September 11, 2016

5 Acting Tips That Will Help You Give (And Get) Better Performances

"Acting is simple, but not easy."

If you're an actor, giving a great performance is your chief concern while shooting a scene—and if you're a director, it's all about getting one, but acting isn't as easy as saying a few lines and not looking directly into the camera. Actor Todd Bruno shares some tips that will not only be helpful for actors, but for directors as well.

Each of these tips from Bruno are excellent for actors, but if you're a director, they also reveal ways you can assist your actors with difficult scenes or exercises that'll help with their performance.

Know your lines

This is kind of a no-brainer—know your lines. If you don't know your lines when it comes time to shoot, you'll stop up production and then everybody will get cranky. But when it comes to how to learn your lines, Bruno suggests "rote memorization". This means that you memorize just the actual words without any inflection or rhythm attached, so when it comes time to change up the way you say it, you won't be thrown off by having to deliver your lines in a different way.

Manage your time on set

Don't waste time between takes; prepare for the next one. You could go over your lines, go over the blocking so you know exactly where you're supposed to be, and get into character. However, Bruno says don't go 100% with getting into the right state of mind for the scene. He advises to just "get the fire smoldering" so you can add fuel or oxygen to it when the time is right during a take.

Fill every scene

No scene should ever be flat, not even simple ones like walking down a hall or delivering a package. To add dimension and substance to these seemingly unimportant scenes, Bruno says to "fill the scene." For shots where there is action without dialog, he says to think about something while you're doing the action: where you're coming from, imagine people off screen, etc. You can do this too for scenes with a single line of dialog, like dropping off a file to your boss. This is when direction becomes extremely important, because the director will be the one to help an actor determine the motivation, or even help develop some kind of unestablished backstory.

Continuity

Even though there is (or should be) someone looking out for continuity errors during every scene, actors can also be extremely helpful for avoiding them. It's important to do every movement the same way at the same time during the scene, especially if there's dialog, because if you don't, you risk getting your best take cut out of the film because a continuity error made it unusable.

Take direction

The relationship between an actor and a director is one of the most important ones on a film production. It can be the most intimate, but it can also be the most volatile. This is why communication and knowing how to take direction is so integral. Some directors, especially ones who are inexperienced, may not be able to explain clearly what they need from you in a scene, which is why, according to Bruno, learning how to translate what a director is saying can be a huge benefit to you.

What are some acting tips you can share? Let us know in the comments below!     

Your Comment

7 Comments

Hey Ryan,
Great content...lousy package!!!
Cut the cutesy bullshit, speak English at a rate other than a used car salesman and you may gain more viewers. Todd...I enjoyed your tips. Very informative. Don't know how you keep from punching Ryan in the face!

September 12, 2016 at 12:27PM

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Lee Albright
Owner-Albright Films
237

At least Film Riot is funny and educational even if Ryan talks too fast.

September 13, 2016 at 7:26PM

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Anton Doiron
Creator/Filmmaker
563

Yeah its true that Ryan talks super fast. He is just trying to get info in and not spend an hour. You can always stop the video and take notes if you are slow. I think Ryan's videos are very very good and I have learnt a lot. Keep this coming. It does sometimes get on my nerve the funny stuff but I respect his style. Sometimes I lol.

September 26, 2016 at 11:51AM

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Theater actors have a tendency overact. I love some of their performances with my lines but its usually way over the top. I tell them to tone it down just a little bit. I have to remind them that the mic is close by. No need to shout the lines.
Also coming up with a thought of what the character wants in the scene or the emotional tone of the scene. "He likes her but doesn't know how to show it" or "He really hates this person" or "she is sad because xxx happened in the previous scene" this helps with not being flat.
Keep acting even if you screw up a line. Your performance may still be usable. Also stay in character a couple seconds after the scene ends before the camera stops to make life easier for the editor.

September 13, 2016 at 7:25PM

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Anton Doiron
Creator/Filmmaker
563

Thank you for all that advice. I took amazing notes. Great content, greatly delivered with a hint of sarcasm and comedy. Loved it. Hopefully, we will work together one day.
Kindest Regards,

Loran Bolding
Actress.BoldingMarketing.com

September 14, 2016 at 10:13AM, Edited September 14, 10:13AM

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Loran Bolding
Actress/Director/Screenwriter/Author
74

Coming as a director and editor, your note on continuity could be problematic. When I see an actor do the same exact thing every take I get worried. If a scene is truly alive then each moment, each take will be somewhat different, so when and where they move may also change. When actors are too focused on repeating the same movements from a previous take, their performance can often become robotic because they're not really in the moment. A good director will cover the scene so he can get himself out of a continuity problem, and a good editor will always use the best performance even if it makes his job difficult. This was a hard lesson for me to learn, because starting out as a director, I would freak out a little when the actors changed things up every take. But in the cutting room, I realized the best performances were from actors who did that.

September 2, 2018 at 5:17PM

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Great... really helpful for the beginners.
Thank you.

September 3, 2018 at 8:50AM, Edited September 3, 8:50AM

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Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
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