If you’re cast in a daytime or primetime series, film or even a major market commercial, there are usually professional teams of people to make you look good. But if you’re on the set of a low budget indie, a non-union industrial or a web series- there may not be anyone to give you a professional “camera ready” appearance. The difference between good work and mediocre is a few simple things you should learn how to do yourself. No matter what project you’re appearing in you need to look great.
And if you aren’t shooting a film or TV project, being camera ready for AUDITIONS, INTERVIEWS and WORKSHOPS is essential especially if there’s the least possibility that you’ll be meeting Top Industry Professionals.
We recently had a Marketing Intensive Workshop with a slew of A list Agents, Network Exec’s and TV Producers on a panel. When asked WHO in the room of 25 actors they would call in, represent, audition or HIRE for their EMMY Award series, they looked around the room, conferred with each other and said, “NONE!”
The attendees were in shock. Why wouldn’t they be considered for a contract role? The high powered guests hadn’t even seen their work since this was a NO audition workshop. Obviously, it wasn’t just about the audition.
The answer? No one was dressed appropriately, looked fabulous or gave the impression they were ready for a major role. Since it was a weekend workshop most actors chose to come casual- even though they knew they would be meeting some pretty heavyweights in the Biz. Wearing jeans, sweats, t-shirts, no make-up for some of the girls, hair wacked back in a clip…the general impression was that they were students in a class not networking with A List movers and shakers. First impressions count! Most Pro’s decide in the first 4-7 seconds if they want to audition or hire you. Oops!
Here are some tips so you can always be camera ready.
1. MAKE-UP -Bring your own make-up- guys included. Either cream or liquid foundation to match your natural skin tone and powder! Everyone looks shiny, greasy or sweaty on camera! Unless you’re playing a long distance runner or are doing a re-make of Broadcast News (remember Albert Brooks who was so nervous he had “flop sweat” when reporting the evening news?) you don’t want to let them see you sweat.
Solution: Use pressed powder in a compact. It has a flat round soft cotton pad that smoothes the powder on your skin- especially on your nose, forehead and chin- where actors appear to be the “shiniest”. Or use natural mineral products with a large brush to get rid of the “shine”.
LIPS: Unless it’s a vampire movie, ladies, please avoid the red, wine, crimson, fuchsia, purple, or cabernet lipstick. (if your skin tone is very dark you are the exception and some of these shades might work). But most broadcast quality cameras are highly sensitive and will actually exaggerate the color-it will appear darker – you might look like you have bloody lips or just look strange. EYES: Less is more in a close-up. What looks lovely on the street- black liner, frosted shadow looks like a raccoon on camera.
Solution: Go for a more fashionable natural or warm color of lipstick with a small amount of gloss. Simple mascara and soft shadow- no glitz or frost.
3. HAIR DESIGN- Bring hairspray, gel or mousse. Unless you’re running into the wind in every take your hair will inevitably get into your face, your mouth, your eyes. Girls with WAMP hair usually suffer the most. What is WAMP? That long, straight, hanging hair that never stays in place when you start talking. Nothing wrong with long hair. You just don’t want to be pushing it constantly behind your ears or flopping it back-it’s annoying to your audience.
Solution: Just cut layers, curl it, wave it or straighten it with an electric straightening iron so it has body and is “disciplined” into staying in place, not hanging limply. For guys, if you have a buzz or military cut, no worries. You’re exempt. Everybody else, spray it. You don’t want hair to get in the way of your performance.
4. WARDROBE - Avoid red, white or black (depending on your character and the situation). If given a choice, choose more vibrant colors. On a lower budget set, the lighting may not be too refined so red may glare, turn orange, icky pink or appear to be a large blood stain-not attractive. Black just looks dull and absorbs all the energy unless you are portraying an FBI agent, or a high powered Attorney in a power suit. Even then you can always wear a shirt with a warm shade of blue, peach, yellow or green. White may “ghost” – that’s a thin green line that appears around you so you look ghostly. These things all depend on the experience level of the director or lighting designer. Dark wine, navy, dark green or gray-all these just make you appear to be a conservative, dull or depressed character.
Solution: If the costume designer gives you clothing in dull or dark shades, counter the effect by bringing a bright scarf, or accessory- handbag, shawl, tie, vest, hat…think around the dreary outfit you may have to wear. Solid colors always make you look thinner and more refined. Unless your character is a dowdy person bring your own vibrancy and colors! You’ll stand out and might garnish more kudos for your performance!