Lights, Camera, Action
Filming yourself performing a monologue can be daunting. Is it better to be in a space on your own or to have a friend take care of the camera work for you? Indoors or outdoors? Microphone or not? So many questions… It’s also strange, after spending years trying to be larger than life for stage, to have to pull it back into smaller and more intimate gestures and facial expressions.
My advice to you is to remember that the big advantage of filming your performance is that you can do as many takes as you want and choose the one you like the best to either enter a competition or share with others in whichever way you want to.
Here are some tips that might make the process easier and produce a more interesting performance for the audience
- Make friends with your camera. Have lots of practice runs to work out exactly where to need to look to make contact with the audience. Do you have to sit square onto the camera in the centre? What would happen if you just moved slightly to the side or perhaps tipped one shoulder back. Practice different angles for your body, it will add interest to your film.
- Try to avoid sitting in one place for the whole piece. Think about how to use your space imaginatively and play with your proximity to the screen. If you really want to make a point it can be very effective to move right up to the camera and equally interesting to move away. What effect might that have on the audience?
- If you have a smart phone the quality of the recording and audio is usually better than a laptop or tablet but use whatever you have to the best of your ability.
- Lighting – the basic rule is to avoid bright lights behind you and to ensure that your face is well lit. You can light yourself simply with items you may have at home or why not buy (or borrow) a ring light – they make a huge difference. Here is a links to a useful online resources
- Clarity – the same rules apply on screen as they do on stage – we need to understand what you are saying. A short warm-up even just a few tongue twisters, yawning and stretching the face before you start filming will help.
- Make sure that you understand the meaning of every word and how it should be said. Mispronounced words are the first giveaway that the actor doesn’t fully understand what they are saying.
- What else is in the shot – does it need to be there? What is missing from the shot – you should have decided where the character is when they are speaking – do you need to dress the area behind you?
- Do take into account everything you discovered in your preparation and wear appropriate clothes – it will help you and the audience to engage with your performance and believe what you are saying.
- Be brave in your acting choices. What is the physicality of your character, the reality of the given circumstances? If you want to go for a more heightened style of acting – go for it 100%
- If you want to incorporate music into your piece you do need to find out whether there are performing rights attached to it. Why not take a look at our Guide to Music Licensing.
These tips are to help you produce the best film you can with the equipment you have. BUT, the most important thing is to HAVE FUN. This is a great opportunity for you to express yourself and your creativity. Enjoy it!
In this playlist you will find a couple of short instructional videos from National Theatre of Scotland with some tips on how to use lighting for home-filming and how to film using your phone.
Here’s a link to the Spotlights website with some advice on how to self-tape for auditions. As an actor will usually be performing a monologue for this purpose there are some very useful bits of advice