How do you make sure you stay in frame and focus while performing? What is the best way to work with off-camera actors while performing a close-up? How can props like cigarettes become a major headache? Michael Caine answers these questions and more as part of a film acting workshop broadcast on the BBC.
10 lessons from Sir Michael Caine on film acting
1) When speaking to an actor off-camera, look into one eye and stick with it.
2) Film acting is, in large part, reacting and listening.
3) While rehearsing something with a fellow actor, if a crew member can come up and recognize you’re rehearsing vs. having a real conversation, then you aren’t doing it right.
4) An actor relaxes in front of the camera by concentrating, and knowing that you have no enemies on set, everyone’s on your side and doing their best to make you look your best for the movie.
5) The camera catches everything you do, so don’t be afraid to play things subtly.
6) If you’re going to smoke on-screen, you must plan it absolutely perfectly, don’t mess up the continuity.
7) All actors steal certain gestures and behaviors from other actors — but the best actors make these gestures their own. Steal from the best, and make it your own.
8) You can make four pictures as an actor in the time it takes a director to make one — so if you’re an actor planning on becoming a director, consider the financial aspect.
9) A majority of movie acting is relaxation. If you’re knocking yourself out, you’re doing it wrong.
10) Theater acting is an operation with a scalpel, movie acting is an operation with a laser.
You can watch the hour-long BBC Michael Caine Acting Masterclass special on youtube. Highly recommended for actor and non-actors a like.
I love the part where Michael Caine talks about the importance for an actor to at least be familiar with the technical parts of filmmaking and how it can affect a performance.
Interestingly enough, the BBC workshop has a companion book written by Michael Caine called “Acting in Film: An Actor’s Take on Movie Making”.
Here’s Michael Caine talking about acting tips from his book.