Arts & Entertainment

Acting on a Film Set

Helen Mirren

Lesson time 19:52 min

Helen gives you a unique look at what acting on a film set is actually like and shares the key to success when working to camera: concentration.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Your First Day on Set • Always Be Aware of What's Going On • Go Deep Into Your Imagination • Learn the Intricacies of Working to Camera • Get to Know Your Crew • Always Be Willing to Do Another Take for Sound • Befriend Your Script Supervisor • Remember, We're All in the Same Boat • Don't Be Afraid of the Unexpected


OK. Picture's on. Camera A set? Camera B set? OK. Lock it up, guys. Last looks if you need it. This is for picture. Looking at my mark. I have to stand on my mark. Yep. Now this is what happens just before you do a take. You're in your world, you're in your character, you're in your environment. Wherever that is. It might be ancient Rome, you know, it could be anywhere. But at this point, you have to cut all this stuff out of your world. You have to maintain your concentration, re-find your character, re-find your environment. And now maybe you're ready to work. And now we're ready to go. Action. And when the director calls action, you don't have to say action straight away. You don't have to start acting straight away. If you need a little more time just to pull yourself down from all this amazing distraction you've had to deal with just in preparing to come up before you come on the set, and then coming on the set. You know, a set is an incredibly distracting environment. And it's all about maintaining concentration. I'd like just for one second to show you the world that I'm living in that's apart. This little world is nice, but look at this other world that I'm living in. So you see, here's the camera crew that I'm looking at. There's my director who always insists on wearing a bright red hat so that he really stands out. Which is very annoying. Here's our beautiful sound operator, Yvette. I mean look what she's doing. It's extraordinary. So that's what I'm looking at. That's what's in my eye line. Just outside of my eye line is a whole other world. I have to just concentrate all of my thought. My mind, my imagination has to go into very often a little square, a little mark on the camera. So this is what I'm acting to. This is my eye line. This is where I have to pour all my emotion, all my thought, all my feeling. Into this read this little square by the side of the camera. The actor who's maybe giving me the off camera lines will be standing around about here, where at the moment my director is standing. But I don't look at him, I look at the little red dot. I just hear the lines coming from off camera. I want to step back a bit now and talk about what happens when you first walk on to the set. It's a new set-- maybe you're playing a medium-sized role, a small role, a larger role, whatever it is-- you walk onto this set full of strangers. Now maybe you've been on sets before, so you have an understanding of-- you certainly by now probably know who the AD is, because the AD has come to get you out of the makeup or out of your trailer. He said, they're ready for you on set. Now, I have a little trick I'm going to share with you. On my first day of shoot, I always go to the set early. I make sure that I'm ready in hair and makeup earlier than ...

About the Instructor

In her first-ever online acting class, Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren shares the techniques she has learned through the course of her international career that has spanned stage, screen, and television. Her powerful and versatile performances have earned her numerous awards, including the Academy Award in 2007 for her performance in The Queen, a Tony Award in 2015 for her performance in The Audience, and four Emmy Awards.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Helen Mirren

In 28 lessons, the Oscar, Golden Globe, Tony, and Emmy winner teaches her process for acting on the stage and screen.

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