I'm not so sure it hasn't crossed someone's mind at one time or another. The next time you're hanging out with Meryl Streep, ask her.
Me, too. I really grew up in ballet from the time I was 4 years old which I honestly think informs my acting as much as anything, but my actor training that I started when I was 16 was 100% theatre based and I was in 15 plays. I have a resolution to do one play a year. I don't know whether I will be able to fulfill it or not, but I think it's very important even though a lot of actors around here like to make fun of it and call it "Thee-uh-taaaah." They would get their asses kicked for that in New York.
I was just talking about the technical side of working on-camera when I said that. Some older screen actors come from theatre backgrounds. Others don't.
I think Spydog said in another thread that he is stage trained, too. Transitioning to the camera from there can be a steep learning curve, but I think it's a lot easier than the other way around. There is a reason some of these A List types with no theatre experience so often fall flat on their faces when they get themselves stunt cast on Broadway.
The "180 rule" is a foundational principle of film making. While you may not be aware of it, I promise it has been referenced around you on set. You're right, it's not our responsibility to make sure the shot is set up properly, but I have saved the day a couple times on indie sets (where there's usually crazy long hours that can mess with even the best pro's head) by noticing that I was placed on the wrong side of the camera in an OTS shot. Not my job, but it sure as hell impressed a few DPs who thanked me later by referring me to directors on later projects.
I've also done complicated steadicam shots with dozens of moving parts where it was essential to be "camera aware" AND in the moment. I am of the camp that it does not make you less of an artist to take interest in the technical aspect, just don't let it interfere with your performance. Abruptly dismissing someone because they're curious isn't necessary. It may not be a part of your work, but some like to include it.
However in terms of eyeline in a CU, your director or DP will give it to you. (The 180 rule will come into play to determine which side of the camera.) Outside of that, know who you're talking to -- whether or not the person is actually there -- get connected, and forget about the rest.
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