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The Main Differences between the Film and Theater Industries

Ways that working in film and on stage differ

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People who dream of becoming actors might have different ideas in mind. Some might imagine their faces on the silver screen, while others love the idea of being live on stage in front of an eager audience. Some people are simply born performers. Regardless of who is around, their natural tendency is to change roles and put on the dramatic at all times.

Many people probably wonder, though, just what are the main differences between the film and theater industries? Aspiring actors are probably curious to know just what all is involved in each option. And if you’re interested in learning more about the art itself, you might consider taking an entry-level job and trying your hand directly. You could look for something domestically in your home country, or you can find film production jobs abroad on Jooble. It could be a great way to get a taste of the industry and see if it is for you.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the things that distinguish the stage from the silver screen.


One of the major differences between film and theater is the type of preparation that is involved for the actors. While both types of acting can involve long hours and hard work, the manner of preparation is often very different.

When a stage actor is given a role, he or she spends a lot of time becoming familiar with it. There are often weeks or months of rehearsal time involved, and actors need to become familiar not only with their own individual roles, but with those of the other actors in a given production, and how well all of the characters understand each other. And, most critically, they get one shot when the curtain comes up as there is no recording of parts or scenes. You’re standing there in front of the audience, so you better be prepared for when the time comes.

Film, of course, is quite different. Although of course there is a lot of memorization involved in it, as well, actors don’t need to remember an entire production’s worth of lines for a single performance. In fact, many times film productions aren’t even shot in the chronological sequence of the film. If there are retrospective scenes dispersed throughout a film, for example, the producers might have all of the “early” scenes shot together (when actors put on a younger look, change their hair styles, etc), and the “later” ones at a different time.

Effects versus equipment

Anyone who has worked with stage equipment knows that it is far more than simply setting up a few spotlights. There are many different components involved, and it all has to be very carefully coordinated with each scene of a given play. The way spotlights and music are used play a major role in the way a play will be perceived by its audience.

Lights and sound are also important in film, of course, but in a very different way. Film producers can add many types of effects through technological tools after a scene has been shot. They can tweak subtle aspects of a scene’s appearance, for example, by shifting the coloring to make it seem darker for more dramatic scenes, or more colorful for funnier ones. And, of course, they can create the supernatural: if you want to depict a man floating in space, modern technology offers some pretty realistic means of doing so.


There are still living playwrights in the world, of course, and creative thought certainly continues to proliferate. However, by and large the plays that are performed in the world’s theaters are ones that people are familiar with. This presents a number of differences in terms of any given performance. First, the focus of the actors is not on creating roles for themselves, but in trying to live up to (or perhaps put a certain twist on) roles that the public is generally familiar with and has certain expectations about.

With film, however, the scripts used are largely new. Roles can even evolve throughout the course of production. Potential audiences might be given a sneak peak at what they are due to witness, but for the most part they go into films not knowing what to expect. Many people prefer this as they are usually in the market for something new. There are still some, though, that value tradition and love to see the way classic plays are depicted by different actors.


And, of course there’s the salary aspect. While there are a few select stage actors that really manage to make big names for themselves and become worth lots of money, for the most part stage acting is done for the love of the art. And there are many actors who only act occasionally, but who have other jobs to keep them afloat. Some even have such a great love for acting that they will do it for free!

Film actors aren’t necessarily filthy rich, of course – and we all know there is a huge range between the highest-paid actors in Hollywood and more average ones – but for the most part known film actors make much higher salaries than their stage counterparts do. There are a few that do both, which can be interesting. But this is comparatively rare.

Both arts are sacred

Both the stage and the silver screen have a lot to offer. And there are many people that are aficionados of both. But you might have preferences in terms of one form or another, and if you live in a major city you’re likely to have a range of options for stage productions, as well as films. Making it as an actor is a tough but potentially rewarding prospect. And there are a lot of potential career options for helping in the production process, both for stage and film. Check them out further if you think you might have an interest in this area.

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