Actors, be careful when using props. As a general rule, actors love to use props. It just makes things more fun and more interesting. Now in the theater, no problem. But in film and TV, you got to be a little more careful. So let’s say you’re doing a scene, you’re at a barbecue and you’re opposite your best friend. And you know, you’re doing the scene and realize oh, I can use this can as a prop. Well, that’d be fun. Great. The director yells action. And now you’re talking to your friend, blah, blah, blah. You’re drinking. You’re gesturing. You’re pointing. Yeah. Blah, blah, blah. And cut. Now like 10 minutes later, there’s a lighting change or whatever.

You come back. You’ve kind of forgotten a little about what you’ve done. The director yells action. And now you’re actually talking with the can you’re drinking. You’re sipping, you’re gesturing. You put it down. You’re pointing and now you’ve boned us because when we go into editing the scene, the two takes won’t match. From the first take on close closeup, you’re holding a can and in the second take, you’re not holding a can. And even if you cut to the wide shot, the two shot of you and your friend talking, sometimes you’re holding a can. Sometimes you’re not holding your can. And it just looks it’s bad. It’s a continuity mistake. You can’t use it. Now I can’t mix and match. I can’t use the beginning of the first take. I can’t use the second part of the second take because I like that performance better. And I want this performance.  I have to be narrowed to whatever take I want to go with. And that’s, that’s bad now.

There’s a person on set called the script supervisor. Their job is to kind of catch these mistakes, but they got a lot going on. And it’s your job as the actor, not to make these mistakes. So, you know, you can’t really blame the script supervisor, it’s on you.

I remember I was running a show a couple of years and I was in the editing room and the woman in the scene, she was using an umbrella as a prop and she was shaking it to get the water off. And then she struggled to open it and it popped open. And I wasn’t even thinking much about it. But then later in editing, we’re watching this and I noticed she had choreographed the whole thing. So on this line, she shakes it. On the next line, she struggles to open it. On the next line it pops open and it was like, it was like a dance. It was choreographed. And I remember looking to the editor and thinking and saying to him, boy, this woman’s next level because she really was mindful. She was careful about how using the prop was not, you know, uh, Willy nilly. She was, very professional about it. So if you’re going to use a prop be professional about it, and know when you’re going to use it, and when you’re not gonna use the. Keep it the same on each take. For more tips on acting and screenwriting, you can subscribe and follow me @MichaelJaminwriter.

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Michael Jamin, Showrunner, TV Writer, Author

Michael Jamin

For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.

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