When you move to Los Angeles, you are inundated with training options. There are so many acting studios and so many great teachers. Within just a few square miles, you can learn anything from Meisner to improv to modern dance to stage combat. And as an actor, you should be diverse and well-rounded! But, as a working actor in Los Angeles, there is one class that you must take: an on-camera acting class.
This may sound obvious, but many acting studios offer fantastic training and do not focus on camera work. Be sure to find a place that does! Here are three benefits of an on-camera acting class.
1. On-camera classes prepare you for the audition room. Knowing how to interact with the camera is knowing how to interact with the audition room. By taking an on-camera acting class, and watching your playback tapes very carefully, you can figure out what works for you and what does not. At my studio 3-2-1- Acting School in Los Angeles, every class ends with a playback. This way my students see what is and isn’t coming across on camera.
Are you walking into the room with confidence and then freezing up on camera, or perhaps the opposite? Maybe you are rocking your on-camera acting work but could use some polishing on your actual entrance into the audition room, or your slate. Your exit is important, too. A quick one is best with a simple, “Good luck with this project!”
In my 25 years of teaching, I’ve seen countless actors increase their booking rates in a matter of weeks, just by shifting a few simple things in my on-camera class. It works!
2. On-camera classes teach you how to relate to the camera lens. There are a few things that every actor must understand when it comes to on-camera auditioning. I’d say one of the most important is eye lines. Knowing where you are in relation to the camera lens and how your eye line is going to come across in your audition is paramount. So often, actors will look too far off to the side, too far down, or read off the cue card and lose awareness of the placement of the camera in the room. They are producing great work, but the casting directors who are viewing it can’t experience it because they can’t see into the actor’s eyes. Your emotional life is seen in your eyes, so make sure the camera can see your eyes.
On the flip side, looking directly into the camera only works for certain types of auditions—usually for commercials. Being able to navigate where, exactly, to set your focus in relation to the camera lens is essential.Though a camera is a piece of equipment, you should view it as your friend. Get used to interacting with the camera as though it is a living, breathing being!
3. In on-camera classes, you learn to connect with your reader. In an on-camera class, you will learn to navigate the balance between positioning yourself in relation to the camera, technically speaking, and connecting with your reader. Connecting with your reader is so important! We, as actors, have little to no control over who we will be reading with in an audition room, so rehearsing with multiple types of readers in an on-camera class is great practice. Be sure to practice with a reader who delivers a completely monotone performance. Often, audition readers are not trained actors so you cannot rely on the reader for fuel for your character. But you must, nonetheless, connect with the reader like she is Meryl Streep every single time you audition.
The great thing about an on-camera class is that you will be able to watch back multiple takes of the same audition script, with different types of readers. You’ll be able to see if and how your performance shifts when the reader shifts. This is such fantastic practice for every actor.
I wish you the best of luck in pursuing your training as a professional actor. The most important thing is that you have fun while you are learning, growing, and studying! If you are enjoying your work, chances are, the casting directors will too.
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