Creating An Authentic On-Camera Persona

Creating An Authentic On-Camera Persona
It's hard to step on camera for the first time, especially when there's pressure to be "authentic." I asked around the office for people's tips for keeping it real on screen.
My best suggestions are to have a script written up in advance, and understand the main concepts of what you are trying to convey in the video.  I think the planning part is pretty crucial - if you get in the head of your viewer, you'll understand what type of value they will want to get from watching the video, so your answer (i.e. script) will be designed for them. Then, force memorization, and don't use a teleprompter device - it's impossible to be authentic with a teleprompter!  Finally, work with a good director, who can spot when you are being authentic and call you on it if you aren't. 

I think an authentic on-camera persona is best created by taking a relaxed, not-in-yo-face attitude. Talking to the camera like it's one of your friends (it's easy with Lavigne back there!) makes you feel comfortable, and when you're comfortable behind camera it's tough not to come across as authentic.

It's all about getting comfortable with the fact that you're on camera. And not being afraid to laugh at yourself when you screw up.
Trust in the person that is editing the video that it's in EVERYONE'S best interest to use lines and takes that reflect you in the best light.
- Lighten up! Don't overthink the line.
- If you're reading off of a script or a pre-scripted line, think about the meaning of what you're saying, not just the words. If you actually believe in what you're saying, then say it like you mean it.
- Did I mention lighten up? Don't be afraid to go way overboard with emotion, because you can always back it down. -Chris L.
Pretend you're talking directly to a customer instead of talking to the camera or a large audience. -Ben
- Try to have a conversation with the person doing the shooting.
- Watch your first take or two to see what the camera sees ... and how inauthentic you sound. Then try again.
- Don't listen to me because I'm still learning. (Oh, stop it!)
- Keep your lines short and don't worry about hitting them word for word.
- Do something fun between takes to distract yourself; I pick up random stuff and try juggling it. It helps me go from super nervous to marginally nervous. -Ezra
I'm not great on camera (again: oh, stop it!), but I like to imagine I've just stepped into a room of people who really want to be my friend.  Also, I don't know what the science word for this is, but using expressions as a feedback loop is awesome - happy, excited people open their eyes wide, lean forward, smile wide and move their lips more when they speak (vs. mumbling), so if you try to manipulate your face like this it actually makes you feel happier, excited, and more engaging. 
- Eye contact (with the camera).
- Actual/honest facial expressions that you'd use in any conversation with another person.
- Move... don't stand still.
- Don't speak in a monotone.
- Get your hands in the frame somehow.
You shouldn't fight your personality, way of speaking, and vocabulary. It's tough to write a script in your own voice, so instead first focus on getting the major points across. Once you've nailed the points, read your lines aloud or to somebody else. You goal is to make your presentation as natural as possible. The closer the performance is to the real you, the easier it's going to be to be authentic. Viewers want to see your personality shine through. That's one of the things that makes video so interesting. The closer you can get to using your real voice in the script, the more authentic the performance is going to feel. -Chris S.What is the characters role? ally, opponent, false friend

Method 1 of 4: Key questions
What is the heroes goal?
Who is the opponent? opposition is an important part of a story so consider who your antagonist is.
What are the characters traits? physical, sociological(married, homeless, class), psychological (fears, phobias)

Method 2 of 4: Stereotypes/archetypes
Stereotypes. Stereotypes should be avoided as they most often reinforce a negative image, for example it has taken decades to get over Hollywood's stereotyping black people. you can however create interesting characters by subverting a stereotype by giving them an odd trait, for example a body builder could have a passion for classical music or like arranging flowers.
Archetypes. Archetypes are very powerful as we are all aware of them. Here are the common types of archetypes:

Hero, Sage, Magician, Ruler, Jester, Lover. The explorer. free spirit. The rebel. breaks rules Creator. Care giver. Orphan/regular guy or gal. Innocent/virgin.

Method 3 of 4: Externalize
Decide on location. Where would your character live or act? Does your villain prefer a dark evil lair full of technological doodads, or do they want to live in a shadowed, dark, cave that is full of shadows?

Or do you want to go against conventions and show them living happily with a family or give them a sense of humor that appeals to the viewer.

Props. Use props to externalize how the character is feeling.
Choose the clothing/hairstyling/makeup that each character needs. If it's a softer, kinder character who is much less concerned about how he or she looks than other aspects of life, use very little makeup in flesh-colored or very light tones. If your character is extremely outgoing and likes to stand out in the crowd, try bolder colors, especially on the lips our around the eyes. If you are going for a completely costume- y look, such as designing an alien or superhuman, your stylist should be extremely dramatic so that the effects will pick up well during filming.

Weather. This technique is called pathetic fallacy where you use the weather to externalize how a character is feeling. For example rain is used to connote sorrow, sunshine happiness and a storm to suggest anger or rage.

Method 4 of 4: other

1Empathy. It is essential that the viewer empathizes with the protagonist. You can achieve this by creating opposition, creating obstacles for the hero. Romance and showing the hero going out of his way to help someone are also very effective.

2Consider what you know. What is it that you know about your character? What do they like? Hate? What do they look like, smell like, what clothes do they wear, how do they style their hair, what does their voice sound like? The best way to organize these character traits is to write down a list of as many as you possibly can.

Is there someone you can cast who looks in general like the character you want them to portray? (Actor/actress personalities can be extremely different. Contrast is okay, but they should know how to execute the emotions you want them to easily.

Provide advance knowledge. Each actor should have the entire film script before you film, giving them time to both memorize and 'get into character'. Plus, as a director or casting artist, you should know things about characters that aren't necessarily incorporated in the film, such as their heritage, families, previous boyfriends/girlfriends and personal experiences. Sit down with your actors and tell them these things so that they can grasp the technique of embodying your character as well as they can.

While you're filming, be aware about how your cameras pick up facial expressions and the like. They should always be focusing on the most vital part of the shot, but it's very good development if an actor or actress is deep in emotion during the scene to always get a good look at his or her face. Remember that it's okay to cut the scene and tell your actors to change something or do something else, or that during editing you can always f look at camera angles and focus on different points in the shot.

Once you've filmed, ask a group of people to watch your work play out. Ask them what they know about the characters once it is over. The more detail the give you, the better. Also, ask them questions that can't be answered just by watching the film, such as "How many ex-boyfriends do you think she has?" Or "What do you think his mother was like?" To see if they understood underlying emotions in the script and acting.

When you write about this character describe them in terms of actions instead of emotions. For example describing someone washing there hands 50 times a day is more effective than just thinking they have OCD.

When creating a villain in your movie, be sure that anger isn't the only emotion he executes. If you want your evil-doer to strike fear in the hearts of the watchers, make him pitiless, vile, cruel, and vulgar. But remember that villains also have very different emotions too. They might be madly in love with someone and do anything for that person, showing a tender kindness around them. They might feel abandoned and lonely or have terrible memories about their childhood that, while the audience never knows about, can grasp the feeling of being unwanted. With an antagonist it is recommended that you make them 60% bad and 40% good.

Don't use stereotype. Instead use archetypes or give a stereotype an odd trait, for example a body builder could have a passion for classical music or like arranging flowers.
The spectator "must" be able to empathize with the protagonist.

Casting children is very difficult, so make sure they understand the plot and what's going on if the film is complicated. Especially when going for a horror effect of some kind, make sure that they are mature enough and skilled enough to act as they should, because while kids can be complicated, they can be amazing actors.


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