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How to hold focus on camera when in a group audition or with a partner

For improvised and scripted on-camera scenes, when possible, find a way to “motivate out” your actions and/or dialogue at least fifty percent of the time to maximize your facial exposure.

Motivate out: Utilizing environment or behavior to position yourself in the direction of the camera or audience so that your face is seen. It is unlike “cheating out” –which is when an actor plays out in a way that is clearly unmotivated.

Most new actors constantly look at their partner(s), which keeps them in profile. If your partner is playing toward the camera and you are always looking at him or her then you are upstaging yourself.

Upstaging yourself: Giving focus to the other actor by either constantly looking at him or positioning yourself where his or her face is seen and yours isn’t.

Those viewing the audition videos are more compelled to watch the person whose eyes they can see. Professionals understand the value and know how to motivate out. Notice I did not say “cheat out,” because that doesn’t look natural. Good camera technique enables actors to hold the viewer’s attention and look like professionals. Study actors in commercials, plays, sitcoms and soap operas. They all play to the fourth wall.

Fourth wall: An entertainment industry expression used to describe the area where the audience or camera(s) is positioned. In the theatre and on film and TV sets, actors are usually directed to play in the direction of the fourth wall.

“Motivating out” at first feels awkward because actors are used to relating to their partners. It takes a good deal of practice to make this an instinctive physicality. “Motivating out” must be integrated into your physicality, or you will need to think about it while auditioning, which distracts from your performance.

carolyneCAROLYNE BARRY, in the last 30 years, has had extensive professional experience as an Actress, Teacher, Casting Director, Director, and Producer. As an actress she has over 100 television and film acting credits and has appeared in more than 400 national commercials. In the last twelve years, Carolyne has cast over 500 commercials and infomercials for some of New York’s top commercial agents. Since 1982, she has been one of the most successful Commercial Acting Coaches in Los Angeles thanks to agents, managers and student recommendations. Ms. Barry is known and respected as the toughest and most thorough Commercial Acting Coach and at present, has twelve workshops that she offers as part of her specialized curriculum. Learn more about Ms. Barry and Master Talent Teachers