Acting Beats

An acting beat (also referred to as a performance beat) is a unit of action committed by a character. There are literally hundreds of these acting beats in a feature-length film. Every time the action of a character changes, a new acting beat begins. Each acting beat can be described by an action verb.

In the example of the student coming late to class, my action verb, "to reprimand," was an acting beat. But before that beat could take place there had to be at least one acting beat that proceeded it, no matter what the circumstance or wants attendant to this particular story. What is that acting beat that must precede any exchange between characters? Awareness! In order for me or anyone else to reprimand someone — or to greet them — we must first become aware that they are present.

In addition to the narrative/dramatic elements I have already introduced, are there others that would be helpful? There are. And they go to the heart of the methodology you are offered in this book. I have found them imbedded in hundreds of dramatic scenes in films of every genre and culture. Directors who can identify these elements will obtain a clarity about their scenes that will inform their work with actors, their staging, and not least, their camera.

Dramatic blocks, narrative beats, and a scene's fulcrum are three of these elements I have identified and given labels to, and each of them has to do with the organization of action. These are the subject of the next chapters.

Film Making

Film Making

If you have ever wanted the secrets to making your own film, here it is: Indy Film Insider Tips And Basics To Film Making. Have you ever wanted to make your own film? Is there a story you want to tell? You might even think that this is impossible. Studios make films, not the little guy. This is probably what you tell yourself. Do you watch films with more than a casual eye? You probably want to know how they were able to get perfect lighting in your favorite scene, or how to write a professional screenplay.

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Responses

  • carol
    What are acting beats?
    8 years ago
  • manu
    What is an acting beat?
    8 years ago
  • sayid
    What are dramatic blocks in film?
    8 years ago

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