What can you focus on right before you begin a scene? Sometimes there’s so much going through your head or in the room it can be hard to know where to guide your attention. Or, other times, you feel blank right before the camera starts rolling, and you’re not sure how to ground yourself into the role.
Try these questions and see if you can feel them in your body:
- Where am I?
- Where did I just come from? Where am I going?
- Who am I talking to?
- What do I need to accomplish?
There’s no one-size-fits-all process, but these questions are a great place to start. Check out this conversation we had in class to dig deeper.
CLASS CLIP TRANSCRIPTION
Sarah: When you prepare to begin a scene, what can you do?
Student: Like me personally?
Sarah: Yeah, or anyone. What do you think you could do to, you know, if I say like, take your time to begin, what could you do in that moment to get ready to begin a scene?
Student: I kind of just try to think of myself there. Or like build the relationships that I did build when I was going through it and try to imagine myself there. That’s what I’ve been doing.
Sarah: Yeah. The place is really important, you know, where you are. We behave, we are very different depending on where we are, right, if we’re in a park, if we’re in a library, if we’re in a hospital, if we’re in a restaurant. Who you’re with. And also, really where you’ve just come from and where you are headed. Sometimes like literally physical destination-wise, but also, like I’m leaving this destination and I’m heading to this one, but also emotionally where I’ve just come from — have I just come from breaking up with my girlfriend and now I’m walking into, like…so you know, where am I. And oftentimes, even preparing for the opposite. Preparing for the opposite is really helpful at the beginning of a scene because it helps us with the arc, it helps us have someplace to go. Sometimes for actors, even who know better, you know there’s a certain emotional journey you go on, so it’s hard to let go of that, of wanting to hit that, you know, even subconsciously knowing, oh I’m gonna get really angry in this scene, or I’m gonna cry in this scene, so thinking ahead to that moment — instead of coming in as we do in life, having no idea where we’re headed and having an expectation of things going a certain way. And sometimes, we come in with a super strong objective right from the top. And (this character) does have an overall super-objective, but in this scene the objective becomes revealed to him as the scene kicks in, right?
Student: Yeah. Yes. It shifts a little bit.Sarah: So there’s a lot of ways to prepare. Sometimes even for actors depending on what the role is, just using a certain costume piece, you know, a piece of wardrobe, shoes, something like that can be really helpful for preparing. A necklace that you’ve endowed with something. So, yeah. Finding the ways to ground you in the world of this person.