Most movie work starts very early in the morning, so you can count on rising before dawn. Make sure that you have had plenty of rest in the days and nights preceding, because you might have trouble sleeping the night before. Do everything within your power to be in good mental and physical health. You know your body better than anyone else, so make sure it gets what it needs to function properly. The average day of shooting is twelve to fourteen hours; it will be strenuous work, so you should be in good condition.
Your acting instrument should be in good condition as well. Most of the work that you do must be done in your private, extended confrontation with the character—before you get in front of the camera. You're already well ahead of the game if you have been lucky enough to have had some form of rehearsal prior to shooting. But as I've mentioned in previous chapters, this will not always be the case; many times, your preparation has been left completely up to you.
There are a great many unknowns for the actor on the set, but the film production company has tried to schedule the days as efficiently as possible for all concerned. Sometimes, the difficulties of the actors are taken into consideration, but usually, the actor is not consulted in the planning process. The actor has little or no control in this area. There are things that are in your control and are expected of you when you start working; to some degree, they are the reasons that you were hired for this part in the first place.
You have been hired because you have a certain look and energy. The production expects you to show up with that same look and energy. As a lead character, you have probably been styled and outfitted by the production beforehand. If you had straight, long, blonde hair when you were styled that they thought was great, you cannot show up for work with red hair and a perm. This would be a disaster for the production company. Sure, there are wigs, but they haven't planned one for you. You could hold up the entire production while they figure out what to do.
The same is true of your weight and physical condition. The stress before starting to shoot can do strange things to your body. Your best defense is to be aware of how you are physically reacting to the stress. If you do the relaxation and concentration during this time period, it will help you to focus.
You should have gone through a thorough exploration of the emotional life of your character and how that character resonates in your acting technique. As I have mentioned before, a film character is continually evolving, right up until the final movie print is made. As the actor, you are expected to lay a sturdy foundation for the character, to support the possible demands that will be put on you to portray that character. This not only includes the scenes as depicted in the script, but any other ideas that may come up along the way. Once you're on the set, the director would like you to be able to perform anything that might be asked of you, believably and as the character. If you have done your preparation, you will be able to remain flexible to all demands put on you, while keeping an open mind.
You are expected to have a thorough knowledge of the script, particularly your scenes. Your lines for the scheduled scenes that day must be memo" rized, and you should be prepared to quickly recall to memory any of the & lines in the script in the event of a schedule change. Unlike a play rehearsal, ™ a schedule change on a film set means that you're going "for real." If one < of your scenes is replaced with another, you have to have worked on the rest „ of the script enough to act any part of it in an hour or two's notice.
Of course, you must be ready and on time for your pickup call. I would suggest waking up with enough time to do some kind of physical warm-up. I personally prefer a half-hour of not-too-strenuous yoga. This gets me stretched out, relaxed, and gets my breath in place. I will then do about ten to fifteen minutes of voice warm-ups, so my voice is protected and supported during the long day of shooting. Each person is different and should do whatever makes her most comfortable. I can tell you this, though: I am not a morning person—I naturally start to come alive in the evening—and it is for this reason that I always do warm-ups before an early pickup.
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