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Techniques & Styles of Kissing on the Screen for Actors

The on-screen kiss isn't as spontaneous as it looks.
Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The on-screen kiss is that special moment between two actors, coupled with the emotional swell of music in the background. The music helps create the kind of kiss only Hollywood could dream up. While the onscreen kiss is beloved for its spontaneity and passion, the kiss itself is quite technical. In fact, as an actor, the on-screen kiss is broken down into technique and style; depending upon the director's vision, it's not always as easy or as spontaneous as it looks.

Camera Technique

Place the camera at just the right angle to simulate an on-screen kiss. This technique is used when the camera is purposefully placed at such an angle that it can't actually capture the lips of the actors on screen. In fact, with this particular camera angle, the actors' lips don't even have to be touching. With just the right tilt of the actors' heads, the illusion of a passionate kiss is created.

Just the Lips Kiss

Keep tight-lipped. Many actors are not open to the idea of open-mouth kisses. Whether the scene calls for it or the actors have an aversion to swapping spit with strangers, the closed mouth kiss is a less obvious call to kissing action. However, with the right chemistry, cinematography and music, the closed-mouth kiss can look just as passionate as the next kiss.

The Open-Mouth Kiss

Pucker up for your close-up. The open-mouth kiss is very common in Hollywood today. It is that quintessential French kiss that makes romance in movie-making somewhat awkward for some on-screen actors. According to FilmSite.org, the first open-mouth, on-screen kiss in Hollywood was filmed in 1926 in the Clarence Brown drama, "Flesh and the Devil." Incidentally, it was also the first horizontally-positioned kiss.

Post-Production Kiss

Fade in the the drama. The beauty of cinema is that it can take the most ordinary kiss and turn it into the most passionate peck imaginable. With the help of post-production, on-screen kissing has never been more passionate. Imagine two on-screen lovers reuniting at a train station. The on-screen lovers are about to kiss when there is a dramatic swell of music rising, perhaps one of Puccini's famous arias. Suddenly the camera pulls into an extreme close-up of the pair, lips meeting as if there were no tomorrow. It's the build-up from what is added in post-production that takes such an on-screen kiss to the next level.

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