When you are lining up a scene containing a number of principal actors, your actor may be stacked behind another actor.  As different angles are set up, in some angles your actor may be concealed from the camera by the actor in front your actor.

So when setting up the shot, should you hit your mark, or should you stray from your mark so that you’re seen by the camera?

The answer isn’t absolute.  The answer generally depends on the interests of the DP and camera crew in that particular take.  However, a decent guideline for managing such a conflict is to hit your mark first, and adjust as requested, keeping aware of where the lens is should you be asked to “find the lens.”

What Does It Mean to “Find the Lens”?

“Finding the lens” means to position yourself in the shot so that you can see the lens from where you are.  If you have a clear view of lens and you appear to be within its scope, then you probably have found the lens.

If you’re blocked by another actor or set piece from seeing the lens, likely you haven’t found the lens.  To find the lens, slowly adjust your position until you can see the lens and the camera crew says to stop–presumably because it can now see you.

The resulting blocking means you will probably be remarked, and your new position is a “cheat” from the prior position in order to make a better shot.

Do you always find the lens rather than take your mark when you’re stacked up?  Do you have any pointers for finding the lens?  If so, comment below!