The Basics of Screen Acting

Today I was asked about camera angles and how an actor can help the director create the best shot for on screen acting. Screen acting is a relationship between the actor and the camera, it goes without saying that as an actor you should be as prepared as possible by knowing your lines and have a clear picture of the forthcoming scene but and as in screen acting there is always a but, you should be prepared for anything as the director may have a slightly different vision for the scene. The team at the Reel Scene have put together a small break down into screen acting.

The Basics of Screen Acting

Establishing Shot

Usually the first shot of a new scene, designed to show the audience where the action of the scene is taking place. In most cases a wide or extreme wide shot is used to establish the scenes location

Long Shot

A shorter version of the establishing shot, showing character from head to foot and possibly items surrounding

Medium Shot

The most common framing in movies, characters from the waist up usually


In the close-up shot only the character’s face is seen. It’s a great shot to create strong emotion or tension

Getting a Bit More Advanced

Ariel Shot

This is an exterior shot filmed from the air also knows as bird’s eye view. Often used to establish a location so the audience knows where the story is set. Always great for a dramatic ending. Very popular in the 1970’s

Arc Shot

The Arc shot is when the camera circulates a central figure, mostly a commonly a character but it can be any object

Cowboy Shot

So named because of its recurrent use in Western films. The character is shot from the thigh up

Deep Focus

Front to back range focus but simply put it is when the for ground and back ground are both in focus instead of one or the other grabbing the viewers eye.

It’s always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the different camera shots and angles, you can never know too much about screen acting. It shows professionalism and helps the director do his job. As an actor, you can adjust your acting according to the type of shot and block your movements within the frame.

Do you want to learn more about the actors relationship with the camera? The Reel Scene offer acting training and acting courses for screen acting if this interest you, then get in touch today.