French actress Jeanne Moreau (right) sleeping in her car with actress Silvana Mangano (left.)
Craft Services is a communal food table provided by the production that may have fruit, veggies, bagels, candy, water bottles, etc.
There is sometimes only on on set, which means there is a pecking order. If someone above you from the cast or crew comes over for food, I suggest stepping away until they have left.
When we book a job, there are a lot of other people that will rely on it. It's worth considering what your boundaries are, so you don't feel pressured otherwise and so you don't inconvenience a production will thousands or millions riding on us actors doing our jobs.
When you are asked to step into rehearsal, you will first Block the scene, then the crew will Light the scene as it was blocked (the camera requires the added light), then you will come back to the set and Rehearse, small adjustments will be made by different departments, and then you will Shoot.
Once you have seen the Director of Photography, who is sometimes also the camera operator, work with his crew to light a scene, you want to be aware where those lights are. When you stand on your mark, you are lit for that position, if you venture off of your mark, you might not be properly lit. Also, if you are in a scene with someone else and you are both lit, you want to watch that you don't cause shadows on their face or body while the camera is rolling. Look at their key light, the main light that is hitting their face, and stay out of its beam.
If you are in a tight shot and have to walk into it, you need to hit the mark and you definitely can't look down at the mark. I suggest you practice the move a bunch of times and you ask them to place a sandbag where your tips of your toes are supposed to land. This way you approach and can gently let your toes touch the sandbag, which is where you need to be. This also takes practice and is not as easy as it sounds. You may want to walk backwards from your final mark to your opening mark and count the number of steps. If you walk backward 8 steps to your initial mark, that means you have 8 steps from your opening mark to your final mark.
Once the initial camera set up is done, the lighting setup takes up some time. This is a good time to practice your movement in the scene. You don't want to walk under lights being mounted above you, so you can ask the Gaffer, the head lighting electrician, the Key Grip or the grips. They may be lighting your stand in, and in this event, I ask if I can be my own stand in so I can see where the camera is, the lights, the room, etc. Or you may not want to be stuck as a stand in, and then you can just ask when you can practice your move. It is no selfish to do this because if you practice your move, you are also helping the camera department by getting ready to move in a way that they can cover you or follow you. It's teamwork, just use common sense and ask for help when you need it.
(see below) If Marcello Mastroianni were to kiss Anita Ekberg on her other cheek, his head would block her light. In addition, his head would block her face from camera. Movement in front of a camera must be choreographed (blocked) so actors do not obstruct the other actor, and everyone can be seen by the camera. If you want to make sure you avoid doing this, stay aware of where the lens is pointing, what is in that frame and stay aware of where the key lights are for you and the other actor.
The Bottom Line with lights: If you have ever walked into a room that is too dark to see, then you can understand the purpose of the entire lighting crew-to make sure there is enough light for the camera to see.
You may start by 1) rehearsing the scene, then 2) the scene has to be lit. On an Indie, you may have to stand in your position while they light the scene. On a bigger production, they may have a "stand in." A 'stand in' simply stands in your position while the scene is lit. Once the scene is lit, 3) the camera operator will come in and rehearse the camera moves in the scene.
You are working with the camera. If the camera is on a tripod, on a dolly
Sometimes the person doing the slate makes sure it snaps loudly so that the sound department can hear it on their sound track. This is one of the times when the actor can be forgotten, because they place it in front of your face and the slate snapping is so loud that it hurts your ears...right before you are to do your scene! If this happens, you can politely ask if "soft sticks" can be used since it is right in your face. None of this is personal. Other departments just have their job to do and none of these departments had a class in working with living actors. We actors have a lot to learn, but we have value and that is why they hired us. We are about to shoot a scene and we are concentrating and preparing to do it. "Soft sticks" is a simple compromise that can work.
NEVER STOP A TAKE!
Of course it does happen, and there are
lots of fun accounts on imdb.com. If you look up a film at IMDB.Com and look under "goofs," you can see the continuity mistakes in almost every film.
The thing is, you may have shot the first frame size at 7am and the over shoulder after lunch. You forgot which hand you used and maybe you just didn't even think about this. The Script Supervisor carries a script and is meant to write down all the things actors do in the frame of each shot. Some Script supervisors are better than others.
When you are off camera for another actor who is getting their side of the shot, you will be placed next to camera. Allow the Director of Photography, the camera operator or the director to place you in the correct position. If the other actor's 'eye line' is off, the scene won't edit well, one person may look like they are looking in the wrong direction. You are not expected to know the correct eye line for every shot. Just allow yourself to be placed where they need you.
The long handled microphone is called a boom. A scene may be recorded with a boom.
You may also be recorded on a lavalier. This is a small microphone that attaches to your shirt or other clothing, and it requires a battery pack, which may be placed in your back pocket. Also called a 'body mic.'
A camera may be connected to a monitor for viewing. This is only for the Director, Producers, and other members of the cast and crew who are invited to watch. Avoid walking over to it and attempting to watch, unless you are invited. The crew has to see if the lighting is working, if the shot is working and all the elements involved.
A "Hot Set" sign means that everything on the set is exactly as it needs to be for shooting, in other words...don't touch anything on a 'hot set.'
Do you need to listen to your character playlist of music? I make a playlist on my iPhone for my characters and it helps me stay connected during the wait.
It is possible that you can rehearse with another actor. You can ask, but some actors don't want to do it. Everyone works differently.
Watch your favorite actors and actresses and watch their concentration. Concentration was something Stanislavsky stressed for the actor, and shooting stories on film or video are the time and place to bring concentration. Your creativity is what the camera wants, it wants you to bring the text to life. Be patient with yourself and avoid perfectionism. Bring your talent, your enthusiasm, your inner light and...bring your work ethic. Have fun! Have fun learning, have fun doing what you love to do.
Making Movies by Sidney Lumet
Figures of Light by Carole Zucker
The Name Above the Title by Frank Capra
On Movie Making (the other side of the camera):
On Film-Making/ The introduction to the craft of the director
by Alexander Mackendrick
For more information, go to http://coreyparkeractor.com