Saturday, August 6, 2011

On Set

So. My first film.

Sort of. There were the two NYU scene studies, a couple pages long each. Then there were the three or four times I was an extra for something (the latest on Thursday, pictured to the left). Or the time I had a nonspeaking role in a (I believe still unfinished) vampire video my high school buddies were making. Somehow or another there ended up being footage of me, in a suit, standing facing a wall about two inches in front of my nose.

And of course there was my reality show about studying abroad in India.

But this is the first time I've been in a fictional, self contained movie, with a speaking part. The lead speaking part, actually. You hear occasionally from celebrities that acting for film is hard work. My impression so far is that that's not quite true. The work is repetitive, sometimes in somewhat uncomfortable temperatures for your costumes, and it goes for long hours, but it's not hard. What makes it seem hard is that you're usually surrounded by stressed out sleep deprived people whose work is hard. The feeling of hard work is sort of contagious.

I prefer Al Pacino's (alleged) quote: "If acting on stage is like walking a tightrope, acting on camera is like walking on a chalk line on the ground." If you mess up on film, you just stop and try again.

Really performing on camera feels a lot like rehearsing for the stage. Just a lot smaller. When you're on stage, you need to evoke the place, circumstances, mood, scope, and a lot of other things besides. When you're on camera, a lot of that is done for you by the lighting, set, makeup, costumes, angles, and editing. So you just have to make everything a lot smaller and more... natural, for lack of a better word. You as the actor carry a lot less weight of the final product than you would on stage.

So if performing for a camera feels like rehearsal for stage, rehearsing for camera is a different animal entirely. It's very detailed, but it feels really easy. I'm in each scene with one other character. One of my favorite things about this has been going to rehearse each day at the same location with a new actor each day, and sharing the identical walk back to the subway afterwards with each one. They each talk about something different, and have a different story about their acting career and how they got where they are. It's fun.

So today we shot half the movie, in chunks, out of order. Because we can. Tomorrow we shoot the other half the same way. Then the next day we finish up a couple final clips. Then the next day I fly out to the west coast to visit my family.

Man, this is going fast.

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