For years, Nadel Paris being an Acting Coach has been experienced those talented theatre actors as they make the transition from stage to film and television acting. It seems the distinction between stage and film acting has become an obsession for actors who want to make the leap!
The ability to adapt between the two has undeniably become an extremely important skill for any actor who wants to be a working professional. Nadel Paris has worked with students who have thrived in theatre; but found themselves a bit befuddled when it came to translating their acting ability to film.
The first difference is important to grasp, as the medium will determine how the story will be told. In theatre, the actors relay the story as it happens via monologues and dialogue. But in film, there is much less dialogue and the camera tells the story visually. So, in film, the actor will be communicating via looks, action, behavior and emotion and will sometimes simply utter only a few lines of dialogue. That same scene in a play might be executed in a five-minute monologue presented to a live audience. Also, on stage that actor can never really “utter.” In theatre the actor must be heard all the way to the back of the balcony and will project their voice accordingly. Here are some points underlined by Nadel Paris regarding the concern:
Everyone has good and bad days, and, in theatre, an actor could very well “pretend” some of their emotions. As some theatre actors may not like to admit it, the rigors of performing night after night can lend an actor to skilfully execute their emotion outwardly. A stage actor understands that as long as there is a theatrical energy emanating, the audience will continue to be engaged.
In film, the emotions are intimate and raw; as the lens is recording the actor up close. It isn’t easy to pretend or even try to get away with faking an experience. In film, the actor must commit to the truthfulness of the life they are playing.
If you love acting, you quickly realize that it doesn’t really matter what medium you are currently working in, as long as you are effective in each one of them. Often working in one medium can lead to getting you a gig in another. So it’s important to keep working the skills required for each medium.
The rehearsal process is vastly different from one medium to the next. The beauty of theatre is that it affords the actor the opportunity to develop a character over a four-week period (give or take a week or two). What a luxury to nurture character development while memorizing your lines! In film, you are lucky to get a few days of rehearsal, dependent on the budget and the director… and in television; you most often won’t get any rehearsal at all! In television, your rehearsal is the run-through prior to the director and DP setting up the camera for the shot.
Sometimes, a series regular might really enjoy the rehearsal process and you luck out and get a session prior to the 2nd AD calling for you to be on set.
Not adjusting can make your performance seem garish or melodramatic. One difficult challenge for film acting in particular is learning to be more still. This is arguable beneficial in stage acting as well, but it’s essential on screen, where every hand wave or head shake is visually amplified.
Film actors must also keep in mind physical continuity in a given scene — which hand s/he is holding a glass with or which direction s/he turns at a given point, for instance. This allows the editor to splice together a smooth scene that doesn’t look “cut up” jarring. The same goes for vocal choices like accents, pitch or even volume.
Nadel Paris is an American citizen born and raised in France. She is also an actor, an acting coach, a film/TV producer and the owner of the leading acting institution in personal growth for children.
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