On the way to acting class, for the first time since I moved to London, I got off at Liverpool Street Station instead of Shoreditch High Street. I love the vibes in East London, and it’s funny to see how the scenery changes as you walk from fancy shops to more quirky ones, from one neighbourhood to the other. Trendy cafes, vintage stores, the modern architecture blends with the old one, and then as you walk towards Brick Lane, you get the more industrial feels. As I’ve never been in that area on a Sunday, I was in for a surprise. The streets were buzzing with some very talented street musicians and performers – and some less talented ones too. Market stalls everywhere, colourful fruits and veg, cool clothing and art. To me, this is like a blend of New York and Barcelona.
Anyway, to the point. I have been taking a few drop-in acting classes on Brick Lane, at the Actors Door Studio. Today we had a screen acting class to practice our on-camera skills.
I love being on camera, even if it scares me. In a weird way, I enjoy overcoming my fears. During our first take, however, I was not able to shake that initial nervousness. It’s been a while since I had to “perform” in front of a class, so I felt a bit out of practice. The second take was much better and I was able to focus on the actual scene instead of thinking of my lines and being overly self-conscious.
Screen acting is more subtle than stage acting, the camera picks up everything, every little thing you do with your face and your body – and especially with your eyes. Now, this is something you can definitely turn in your favour. I think that is one of the reasons I love this work so much because it can be really subtle and delicate, yet super powerful.
Watching back yourself on camera can be hard sometimes. I am okay with my voice, I learned to like it over the years. I can be still very critical about my looks though, and only see my flaws, the bags under my eyes, those fine lines, or how unflattering my hair looked in that particular take. You know the drill…
It is tough when we have an idea in our head about how we think we look, and a certain camera angle and some bad lighting can ruin that illusion within a matter of seconds. Oh well. That won’t hold me back from doing my best as an actor. I tend to distance myself from my personal judgements when watching my scenes and be as objective as possible. That being said, if I see there is a place for improvement both in the way I look or act on camera, I am going to do something about that.
You can also learn a lot just by watching others and hearing the feedback they get on their acting.
One of the treasures of acting lies between the lines – those moments when you don’t speak. Just listen with your internal monologue in your head. You are present and engaged with the other person or people in the scene.
That is certainly something we could do more of in real life – listening. We all just want to be heard but are often reluctant to truly listen to what others have to say.
To wrap it up: Here is my face when I am about to tell someone that their the woman they thought their mother was is actually theur..kidnapper. Oops!
You can also watch the video here: