes and you're out.

20] There are three or more selling points in a commercial. For example, a recent sock commercial mentioned color, feel and style. Each of these words has a different emotional appeal, and must be said with a different intonation, a different ``color.'' Remember, emotions are to actors what colors are to painters.

21] Products are sold on an emotional basis, not on a practical basis. I drink a certain beer, and this beautiful woman pulls up in a Corvette and off we go. What I'm saying is, you have to be as emotional about potato chips as you would be about meeting the girl of your dreams.

22] The camera is your best friend. If you're doing a product, like food, clothes, makeup, whatever, do it as if the camera were really your best friend. We all like to share new discoveries. If you find a great new restaurant or shoe store or movie or book, you can't wait to tell somebody. When you do, you describe it with great enthusiasm and many superlatives. The copy will supply the superlatives, but you had better supply the enthusiasm.

23] If you see a word in the text you don't understand, ask the director or casting director what it means. Nobody cares if you have a vocabulary or not. I just want to know whether you can sell this soup. People who say words they don't know look stupid. And nobody's taking advice about what to buy from a stupid person. Ask somebody what the word means.

24] The casting agent might ask you to do it again, only changing it in some way. This is a very good sign. It means they like you. The adjustment they give you can be something like be happier. It could be very general like giving it a different color. If they are specific, try to give it to them. If it is general, understand they like you, but they want something different. Change it any way you can think of, but do it much differently. Don't play it safe. They may love what you did the first time, but they want to see if you take direction.

25] Wait for the ``cut.'' Don't stop smiling, or whatever you're doing until you hear ``cut,'' no matter how you feel about what you did. Don't make a stupid face, or say something stupid about what you just did. The camera is still rolling, and if you make that stupid face it will be the last thing they see of you. It might not have been as bad as you think, but if you tell them it was, they believe you.

26] Get out clean. They saw you, and they talked to you. You got to read. Now when they say thank you, you say thank you, smile and get out the door. Don't apologize. Don't look for a compliment or try to drag it out in any way. Say thank you, smile and get out.

27] You are going to be on a stopwatch. You may have taken your time with the audition, but when it comes time to shoot, you'll be on a stopwatch. The price for a one-minute commercial at the Superbowl is about $2,500,000. At that price, a fifteen-second spot is going to be 15 seconds-no more, no less. That's about $42,000 a second. Not many spots are that expensive, but every producer who is paying for one feels they are. It's your job to deliver the commercial that took you thirty seconds to read in the audition in fifteen seconds or seven and a half seconds.

Get a stopwatch, and practice hitting those spots in five, ten and fifteen seconds. It sounds hard and it is, but you don't get $10,000 or $25,000 for one day of easy( if you did your home work) work. So work for it.

28] You will be asked to do improvisation for an audition. You must know how. The fact is that it is easy, especially in an audition situation. They will usually tell you who you are (your character type) and where you are (the physical place). This is very important, because once you know where you are, you will know all the objects that are in that place. That is the stuff that improvs are made of. You won't have real objects in an audition, so create them. But make them ``real.'' Even one object helps, but if you're sloppy with it, you lose. They will also tell you what you're doing there. These are the Three Ws of Improv. Once you know that, the only important thing is that you immediately give your best shot. Don't get nervous. Don't stall or ask questions. Just do it.

Tip: Don't create other people in an improv unless you are directed to, it's too hard a sell!

29] About the interview. It might be short, it might be longer. They will want to know about you, your attitude, your personality. Generally, TV interviews will be longer than commercial interviews. Interviews for plays and movies will be longer than TV. In a play or movie they are going to spend more time with you on the job, and your temperament is apt to be tested by a more demanding work schedule.

30] Changing moods. You've got to change moods fast. In drama, your emotions have time to build. In commercials, you're on the verge of suicide, somebody walks in and hands you some toilet bowl cleaner, and you're dancing on the tub. You have to do this instantly in an audition. They may ask for the opposite of what you had worked on and just given them. Have some set images that always produce a certain emotion strongly. Carry them in your mind like a deck of cards.

31] Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend? In classes if I'm not getting the right energy when a student says the product name, I'll get her in a tight close-up, and ask if she has a boyfriend. ``Yes.'' I ask, ``What's his name?'' By the time that comes out, her face has been radiantly transformed and her eyes are shining. So that's what you say inside, while you're saying Coca-Cola on the outside.

32] Put objects toward the camera. If you create objects, don't put them on the side or behind you, even if you're only using them for a second. You have very little time and you want to be in that camera every second. Desks, fridges, drawers-put everything toward the camera.

33] Enter from upstage. If you walk into camera, try whenever possible to come face first.

34] Look through the camera. Don't look at it. Send your energy through the lens, through the camera person's head and way beyond. Looking through the camera, not at it, is one of the first things a fashion model learns. It is important advice for actors doing commercials.

35] If you make a mistake, keep going. If you're running in the Olympics and you stumble, you don't stop to make a stupid face or curse. You get right back into the race.

36] Use your angles. Don't be obvious, but move your face around. Any fashion model knows it's not all big moves. A tiny move can change the way you look considerably. If you stay straight into camera, you're only giving them one way to like you, if you move your face around some you are multiplying the ways they can like you.

37] Be sensitive to the product. Create a warm, sporty, sexy mood. Whatever is appropriate for this product

38] Probably more than one person who makes over $100,000 a year wrote that script. Use it! Don't make up words.

39] Watch commercials.

Click from commercial to commercial instead of show to show. Tape them, and study them. When most people watch TV and an ad comes on, they go to the kitchen or bathroom, they mute the sucker, or jump around channels. I want you to click from commercial to commercial. Study often.

Four Basic Kinds of Commercials

The Soft Sell.

Think of someone trying to sell you a cemetery plot. They won't be screaming and yelling, hopping up and down, smashing caskets. The tone will be soft, low and respectful. Luxury cars, perfume, expensive clothes or watches-products trying to identify with class and power-will probably take the same low-key approach.

The Hard Sell.

If you're from New York, think ``Crazy Eddie.'' In Miami there was a car salesman who used to smash cars with a sledge hammer. These people usually scream things like, ``No money down, no payments for six years, low financing, we're givin' them away, get over here now, do it, do it, do it.''

The Spokesperson.

Sometimes it's a celebrity, like Tiger Woods for American Express. Sometimes it's a ``real person.'' That's in quotation marks, because the lady looking at you through the camera and saying ``I'm a housewife just like you,'' is telling the truth. She has to be close, because there's a law about truth in advertising. What she's not telling you is that she spent five years training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and six years on and off Broadway in New York City.

The Dramatic Spot.

This is where you play an actual character. I did three of these for some condos in Palm Springs, California. I was ``control,'' the head of the British Secret Service. I did some for Oregon Public Broadcasting. I was a Russian submarine commander.

Sometimes you don't say anything, but you still get paid as if you did. You're just driving ``your'' truck and smiling, or having a beer and smiling, or biting into a potato chip and smiling.

The question about commercials is, how much talent does it take to bite a cookie and smile, or shake your butt in a mob dance scene for some soda? Not much. Right? Anybody can do it, right? Wrong and right. You need three things to get a commercial: Professionalism, Technique and Luck


The four categories of commercials I named are not just on camera. Some people make tons of money doing voice-overs and radio spots. You never see them except at the bank. It's silly for anyone trying to make a living as an actor not to try to get a piece of this money pie.

To do this, you need a voice-over tape. With the state of high-tech home sound systems today, you can probably make it on your own or a friend's system. You can put music behind it, or other sound effects you think make it stronger. You can write the voice-over yourself, or take them off the radio or TV. If you choose the latter, don't copy anybody. If they want that particular voice, they'll get that person. Be original. Avoid taking your material from newspapers or magazines. Print ads are meant to be read. Take copy from an ad that was meant to be said.

The tape should be short (5 minutes is long) and each voice you do should be short, 10 seconds is almost long. The people listening are professionals, and they can tell what you can do without listening to the Gutenburg Bible. Have one voice for each of the basic types. And if you have some characters you like to do, throw them in. Maybe you do a great surfer, nerd, snob, Martian, whatever.

In order to get this work, you're going to have to do a cold reading. Here are some tips for handling that.

Cold Readings

Using the Tape Technique with a mini-cassette (see page 6) is the best way to go when you have to do straight commercial copy or a monologue. However, if you have to do a two-character commercial, or read with another actor for film, TV or stage, you are going to have to read cold. It's ugly, but it's a fact of the actor's life.

The first thing you have to know is that you must make eye contact. You can't do that with your nose buried in a script. The second thing you have to know is that you can train your brain to lift whole sentences and more off a page at a glance.

Not everybody runs five miles a day. I certainly don't, but those who do aren't people who got up one morning and said I think I'll run five miles. They started with a quarter of a mile and built up over time to their desired distance.

So build yourself a file of scripts and commercial copy. Every day pick up a script and practice getting a whole thought, and then delivering that line to a very specific place. Build yourself a prop camera, or put a lens-high X on your wall. It's an everyday job. Don't worry about how fast you're going, just complete the task. If it takes you two minutes staring at the page, until you can look at your imaginary camera and say a complete sentence without breaking eye contact, don't worry. Just keep working on it.

You will get better. Your timing will improve, and within weeks you'll be much better. Not bad for getting a skill you will need for a lifetime. I'm not saying you will master this in a few weeks, but you will have improved enough so it will be obvious that with more work, you will master it.

You've practiced often by yourself and with friends. You can now snatch three- or four-line speeches off a page in seconds, and you make eye contact and emotional commitment all through the speech. So what else do you have to know?

Well, you should know that this skill must be constantly practiced if you are going to maintain it at peak efficiency. Now you're not doomed to a life of practice. That hard work you did should pay off in a job-a movie for ten weeks, or a play that runs for a while, or a TV show that goes on forever. Set a goal. Train yourself to get at least four lines consistently in the first thirty days. You will probably achieve that goal in two weeks. If you're in the business and ``making the rounds,'' you will start to get jobs you would have missed without this skill.



Director Dependence

Probably the most shocking thing about film and TV to a theatrical actor is the actor/director relationship.

I found out about the actor/director relationship the hard way. After twelve years of New York City theater, I moved to Los Angeles and the first job I got was on a major, major soap opera. I had to play the president of a businessmen's luncheon club, for which I borrowed a suit from a friend. I was nervous since it was my first network shot. So we did the first rehearsal, and I didn't see a director. Second rehearsal, no director. Third rehearsal, somebody said ``break for lunch,'' and I still hadn't seen a director.

I was getting into something of a panic. I'd never done TV. After lunch we came back for a dress rehearsal and then tape. I put on the suit. We did the dress rehearsal, and I still haven't seen the director. Now you have to understand that in New York your director is your mother, your brother, your lover, your friend. They'll do your laundry, if they have to. So here I was after years of that. I was about to go on, and I hadn't even met the director. So I was in full panic. We were on a break. Just before shooting I walked up to a guard in the hallways and asked, ``Do the directors ever give notes to the actors?'' He said ``Oh, yeah, they catch them in the hallways here. There he is.'' I looked down this long hallway and I saw this director talking to an actor. I beat it down there and waited for him to finish with this other actor. Finally he was done. ``Excuse me sir,'' I said. ``Do you have any notes for me?'' The guy stepped back, looked me up and down and said, ``No, the suit looks fine,'' and walked away.

Few directors in Los Angeles are known as ``actors' directors.'' Realize that if you get hired, the director is not there to give acting lessons. TV and film are very technical mediums. They are always under pressure to get the job done. Time is very expensive. So you must be a pro. You must bring the character to them, and a nice, rich option in case they don't like the first one.

To do that you must have technique. Actors have tools just like carpenters, and we call them techniques. The Tape Technique will teach you to direct yourself.


Acting is acting, and that is true. However, there are technical differences between working on stage and working before a camera. Here's a quick list.

1. Closeups - Most important is that you must be able to do a powerful two person scene by yourself. The reason is that in closeup you're the only person in the picture. And let's say the other person that you've been working with has gone home for the day or is already doing another movie in some other country. And now reading their lines is the producer's nephew off camera. This will happen to you. But remember, it's your closeup and that's what you take to the bank. You'd better be able to do it.

For exercise, say you're working on a scene with a partner and you've got it nailed. The next time you do it as a camera closeup, have some non-actor stand behind a bright light so you can't see them and read your partner's lines totally flat. See if you can maintain energy, enthusiasm, the power of your performance.

Love scenes are great for this. Instead of the beautiful girl you're doing the scene with, have some production assistant-type stand there so you can see them and let them read your partner's lines in their own uninspired way - flat. See if you can keep the high level of performance you've had.

2. Matching - In films, TV and commercials, you shoot out of sequence. You might start a shoot one day and finish it hours or days later. You have to remember exactly what you were wearing. Was the cigarette just lit, half smoked or what? Was the glass in your right hand or was it the left? On major productions, there will be a continuity person to help keep track of all this, and they are very sharp. But even if they don't get every little detail, the editor will and you can lose the best closeup of you life because your collar was up in the master shot and the next day or after lunch when you shot the closeup, it was down. Polaroids are used a lot, but it's nobody's closeup but yours. So mind what you do and how you do it.

3. Looping and Dubbing - At some point, you will have to loop or dub sound. For some reason, the sound track is no good. (In film, as a rule, sound is done separately from the picture and is married to it later). So now you have to go back and do it again. Dubbing means that you add your voice but you're not seen on camera, or your back is to the camera. Looping means that you must record your lines while matching the movement of you lips on the screen. It's called looping because a small section of film is cut out and shown over and over and over again until the lines you're recording are perfectly in sync. Now the major problem here is not the sync but the quality of your voice. Once I had to go back and lay in some dialogue on a feature six months later. I had to match a voice I had used - a dialect, a style - that I woke up with on morning in Florida.

I'm sure you've noticed that your voice changes even during the day. So it can be tough to get this right months later. There's no camera, no sets, no costume, nothing in the recording studio to recreate that high energy you had while shooting. You must work very hard to recreate your character. There are a lot of technical demands and you can get caught up. Hold on to your character. Start with the highest, most emotional lines. The recording studio's pretty sterile, and this will get you blood running and help snap you back into character. So start with those super-charged lines, even if you have to go back and redo them at the tail of the session.

4. Where's Your Look? - If you're doing a scene or closeup and you have to relate (that is, see a person or event that is off camera) - ask, "Where's my look?" Be very specific. Always go to the same spot. If it's a person, make sure they are always at the exact same height. If they tell you your look is "over there," then find something to focus on. A crack in the wall, a tree with a knot on it. Be very specific. Focus on something.

5. Types of Shots - Always ask, "Where's my frame?" A long shot (LS)means your whole body will be in frame. A medium shot (MS) means part of your body will be in frame, usually the upper torso. A closeup (CU) means your neck and head will be in the frame. An extreme closeup (ECU) could be just your face or eyes or left nostril.

Now the reason you've got to know this is obvious. You can't bounce around in a closeup or you'll bounce right out of frame. But another good reason is that you shouldn't waste energy on some part of the body that will not be seen. Years ago, a friend of mine who was a very talented actor took me to the set of a series he was starring in. He had asked for his frame and was told would be a closeup. He walked over to me and said, "Watch me real closely on this one." What I saw really blew me away. I watched all the energy leave every other part of his body and travel up to his face. I mean, I watched it go from his toes back through his feet, up his legs and chest, and up into his face. Don't waste energy on parts of the body that are not in the frame.

6. Delivering on Time - In film, but especially in commercials, time is super important. You have to find the dramatic truth by doing the lines the way you feel them while rehearsing. Then, if it takes 30 seconds, be ready to do it in five. The producer will be standing there with a stop watch (I'm serious). You have got to find that one word that you can draw out - accent - and rip through the rest.

7. Hitting a Mark - To get a picture just the way he or she wants it, your director will want you to be in an exact spot when you say a line. That spot is called a mark. This is usually just a piece of tape on the floor of the studio. Outside, it might be a line drawn in the sand with your foot. The problem is that you can never look at your mark. You have to feel it in your bones. The easiest way is to count your steps. You can mark off a piece of furniture or some other stationary object. I don't like to mark off other actors because they might not be as consistent or as careful as I am. If you want to know how close you've got to be to your mark, you'll get the idea when the assistant camera person pulls the tape measure from the camera lens to the edge of your eye. Where you are at that second is where you are in focus, in your key light. in the frame.

It takes practice and experience, but you'll get it. Take it seriously.

Your first mark is called your first position, where you start from - you'll hear it a lot: "First positions, everyone."

Tips: While the rest of the shot is being set up, instead of chit-chatting with some actor or technical person, count your steps from your first position to your mark, over and over until you're hitting it perfectly. Do it until it feels natural and you can say your lines without worrying about it. As an exercise, put a piece of tape on your floor and practice hitting it with your eyes closed. Sometimes you have two or three, sometimes more marks to hit a single scene.

8. Concentration in Film - If you've worked on stage, you've been a little spoiled. You're working in continuity. You've another actor to work off of. You're in character for a long time. The house is dark and the audience is quiet (hopefully). All this is conducive to sustaining concentration. A film set or location can be like acting in the middle of a freeway. Grips pounding nails. Gaffers hanging huge lights overhead. Camera people, makeup and sound people running everywhere. Then somebody yells, "Quiet on the set," and it all freezes. You do two minutes of acting, the director yells, "Cut," and all hell breaks loose again.

If it's an M.O.S. shot (literally, M.O.S. means "mit out sound" from an old Hollywood story of a German director referring to a scene shot without sound), the director might be talking you throughout the scene: "O.K., now kiss her neck." So you might have to keep your concentration for a shorter time than on stage. But you've got to get there a lot quicker. And go in a lot deeper just to hold on to it. A tip: learn to play chess. It strengthens concentration.

9. Don't Jump the Gun - Wait for "Action!" to start a scene. The director isthe only one who can say "Action!" And never, ever stop acting until you hear, "Cut!" The director is the only one who can say "Cut!" If you blow a line, you might want to stop. But the director might love what you've been doing up to that point and might want to see where it will go from there. Maybe he wants to see how you use the frustration of blowing a line. He may like the reaction of the other actor in the scene. He may be a sick man. But until he says "Cut!" you keep on acting, because that's your job.


10] The major difference between acting for the stage and film is that on stage you rehearse, you have previews, and your character continues to grow with every performance. In film you must have a complete, polished character from day one of shooting - sometimes you shoot the last part of a film first. That character has to be all there. So your rehearsal period must be much more intense and since quite often, you don't get very much rehearsal in film, do your homework. Lots of homework!


Now as far as actors are concerned, my advice is to be conscious of lighting. I would even recommed that actors acquire some technical knowledge of what fixtures do what, because soft light works differently than hard light. Many times these lights are set for specific positions, and if an actor hits his mark, he looks very nice. If he doesn't hit his mark, he's going to look bad. You're not in your own realm. You're not just acting for the Director, you're acting for the Director in a photographic medium. This means that the lighting that falls on you is equally as important as the acting that you're doing. Sometimes in certain lighting set-ups, you may be asked to look a certain way or hold an exact position for lighting, and it's really meant that way. If you don't hold that position, that take won't be good. And say that take has a great acting performance and another take you did hit the lighting just right, but has a bad acting performance. Either way, you're going to look bad. So, you're either going to be seen in bad lighting or bad acting for whatever take is used in the movie.

What you're looking for is to have good acting occur at the same time as good lighting. We all look good when you guys look good."