Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Film "Learnings" from an Amateur

Yes, I’m aware that “learnings” is not even a word.  But if teachings can be, then why not learnings? 

Anyway…even though I’ve done quite a few commercials and industrials, you won’t find many film credits on my resume yet.  I’m working on that and actually just wrapped on my first real production of any note just two weeks ago. 
Needless to say, although I’m going to say it, film is a completely different animal.  Being on other sets prepares you a bit but there were quite a few surprises in store for me on my first real film shoot. 

Here are a few of the “learnings” that I picked up:
You will get no rehearsal and even if you do, it’s for the camera people and director, not necessarily for your performance.  -  If you want a rehearsal beforehand, don’t be afraid to ask your cast mates.  Most of them will be happy to run through it with you. 

Your scenes may or may not be shot with a real live human. – In several scenes, the other actor wasn’t there.  I had to really create in my mind what was going on in the scene, hear his voice, see his reactions and deliver my lines.  This was probably my biggest struggle of the entire shoot.    

What looks best on camera may not look or feel at all natural in real life. – At one point I had a choke hold on my co-star while my (clothed) boob was squished awkwardly by a chair for take after take of a close up shot.  At first I was a little rattled by the discomfort but had to push it out of my mind in order to do exactly what the director wanted.    I’m sure the shot will be beautiful, even if it did hurt and look weird at the time. 

Be prepared for ANYTHING - The way you rehearsed it in your mind, and what the director asked for in your audition and callback, may end up being shot completely differently.  I had an intense fight scene in this film, which I got cast mostly because I conjured the emotion for it.  When it came time to shoot the actual scene, the director did a 180 and asked us to make it an intimate moment.  Wow, that was a curve ball.  I was able to adjust on the fly but it felt awkward. 

Just because your call time is at a certain time doesn’t mean you’ll be acting anytime near it. – In commercials, I’m usually on set and ready to start within 1.5 to two hours of my call time.  In film, it’s much different, there’s a lot of hurry up and wait.  One of our cast members had a call time at 8:00 p.m., his scene didn’t start shooting until 3:00 a.m.  Commercials and smaller productions work on tight schedules and budgets, the sooner they can get it in the can, the better.  Films don’t operate this way.  Be prepared to wait, a lot. 

Now that I’ve got this one under my belt, I’ll definitely be more prepared next time around.  Here’s to more film bookings!


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