Here are three techniques actors can use to direct themselves on camera. They’re from my next book titled “How To Direct Actors Like A Pro & Look Like A Genius Doing It” to be released in January.
Directing Technique #1: Before you roll camera on an actor, tell the actor that for everything her or his character says, there are five other things the character could say but chooses not to say and to play those five other things. This technique will pull the camera and the audience past the conflict of the scene to the inner conflict of the character. Now the scene will be working on more than one level giving it more dimension.
Directing Technique #2: Before you roll camera on an actor, tell the actor that right before the scene starts and for the duration of the scene her or his character is having a premonition of what will happen when the scene is over (the character will fall in love or experience heartbreak or get revenge, etc). This will instantly make any performance cinematic and is the fastest way to create suspense on film.
Directing Technique #3: Before you roll camera on an actor, tell the actor to imagine that the camera is someone standing across the street observing her or his character during the scene, and that her or his character is aware of being observed but pretends not to notice. When human beings feel they’re being observed from a distance, they don’t act any less naturally but they do present the best version of themselves. This is the fastest way of making every moment the actor plays cinematic.