It’s funny how when we get on set we begin to explore choices for our characters only to realize that we begin to freak out at the last minute when the director calls, “and ACTION”. Well, you’re not alone. I have often explored the many character choices prior to beginning a scene and have discovered that my choices affect me differently every time. This means that one minute I am crying my eyes out over the feeling of being abandoned and the next minute I am clamoring at courage to not let it show or get me down. So which way do I go? What does the director want? Do I look authentic? Am I fulfilling the obligation of the material?! Arghh!
Plainly put the answer is yes and no and yes again. OK. I know that sounds crazy but my point is that experiencing real life in any given moment on stage, before an audience, a movie camera, a still camera, or a voice over studio is what we are after. There is no right or wrong. There only is what is at the moment. I have prepared character scenes with an obligation of the material fulfilled only to be driven in a completely different direction from the other character, the on set animals, or the environment. Let’s say I am in a church playing a priest and I am preforming a eulogy for a tragic death. Let’s also say my obligation is express mourning and be solemn in my delivery. All of a sudden, in the pews, a child starts laughing hysterically. Now what? Do I ignore the laughter of the child? Do I keep reading along as if I am in emotional pain? After years of practice I am going to share the right answer with you that really was quite simple to figure out from the very beginning. TRUST YOUR REAL INSTINCTS! That’s right. I said it. Go with the flow and MAKE IT YOUR OWN! It may be completely wrong for what was originally intended for the scene or the director’s concept of the moment but what if it isn’t? What if the director decides he likes the spontaneity of the moment when watching the dailies and puts it into the film? It could mean the difference between working forever of cutting your career short. Sound morbid? The fact is that acting is not as easy as it looks but when you ALLOW yourself to be yourself you begin to channel that energy into the scene naturally. Let’s dig deeper.
So many movies are created every day. Hundreds in fact. Tons of film careers end short. Some because of bad films and some because of poor choices on the actors part. One thing you cannot argue is the fact that the reality of the moment is what people buy into. Your audience wants to “feel” you pain. joy, sorrow, fear, love, and laughter. If you “fake” it they tune you out almost instantaneously. So why ignore the stimulus of the moment? Why fight the truth? If you were talking to your lover in your bed and a dog started barking or a baby started crying in the background would you ignore it? How would you react? Go with your gut instinct and ALLOW the moment to affect you from a real place. You also will start to bridge the gap between what is real and what is on the script. Don’t you deserve that after years of practice and study? Doesn’t your audience?
There are hundreds of trainers, classes, and schools that will help you practice your craft and explore an obligation, choice, and choice approach. In order to free yourself you must also free your instrument; your mind, body, voice, and soul. There are very few coaches out there that know how to do that. The best one I know is Eric Morris. You can audit his teaching free in Los Angeles. I am sure there are others and I have not explored them all but Eric is the one I have had the ultimate success with. http://www.ericmorris.com/homepage.html
Craft Jamboree in Lake Arrowhead – June 2010
In 1985 I began studying the craft with Eric. He has created and developed techniques that help the actor free their instrument so they can really get in touch with the viscera of their inner selves. To this day I prepare, use, and fulfill the obligations of the material and am able to adjust my choices instantly on set or on stage based on the principles I have learned from Eric’s teachings. He has written several books on the craft based on principals of “The Method”. http://www.ericmorris.com/books.html
In the end we all want to express our acting talent to the world. The real joy does not come from the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. It’s finding the connection between our real selves and expressing that through the written material. That is when I know I have won the battle between Acting and Being. Eric always said to me and I quote, “Desert you craft for a day, it will desert you for three.”
Continued success to you all.