Michael Caine is an actor who knows his craft inside out. His screen career has spanned five decades, he has won two Academy Awards. He has acted alongside everyone, from Jack Nicholson to Kermit the Frog.
Back in the 1980’s he recorded a Masterclass for the BBC where he delved into the world of Screen Acting. This hour of television was one of the most useful bits of training in my whole career. I learnt so much.
For years all I had as a reference and reminder was a battered VHS copy, but now if you look around on the web you will find the entire hour full of tips, tricks, techniques and teachings available on DVD and a paperback book.
The DVD is now available through Amazon, although do check that you have a multi-region player as this is an American DVD.
Also for sale is the book, which is a really useful transcript of the Masterclass and a great read when you are in the trailer waiting for your call, or in the hotel room the night before worrying about what the shoot holds.
Michael Caine’s Acting for the Camera Masterclass
Here are my top tips from Michael Caine’s Masterclass for film acting:
Film acting is mostly reacting and listening
When speaking to an actor off camera, look into one eye and stick with it.
When you are rehearsing with a fellow cast member if a crew member thinks you are having a real conversation and not actually rehearsing, then you are pitching it at the right level.
Everyone on set is on your side, they are making sure you appear your best on film. No one is your enemy. You will do your best when you realise this and can relax in front of the camera.
Play everything subtlety. The camera will catch everything you do
Every actor steals gestures and behaviours from each other, but the best actors make them their own. Steal from the best, and then own it.
If you are exhausting yourself in front of the camera you are doing something wrong. Film acting is relaxation.
Theatre Acting is an operation with a scalpel. Movie Acting is an operation with a laser.