Current Date:22 March, 2023
Megh Pant

First Principles : from Megh’s acting fellowship paper

by Megh Pant

This is an article from my research paper on fellowship at FTII. This article is called “First Principals” and it defines some of the philosophies of acting in the cinematic environment ..


These are things known to anyone associated with the medium, but still there is a need to drive it across again and again. These are guiding principals and common place wisdom by the gurus which I have read across many books and collected in the form of these 14 points , these are not mantras which if you learn by heart will make you better actors but are observation points for an actor to explore throughout and thoroughly during any shooting scenario in which he/she is actively involved, to understand the mechanics of the medium not only as performers trying to prove a point but as part of the whole (of the team you work with in the medium), to respect the other persons craft and to help him achieve excellence in their work, they in turn will help you excel in yours.
It is the philosophy of so called cine acting.

“It isn’t a question of who is right, but who is the director.” *
*Lee Strasberg (session 72, 6 march 1959)

Always said but never understood especially by actors, this is the first and the foremost principal commonly referred to in many books and by many teachers in different forums as
“Cinema is a director’s medium”.

Why do we keep saying this time and again, this is because we do not understand it and still many actors make desperate attempts to prove superiority by trying to carry it off on there own shoulders, but it seldom works. All this is because the director knows his film as a whole, he has worked more on his film than you have, and actors selfish creatures that they are only see it in part, as a slice of their own performance, counting lines and not understanding the scenario in which they are placed as in the script.. Trust is the name of the game; the only choice that an actor ever gets to make is choosing his/her director and script after that there is no way but total faith and commitment. Like the very famous lines by Alfred Hitchcock “My film is ready, I just need to shoot it”, it is the director who has seen the film before anyone else. He is the only audience you will get during the shoot, and you have to be on cue, exactly at the same place doing the same thing which the director has on his story board (let us assume for now that the director has a story board).
If you ever feel in the deepest of deep that a director is interfering in your work and not letting you act trust me at that very moment you are interfering more in his work than he is in yours.

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