THE ACTOR AND THE CAMERA: Denis Lawson
ISBN: 9 781848 423459
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 17 11 14
One of the most important new books on camera acting for the young actor
This is not an elegantly written book; Denis Lawson’s style is not eloquent nor graceful. But this is of no significance at all.
What Lawson has created in his matter-of-fact style is one of the most important ‘camera acting’ books on the market. Drama schools teach camera acting techniques – many of them giving this increasing importance in the curriculum. But what they can’t do is give the students experience – nobody can. The young actor can only gain experience for themselves; this can be a lengthy and possibly painful experience.
Lawson’s little book will help speed them along this path; what he offers in bite-size chunks, are hints, tips, and useful information; all these that he’s gained as a jobbing actor. For the young actor, newly in the market, these important morsels will help them work more efficiently, effectively and creatively. It will help them obtain a firmer footing – a great advantage.
The absolute practicality of every issue raised is impressive. Some of it may seem obvious – but as we all know, it’s often the obvious that gets missed.
For instance Lawson’s advice when shooting approaches – which often requires a 5.00 am rise. He advises that you start getting up earlier, say, a week in advance – rise at 6.00 am. In this way your rhythm adjusts, you arrive for your first day’s shoot and are fully awake and ready to go.
Simple advice, but incredibly useful.
Lawson’s advice is always this practical – even an encouragement to occasionally avoid jam roly-poly and custard dessert on location. And speaking of food, how to manage ‘eating and drinking scenes’ which often will be filmed several times over.
Many mysteries are demystified. As for instance the roles of 1st and 2nd Assistant Directors. More importantly Lawson advises on how to work with all the various personnel, to their, the programme or film, and of course you own advantage.
And possibly his most important piece of advice . . . When he started out he watched, watched those with more experience, rehearsals for stage, film, TV, watched performances from the wings and on set during filming. Very, very sound advice.
Any young actor entering the film or TV acting market omits this important book from their reading list at their peril.