by C. Raboin

  1. The First 90%. Know your lines and show up on time. You don’t start to act until you know your lines. It doesn’t matter how wonderful you are if you are not there when the camera is ready to roll.
  1. The Script. Understand the entire script. There is nothing more important.
  1. It Should Never Look Like Acting. In film (not to be confused with theater), never look like you’re acting. Dramatic film strives to be realistic – not theatrical.
  2. Action (Big A). Think in terms of Action with a big A (your purpose) in the film or in the scene, not merely what you are saying. Be driven by action (purpose) – not by lines of dialogue.
  1. Action (Small a). Think about action with a small a – the “work” you can do while you’re part of a dialogue (e.g., smoking, looking for your glasses, putting on lipstick, washing a dirty dish, tightening your tie, smoothing your dress, or reading the menu). Is there something that you can do that makes the scene go beyond – just talking?
  1. Action (B-Ball). Think about action when you are not part of the dialogue. In basketball, a strong player moves when she does not have the ball to make a play happen. The same is true of actors. The best actors do some of their best work when they are not speaking. Don’t just stop and watch when you are not part of the dialogue.
  1. Casting – Your Picture, Your Resume, Your Reel. Have a photo associated with your e-mail. When you respond to a casting call – always attach a headshot. Never assume they know you or that they have it and want to go find it. Make your resume clean and sharp. Don’t list everything – just what is important. An audition is helpful on a good day. A good reel is always helpful. You control it – you at your best. A short reel is fine – one clip is better than none.
  1. Build a Relationship. The hardest role to give an actor is the first role – the role when you have never worked together before. Be persistent. If you are interested, don’t stop submitting your name because you were not picked previously. Use the small role as an opportunity to get to know people you want to work with. (Let them know you will know your lines and show up on time.)
  1. Continuity. The director is responsible for maintaining continuity. The DP is responsible for maintaining continuity. If you’re lucky you have a specific member of the production team that is responsible for continuity. But a good actor supports the effort to have perfect continuity. Ask if you think you have been given the wrong wardrobe for a scene. If you are providing things like shoes or accessories – keep track of shoes or earrings you brought for a previous scene. How much wine was in you glass at the start of each take? Is the food on your plate back to position one?
  1. Wardrobe. When you provide your own wardrobe make sure you understand the basics of color and contrast. The camera losses detail in black garments. The camera loses detail in white garments and white reflects light more than any other color. Contrast is normally sought. Tans and pale colors often become washed out with typical southwest interior and exterior backgrounds.


No matter what your role, make your character compelling.