Actor/ Actress: the necessary skills for a set

This week, I was on a publicity film set that I can not say too much about yet.

In this industry, for legal reasons, it is difficult to share images before the product comes out.

Therefore, I decided to share with you, what I believe are necessary aptitudes to work on a publicity set…or any other sets actually!  

In general, the world of film and television is a dynamic fast paced environment. Publicity does not make exception to this rule. The public does not realize the number of people involved in a production. Very quickly, on this 30 second publicity set, I identified about 13-15 people that were representing the technical and creative teams. We also had a team in Toronto who were approving things as we went via Zoom.  So no need to tell you that it is pretty expensive to produce things in this industry, and I haven’t even mentioned location rental, equipment, food, costumes, etc.  It is therefore primordial for an actor to arrive prepared and ready to deliver. Like we say in this industry: “time is money!”

The second necessary composant is a great sense of manageability and a sense of adaptation. An actor needs to be able to adapt to this mentioned fast paced environment and improvize with unexpected events and changes.  One of the best examples is as we arrive on set, it often happens that a phrase has slightly been modified. We need to be able to learn the new words quickly and interpret them with the same first intended direction. 
Finally, the actor has to accept that his choices will not be necessarily the director’s choices and/or even  could be different from what was chosen at the audition or repetition. He has to be able to let go and capture the essence of what was suggested to him in the moment and add his own colour to it. On this set, I was extremely lucky to have an amazing lady director who nourished me so much with a thousand fun suggestions, going from a slightly serious interpretation to some crazy choices. Let’s say we laughed a lot!

Having fun is the key to success. I heard this for the longest time, but during many years, I confused fun with passion. There are two very different things. You can be passionate about a job that demands extreme seriousness. This sense of pleasure that comes from an artistic and creative exchange between you and the other (other actor, director, etc) comes from an assumed confidence in your Self, in your talent and a total detachment of having to please anyone. Some actors master this at a young age, but most of us will reach this maturity around age 40-50. It is a principle that we will generally apply in all spheres of our life and that also transfers to our career. This is actually what helped my come back. At the beginning I returned to the industry “just to try” after a friend agent of mine was begging me to come back under the name of this newly celebrated diversity on screen. After 2 of “sorry, no time”, I suddenly had the time due to covid. Very quickly, like after the 2nd audition, I realized that I was freed from this pressure of having to get the part or to  be perfect in all of my takes. Having fun and honouring as much as possible the vision of the director and clients (producers, companies of products, etc) are now my main directive work lines.

Finally, the last important skill to cultivate would be a great sense of listening and observing. Too often actors tend to precipitate physically the received feedbacks instead of taking the time to absorb the essence and energy of the comment. Also, when you observe and listen the exchange between the crew, it can guide you for your next takes.

Personally, I am starting to be interested in production and directing and this observation time is becoming a great way for me to learn hands on.

On a final note, each set is different, each actor is different and each experiences varie. I simply realize the importance of having fun in this industry, still keeping an acute professionalism. A principle that I also apply in life: having fun as I respect rules and others.

Looking forward to share this publicity with you! 

Love and light, V

Hair and make-up - day 1 of filming