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On-Set Tips For Kids, Parents and Newbies Part II

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By Marci Liroff

I recently spent a few weeks on the set of CBS’ “Extant” with my 10-year-old client. It was his first project of this scale after working in commercials and short films, and as I watched him, I observed a few important lessons being absorbed. In my July 8th blog, I wrote about on-set behavior; here are a few tips as they relate to performance.

Bring a bag of toys and books.
There can be a lot of downtime on a set—it could be hours sometimes. Your child needs to be occupied both mentally and physically. Don’t let him get bored while waiting to shoot his next scene because that could affect his concentration when he’s finally called to set. Bring his favorite toys, electronic devices, DVDs, books, and a football or softball to toss outside (if there’s room). Make sure you check with the assistant directors and the wardrobe supervisor before he plays wearing his costume!

Listen up!
When the director is talking, pay close attention. Although he or she may be giving direction to another actor, that direction may include you, and this way you’re always in the loop.

There’s so much to learn while you’re on set if you keep your eyes and ears open.

Continuity/matching.
Continuity is crucial. The scenes my client did were very complicated. They shot lots of coverage with several different camera angles and setups; he probably did each scene 30 times and they had to be repeated exactly each time so they would match when the editor cut them together. My client had to learn the blocking (where you stand and when to move and say your line) and do it consistently each time or the scene wouldn’t cut together properly.

You must be completely off-book.
On the first day of work, my client’s first two scenes were one-on-one with the lead actor. They were very emotional and heavy on dialogue. The writer was taking out lines and adding new ones as we were shooting. If you don’t have your lines down cold, your head will explode from these lightning-fast changes!

Ask questions.
If the director gives your child a direction she doesn’t understand or for which she needs clarification, it’s completely acceptable for her to ask questions until she fully understands what is expected of her in the scene. Have her pick a quiet moment when the director isn’t giving instructions to the crew.

No, your other left.
The director, A.D., and camera team will be continuously giving stage directions so they can get you in focus and exactly where they need you to be in frame. It can feel tedious but once the project is completed you’ll be grateful you were able to understand their explicit directions. Learn stage directions; know your left from your right. When they say “camera left” it means what the camera sees—which would be your right.

Costume continuity.
Since you’re being covered from several different camera angles, your clothing, hair, and makeup need to be consistent. For example, once the wardrobe assistant sets your hat, collar, or hoodie in a certain way, be sure not to wiggle around and misplace the specific way they’ve arranged it on you. Kids need to be especially conscious of this.

What other handy tips can you add to this list?

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Like this article? Help spread the word!
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9 On-Set Tips for Kids, Parents and Newbies

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By Marci Liroff

Having just spent the last couple of weeks coaching my 10-year-old client on the set of the new CBS series “Extant,” I got a bird’s-eye view of the issues that kids face when working on set for the first time. My client had only shot short films, music videos, and commercials and was somewhat new to a project of this scale. There was so much to learn!

These tips are great for young actors (and their parents) just starting out.

Shhhh! Keep your voice down!
Kids get very excited on set and like to tell stories in a loud voice. It’s hard with all that kid energy! Remind your child that even though it looks like lots of fun, everyone around him is working intently and needs quiet to concentrate. You will always hear the first A.D. (assistant director) yelling, “Quiet on set!” Be aware of your surroundings, as there will constantly be heavy equipment being moved near you and you could get hurt.

Where are you?
Let the second A.D. and/or welfare worker know where you are. Even if you’re just going to “crafty” (the craft service table), check in and let the A.D. know where you’re going at all times.

Be respectful and polite with crew members.
The phrases “thank you,” “please,” and “excuse me” go a long way with the adults your child is working with. Be polite and make friends with the crew because you will see them again on other sets and you want them to remember you fondly and professionally.

No playing on set.
No playing on “hot” sets because they are prepped for a scene and things should not be moved or tampered with. Plus, some things (ladders, walls, windows) are not “real” or fully secured. Even though that couch looks comfy, you shouldn’t sit on set furniture.

Learn how to read a call sheet.
I taught my client (along with his mother) how to read a call sheet and now they know exactly what is expected of them each day and the coming day. Start focusing on scene numbers rather than page numbers from now on.

You said what about the lead actor?!

Please remember, you’re wearing a mic! Be careful what you say on and off set, because the sound department and everybody else who has earphones on can hear your every word!

Careful where you sit.
If it has someone else’s name on it, don’t sit in the chair. You’ll be very embarrassed when the executive producer asks you to get out of her chair. Only sit on chairs marked “cast,” or, if you’re higher up the food chain, with your name.

Who’s got the kid?
Kids can’t just walk off by themselves while on set. Minors must be with an adult at all times while on a film set, whether it’s their guardian, welfare worker–teacher, or sometimes the A.D. or wardrobe person.

Leave your entourage at home.
Would you bring your friends to your place of work? Probably not. Don’t bring family or friends to the set either.

These are but a few of the things I observed during my time on the set; I’ll be writing about more in my next blog.

What other handy tips can you add to this list?

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Like this article? Help spread the word!
Click to Tweet: 9 On-Set Tips For Kids, Parents and Newbies via @MarciLiroff http://bit.ly/1r6QJ4T
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Google Is Your Friend

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By Marci Liroff

When my casting director colleagues are asked, “What is the one thing you tell actors to do before their audition?” they unanimously reply, “Preparation!” I often write about preparation, as it is key to a good audition or an upcoming job, whether it be in acting or another field. In my article “How To Prepare BEFORE The Job” I talked about what you should bring up with your representation (and yourself) before committing to a gig.

Preparation comes in many forms. You’ve learned your lines and are off-book. You’ve made distinct and unique character choices. In addition, you’ve researched the filmmakers, so you know their credits and expectations based on their previous work.

I continue to be shocked by how many actors come in either for a coaching session or an audition and spout lines about a subject they don’t know anything about. Worse, they are reciting words and they don’t know the meanings.

As an actor, you are asked to interpret the material. If your character is meant to talk about a topic that you know nothing about, I expect you to look it up and do the proper research. I want you to know it inside and out. On the rare occasion that the director might ask you to riff or do some improvisation, wouldn’t it be great if you’ve already done extensive research on this topic and you’ll easily be able to talk about it as your character? Those who don’t are caught with the “deer in headlights” look plastered across their faces.

Likewise, I’ve had several instances when I’m auditioning an actor and they don’t know the meaning of the words they are saying, nor how to pronounce them. When you mispronounce a word or don’t know the meaning or intention of what you’re saying, it lacks conviction. It takes me out of the scene and I stop believing you. As much as casting directors say that we want you to get the job, you lose us when you don’t do the simplest bit of homework. Correct pronunciation is the most basic part of your preparation, and it never ceases to amaze me when an actor doesn’t take this essential step.

Imagine you are a doctor who is performing surgery tomorrow. I will bet that you’d do research and reread the latest literature on the procedure. This is your job, folks; this is what you have chosen to do for a living. If you try to take shortcuts then that is the career you’re going to have. I can guarantee it.

What about you? What steps do you take to prepare? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

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Click to tweet: #Google Is Your Friend – look it up BEFORE your audition! http://bit.ly/1s4nh1b via @MarciLiroff pls share
Click to tweet: Know what you’re talking about and how to pronounce the words BEFORE your audition http://bit.ly/1s4nh1b via @MarciLiroff pls share
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