A Guide to Eyeliners

Acting is theoretically a breeze. As with any abstract art, the layman often looks at it and says, “I could do that!” Eyeliner is one of the most important, small, vital, and overlooked aspects of acting that will distinguish the pros from the amateurs. What are your eyes looking at? Is it the best place to look? Can you also manipulate your camera’s lens to convey an authentic emotional state? Can you make a whole world by knowing the camera’s location and what it is seeing? You can, ladies and gentlemen! It all comes down to your eyeliners…

What exactly are eyeliners?

An eyeliner refers to a fixed (or moving) point that you look at when you self-tape, audition, or shoot. Although eyeliner can be approached differently in theatre, the basic principles remain the same. This article will be more about screen acting since it requires a particular approach. You can take these ideas and use them in your next theatrical performance. The eyeliners are where your eyes focus. You will most likely be collaborating with someone or more people on screen. You may need to physically place multiple characters in the same space as the reader. This will give the audience an indication of who is speaking and when.

The real challenge is when you get on set.

Now, in reality. Greta sits in a soundproof studio with a fan blowing 1000 knots and staring at the black duct-taped “X” on the wall. You can see her emotions as the camera enters. Could you take a good look at her eyes? She not only holds her eyeliner and allows her imagination to influence her emotions, but she barely blinks throughout the entire shot. We see her as she watches her homeland vanish and feels the effects. We feel the genuine loss she feels, too. She’s just standing on a fake boat, watching an X. But the combination of image work and eyeliner creates an incredibly powerful moment.

Eyeliners for Auditions & Self-Tapes

Now we get to the crunch. Actors often pick the wrong eyeliner for auditions. This is a common problem. The rule is that we must see your eyes, just like Greta does. All of them must be visible at all times. The first step to a successful audition is to get your eyes as close as possible to the camera.

But don’t look directly down at the lens!

This is something I can’t emphasize enough.

Never look directly down at the lens.

Never look directly down at the lens.

Please.

Why?

It is terrifying! It is scary! If the character is scary, it breaks the illusion created by the scene. The idea of Hannibal Lecter or another such character staring down at us is terrifying.

Return to auditioning…

In your next audition, get your reader close to the camera. (Just one more time with feeling). We’re done! Now that you have your reader on the one side and you feel confident about it, let’s bring in our imaginations and thoughts. Place them all on the opposite side of the reader.

 

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