The Science and Art of Acting for the Camera
A Practical Approach to Film, Television, and Commercial Acting
The Science and Art of Acting for the Camera provides a precise yet practical approach to help unlock the mysteries of acting for film and television. Written by veteran actor, producer, and director John Howard Swain, the book offers a clear-cut, no-nonsense technique that equips aspiring or working actors with the necessary skills to succeed on camera. The technique teaches you how to build multi-dimensional characters; construct truthful and exciting relationships; ignite stimulating emotions; craft a series of discoveries guaranteed to energize your work; and much, much more. The book also provides instruction for actors working in commercials—from slating, to the dreaded "tell us about yourself" interview, to nailing "the tag" and embracing the cliché—and supplies sample commercial copy for students to practice.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Things Every Actor Should Know
Chapter Two: The Basics
Chapter Three: The Bones
Chapter Four: Ten Positive Attributes
Chapter Five: Relationships
Chapter Six: Main Objective
Chapter Seven: Opposites
Chapter Eight: Moment Before
Chapter Nine: Discoveries/Emotions
Chapter Ten: Beats, Tactics and Actions
Chapter Eleven: Humor
Chapter Twelve: Place, Transitions and Sense Memory
Chapter Thirteen: Status, Power and Secrets
Chapter Fourteen: Summary
Chapter Fifteen: The Technique—Condensed
Chapter Sixteen: Self-Taping
And A Few Words About Commercials
Introduction to Commercial Acting
Chapter Seventeen: The Slate
Chapter Eighteen: From Slate to Copy
Chapter Nineteen: Relationships
Chapter Twenty: Line-to-Line Objectives
Chapter Twenty-One: Moment Before and The Tag
Chapter Twenty-Two: Banter
Chapter Twenty-Three: Environment
Chapter Twenty-Four: Embracing the Cliché
Chapter Twenty-Five: Double Copy
Chapter Twenty-Six: The Dreaded Interview
Chapter Twenty-Seven: A Few Last Things
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Your Greatest Asset-You
Chapter Twenty-Nine: Commercial Practice Copy
John Howard Swain has coached a myriad of clients ranging from first-time performers to Emmy Award-winning actors, Supreme Court Justices, and Fortune 500 executives. In addition to his New York stage credits he has also guest-starred in dozens of television’s most iconic shows, including such classics as Hill Street Blues to Law & Order: SVU. As a director he has staged over twenty plays, including such hits as That Championship Season, Veronica’s Room, and The Owl and the Pussycat. He has also directed four films: Whose Life, Uncommon, Stand-by, and the multi-award winning short, A Younger Man. Students from his program continue to work across the globe, and can be seen starring on Broadway, in television, and on film.
"Swain’s The Science and Art of Acting for the Camera is a welcome addition to the study of on-camera work! It covers the nuts and bolts of a very important and sometimes ignored medium in the actor's training. Swain provides a touchstone for any actor wanting to learn and know more about working on-camera. A great addition to my library in teaching the actor for today's world."
—James Calleri, Casting Director, Head of Graduate Acting, Columbia University
"John Howard Swain not only knows how to do it, he knows how to teach it...and that is exactly what he does in his wonderful new acting manual! He clarifies, encourages, and enlightens. A must-read for anyone who wants to be a better actor!"
—Mary Lou Belli, Two-time Emmy award-winning director, NCIS: New Orleans, Hart of Dixie, Pitch, Monk, The Game, Co-author of Directors Tell the Story
"John Swain’s The Science and Art of Acting for the Camera is a readable, practical, and immensely enjoyable guide to the study of acting on film. I have made my living as an actor for over forty years and still found new things to learn from his book. There are many books out there attempting to explicate the study of acting. Most only reduce it to results and pronouncements. Swain keeps it right-sized, upbeat, positive, and doable."
—Ivar Brogger, Department of Theatre, Chapman University
"I have had the good fortune to work with John as both a teacher and a director and have also had the pleasure of watching him work as an actor. The unique thing about his approach to the work is that he can see it from all sides. He is able to take what he knows and assist the actor so that his performance is not only clearer but also more powerful. It is truly the marriage of science and art that makes acting seem effortless. How lucky for actors that John has written this book to share his thoughts!"
—Summer Crockett Moore, Producer, Junction, Block Island, Lost Cat Corona, Wholly Broken, Above All Things, After the Sun Fell, Heather. Raising