What is a “Mark”?

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  • What is a “Mark”?

    Marks are particularly useful in filming. They are also a valuable aid for on-camera auditions.

    (by Tonya Tannenbaum)
    A “mark” is just as the name implies. It is a marker that lets the actor know where he or she is to position themselves during certain parts of a scene. Marks are also useful during on-camera auditions.

    Breaking Down “Marks”

    Marks are particularly useful in filming, since an actor needs to be in an exact place for the camera to have a proper frame. Imagine how terrible a scene would be if the actors were too close to the camera, too far away or way-off to the side of the camera when delivering important, dramatic lines. It would throw the scene completely off and distract the viewer from what the actor is saying.

    Marks ensure this does not happen.

  • When filming indoors, a mark is usually a piece of colorful gaffer tape placed on the floor. It is carefully positioned out of the camera’s view, so as not to be seen by the audience. When filming outdoors, a mark can be anything. It might be a piece of tape, a plastic bottle, a stick or a rock; anything that the viewer would not easily recognize as being unnatural to the scene.

    Marks at an Audition

    Marks are also a valuable aid for on-camera auditions. Marks are set up to ensure that an actor’s image is properly captured on camera while slating and during the audition. In an imaginary world where marks do not exist, actors would come into an audition room and stand anywhere. The camera would have to be adjusted with each audition, wasting valuable. And, if the camera is not adjusted, each actor’s audition would show up differently on camera.

    Marks ensure this does not happen at a live audition. Each actor comes into the audition and stands at a preset mark, so that only slight adjustments need to be made to the camera with each audition.

  • Learning the Industry Lingo

    There are several popular phrases used in the entertainment industry, when it comes to “marks”. Below are a few:

    “On your marks, please” or “Get on your marks” 
    A director might use the phrase, “On Your Marks”, when speaking to actors. This means it is time for actors to line up in their designated spots, in proper position for the camera, before filming begins.

    At an on-camera audition, a casting director or session director will usually ask actors to “get on your marks” before an audition. In this case, actors position themselves for the purpose of slating their names to the camera before beginning their auditions.

    “Hitting your mark” or “Landing on your mark”
    The phrase, “hitting your mark” or “landing on your mark”, means that the actor, when moving, must land at an exact spot or “mark” when delivering their lines. Not “hitting your mark” could throw filming off completely, including camera framing, lighting, editing and even the sound quality.

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________
    Related:
    What is “Slating”?
    What are “Sides”?
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

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