Want to feel more confident on camera?
Take a look at our 6 easy to apply tips to boost your confidence when performing to camera.
Even the world’s top actors can feel under confident watching themselves back. As Zac Efron told Collider, “I tend to, especially the first time around, pick out every single flaw, or things I could have and should have done better… I tend to dwell on those things. I’m more of a cringer, at first.”
Many actors struggle with this. Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon even described it as “torture”, so it’s easy to understand why it can be daunting as a beginner, or as someone looking to improve, when it comes to performing to camera.
Performing to Camera
Whether you’re preparing for a film acting role, presenting to camera or even want to get more confident on camera for Instagram, these rehearsal tips will help you to feel more comfortable and confident on camera.
Forget (almost) everything you know about performing for the stage
Performing to camera is completely different to performing on stage, so push aside everything you might have learnt about projection.
On camera, whether it’s performing naturalistically, direct to camera, or a merge of the two styles, the way you use your voice, body and face is all very different to how you might perform on stage.
Try to speak naturally, at a normal volume and remember to breathe. Think of talking to the camera like talking to a friend, or having a friend in the background watching you. Just behave normally and naturally – try not to exaggerate or to “perform” at all – just be you.
Like performing on a stage, practice will help you to feel more confident on camera too. Rehearse as often as you can, it will help you to feel more comfortable and help to ease any nerves you have about performing to camera.
There are some things from stage performance that can be transferred, for more info see our blog on Useful Stage to Screen Acting Skills > >
Film Yourself from Different Angles
Film and TV, even YouTube videos, are often shot from different angles. Everybody looks different in the different angles, so getting familiar with your appearance in a few different shots, or from a few different angles, can be a great way to boost your confidence of camera.
Try filming yourself in a Wide Shot (showing your whole body), in a Close Up (showing just your face), and in a Mid Shot (your head to around your waist) and use a few different angles to shoot from.
Practise performing directly to camera in each of the different angles. Try also performing to one focal point, so you also shoot yourself in profile from the side.
Watch back so you can see the effect of filming and performing to each of the camera angles. This is a great practise tip to try if you’re interested in TV presenting, especially. TV presenters always have to know which camera they’re presenting to now, and next.
Want more help with angles? Take a look at our Quick Cut Camera Angles here > >
Practise Stillness & Movement
One of the precise skills needed for a screen actor is the ability to channel expression, character and performance into small areas of the face or body.
Practise performing to camera with a focus on standing very still. Imagine your feet rooted into place on the exact spot you’re standing in. Keep your body language to a minimum and instead try to express personality or character through just your face and your voice. (Again, try to keep everything natural, focus on presenting through small movements in just your eyes, or just your mouth.) The closer in the camera, the smaller your movements should be. For a Close Up shot, very subtle movements or changes in expression can be detected by an audience.
Only add in body movement when you’re comfortable with performing from a static “mark”. When you’re ready, try to give yourself specific ‘permitted’ marks (physical positions) you can move between and restrict yourself from moving too freely.
If you can grow comfortable with performing to camera whilst standing still, this will help you to appear a lot more confident on camera.
Rehearse talking to a Lens
Performing to camera can sometimes feel pressurised, even for people who are well practiced. There is an expectation to get things right, and once the camera is rolling, this intensifies even more.
Practise talking over and over into the camera lens. Allow yourself plenty of rehearsal time for each presentation or performance, so you’re sure of your speech or lines and can relax into it.
The more confident you can be with talking into the lens, the more confident you’ll appear on camera.
Rehearse in a Mirror
This one sounds obvious – and it is. Rehearsing in a mirror is great preparation for rehearsing or recording on camera.
But the reason we suggest it here is more to do with gaining an understanding about camera placement in relation to the body.
If you’re performing in an acting to camera role, it can be difficult to understand how best to stand and how to use your physicality to present well to the camera (this usually involves standing and posing at awkward angles in real life, that look great to the camera). Screen acting often requires physical positions that just aren’t natural to us in real life. For instance, you would rarely talk to a friend standing side by side.
Practising how to stand and how to angle the body using a mirror is the easiest way to get a sense of how to position yourself to optimise the view of the camera.
Rehearse with a mirror. Try to keep an eye on yourself in the mirror as you rehearse, this will force you into the best positions for the camera and help you feel to feel more confident on camera, whilst posing in some unnatural feeling shapes.
Watch Back Analytically
Try to watch back your footage from the activities above, or from other rehearsals or screen test footage.
It can feel uncomfortable to watch yourself back (remember, even the A List actors can feel this way), so try not to focus on your appearance. Focus on the all the ‘hows’ of your face, voice and body language… how do your shoulders look? Do you look tense? How does your tone of voice vary? What facial expressions are you using and how do they come across?
Watch and reflect analytically. What is working about your performance to camera, and what isn’t coming across. Try to practise and refine the small details.
Regularly practising this tip over time will really help to develop your skills as a screen actor.
Put on a Character
If you’re performing as yourself, but feel nervous about performing to camera, then a great tip for feeling confident on camera is to put on a character.
Even if that character is “you”, make it you with a new character trait, a new vocal intonation, or just a little something extra for the camera.
This gives you something to focus on whilst performing to camera, which along with giving you added confidence, can help to engage your audience too.
Want more help with feeling confident on camera?
We’ll be posting more as part of our Film Acting Series here, so keep an eye out.