“The first time you go out in front of a camera is not like going out on a first date. You don’t have to make a special impression. The camera doesn’t have to be wooed; the camera already loves you deeply. Like an attentive mistress, the camera hangs on your every word, your every look; she can’t take her eyes off you. She is listening to and recording everything you do, however minutely you do it; you have never known such devotion. She is also the most faithful lover, while you, for most of your career, look elsewhere and ignore her.”
On first reading this excerpt from Michael Caine’s book, “Acting In Film,” I fell in love with this analogy. Coming from a theatre background, at times I’ve struggled a little with the transition to film. I’ve had theatre directors instruct me to “show” the audience what I am feeling. In contrast, casting directors for film told me my face was too expressive. I ended up feeling like I needed to dumb down or lessen my facial expressions for the camera, which only stunted the honesty of my performance. This tension between too much and too little expression was only heightened in the audition room where there is the added pressure of “proving” myself.
Realizing that the camera already loves me has completely changed the way I approach the camera, especially in auditions. I’ve started trusting that she, the camera, will see the truth in me. I no longer need to win her affection or prove my worthiness. I’ve found freedom in this unconditional love. I can just be in the moment and that will be enough.
Thank you, Michael Caine, for letting me know!
Stay tuned for more acting insights from Michael Caine and others.