Shooting Commercials vs. Shooting Print

I’ve always enjoyed performing in front of a camera. There’s something about being seen that is exciting to those of us who are born with the entertainer’s gene. While I love performing live in front of an audience in a play for example, I also find performing for the big, still machine – the camera – exhilarating. Even though there are others around you, the crew for example, it’s still just you and the camera, and it’s up to you to make it happen. The camera will capture it all; it’s your trusted partner.

Shooting commercials requires a different set of skills compared with shooting print jobs. While both require the talent to be “on” and perform, you can get away with a certain amount of physical and emotional experimentation for the still camera since you only need to find that one shot out of many selects. Whereas with moving film your experimenting – very often key to finding the character – is different because the moving camera picks up everything, and certain performances, depending on a scene’s duration among other aspects, cannot be edited. The key aspect of acting on film is your focus. Keep with your intention and you will not go wrong. Breathing helps too and I highly recommend it whether you’re performing or not!

Shooting a commercial in Austria a few years ago, I was reminded of this. We were in a ski town high up in the Alps, and I would get sudden bouts of lightheadedness, which would interrupt the job. Not good. Stopping and deeply breathing for five minutes saved me and in turn guided me naturally back to my intention in the scene.

The job got much easier from then on and I never again forgot to breathe on set!

Claudia MasonComment