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Getting astonishment out of an actor?


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#1 Kevin Camin

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 02:30 AM

Hello, first post here--glad to be here,

I got stuck slightly last project with trying to get an actress to react to a magic trick in a seemingly realistic way. When I say realistic, I mean I am looking for a very convincing reaction that is far removed from a stock reaction that any actor could give. Something more genuine and nuanced, but still clear and powerful.

•I prepped her with a very brief character profile. I wanted her to exude an innocent, carefree feel.

•This was a web commercial for a magician so I eventually had him do a real trick for her to give her something to react to.

•I was concerned for her to stay in the moment, so I constantly emphasized it. And I wanted the moment to feel genuine to her.

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What would you have done to get this type of reaction?

I think this is tough water, because the actor is putting themselves out there with a very raw reaction and they could easily become self-conscious if the director isn't giving profound or reassuring feedback.

Best regards,

Kevin Camin

Edited by Kevin Camin, 23 December 2010 - 02:32 AM.

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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 05:22 AM

I suspect the approach will really depend on your actor, what will work with one won't work with another. You can over emphasize and place too much pressure, so just having something for them to react to is a good method, it's very difficult to do a reaction cold. In dialogue scenes there is usually someone feeding the lines, ideally the other actor.
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#3 Mark Dunn

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 10:32 AM

Hitchcock knew how to do this, but I think you'd get sued if you tried throwing live crows at her nowadays.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 12:42 PM

You don't want to insult the actor's intelligence by giving them too many notes up front, you should watch a rehearsal or a first take to see if they get it or not and then make suggestions or corrections.
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