Stage actors are conditioned to know that what they are doing is good through applause. On a film set, applause rarely occurs. Firstly, the only people watching what you’re doing are your fellow coworkers. They’re concerned with accomplishing their own jobs to fully acknowledge what the actor is doing. Secondly, if the crew were to applaud after every scene, that would be an absolute nightmare for the person recording sound, as every single take would be ruined. Thirdly, you’re doing the same scene over and over again, removing any kind of novelty factor for those around you. Because these reactions she had become accustomed to had to be removed, Anna Kendrick struggled to understand if she was doing a good job. Speaking with Vanity Fair, she recalled her frustration as a teenager looking for approval on her first film:
“The hard part of coming from theatre was that we’d finish a take, and I would be like ‘Was that good?’ It was very weird to not have that immediate feedback and to just look at like one guy, the director [Todd Graff], and be like, ‘So, was that good?’ And he’d be like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We can move on,’ and that’s all you get. So, like, adjusting to that was tricky. I think I was pretty in my head about how it was going.”
The one scene she felt good about was her performance of “The Ladies Who Lunch,” which she recalled the director describing as “lightning in a bottle.” Ultimately, understanding how you are performing on camera can really only come with experience and trusting your director knows what they are doing, and if it isn’t working, there’s always another take to try again. It depends on the actor if that’s fulfilling enough.