Why Angelina Is One Of The Most Remarkable People

BY ANNETTE LANGE

Angelina Jolie is one of those actors who would have the ability, means and even the excuse to withdraw from any work or the public eye if she wanted. She could be satisfied with her success, after being deemed one of the most beautiful and rich women alive by the media, and having won the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

She is an extremely busy and recognised woman, and I have no idea how she manages to balance everything. But all the awards and successes don’t seem to be enough to make her slow down.

Ever since shooting Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in Cambodia and her exposure to the worldwide humanitarian crises, she hasn’t stopped being involved in humanitarian causes.

Hollywood actress and Oscar winner, Angelina Jolie, looks at an Afghan refugee making bricks at a bricks kiln in the outskirts of Islamabad

Upon receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, she shared in her speech:

“[My mother] was very clear that nothing would mean anything if I didn’t live a life of use to others.”

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Sure, Jolie didn’t always have the best reputation or set a great example. She’s always been considered a bit of a wild child. She’s been divorced three times, was accused of being a homewrecker, and the list goes on…

She doesn’t deny any of this, instead she recalls:

“I came into this business, young and worried about my own experiences and my own pain. And it was only when I began to travel and look and live beyond my home that I understand my responsibilities to others.”

She has gone above and beyond to take her mother’s advice seriously. She knows at the end of the day, what matters is not how good you’ve been in what you’ve done, but how you’ve used what you had to do good and love those around you.

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It’s such a common trap for one in the entertainment business to be self-absorbed and see a powerful performance, recognition or fame as the end goal.

When talking about her past, Jolie recalls being “absolutely self-destructive.” She continues, “I think a lot of young people in this business lose their way. You don’t know what is of value. You don’t know where you are. And you know something’s wrong, because it isn’t life as it actually is. It’s like living in some warped reality.”

She’s been exposed to the ‘real world’ with its cruelty and injustice, and she’s thrown herself right in to do something about it.

Her humanitarian efforts include the fight against the refugee crisis, conservation and community development, child immigration and education as well as human and women’s rights. Rather than just donating money and raising awareness about the crises, she’s determined to go there herself, visiting the respective people groups and taking time to hear their stories and giving them a voice.

I’m fascinated by her not stopping her involvement in film entirely. Now that she’s been exposed to more pressing matters, she could have seen the film industry as less important, but no.

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She is still doing what she loves. She acts, directs (shedding light on other actors), writes, and tells stories which challenge and encourage her audience, while being dedicated to her many humanitarian efforts.

Jolie isn’t perfect. She knows this, but she’s  trying to be the best she can be. Let’s cut her some slack, and use her as a source of inspiration instead of a target of criticism.

Are you living in a warped reality? Is it possible that you’re focused in achieving something that doesn’t matter at the end of the day? What legacy are you leaving behind? Is your life/art/craft of use to others?

Even though you probably won’t have the same means and resources as her, there’s always a way to invest in the lives of others and get a shift of perspective. Use Jolie’s willpower and drive as an inspiration.

 

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Barkhad Abdi – How to get awards without training

BY ANNETTE LANGE

In order to win the Bafta Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and get a part in popular movies, one must simply do the following:

 

  • Come from a difficult background in Somalia and flee to Yemen to escape sudden civil unrest and war
  • Win a Green Card Lottery and move to Minnesota at the age of 14
  • Learn English from TV shows and rap music
  • Become a limo driver, DJ and sell phones to make ends meet
  • Respond to a casting call for Captain Phillips and give the best performance out of 700 fellow auditioners to get the role of a Somali pirate
  • Co-star alongside Tom Hanks and give an excellent performance
  • Improvise iconic lines to add to the believability of the scene

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This, in a nutshell, is the story of Barkhad Abdi who made his major debut in Captain Phillips, without any acting training or experience prior to his role as ‘Abduwali Muse’. And, besides winning the Bafta Award, he got nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award as well.

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I love stories like his. People like Abdi are very refreshing. They haven’t been sheltered from the world, they had other things to worry about than staying in the loop with the latest trends. And when success comes to them as a surprise, it is an even more joyous achievement.

 

When asked about his response to co-starring with Tom Hanks, he recalled thinking, “I can’t believe I’m in a scene with the Forrest Gump guy.”

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I first noticed Abdi in Eye in the Sky and I was extremely fascinated by his performance. When I realized he hadn’t been trained professionally, I was even more impressed.

 

The little training he had in preparation for Captain Phillips happened in the month prior to filming. Abdi had to learn to swim, handle guns and operate a ship. He only met Tom Hanks on the first day of shooting, so I bet his nerves helped him to create such a convincing character.

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There was a lot of doubt whether he would actually be able to make a career out of it, or if it was just a one-time golden opportunity.

 

His salary for his first performance was only increased very little from the mandated Screen Actors Guild (SAG) minimum of $60,000 for a feature film. Even after his success, he was struggling financially.

 

He couldn’t even go back to work in his brother’s phone shop because everyone wanted to see him instead of buying phones. He seemed as if he was back to square one after reaching fame.

Perhaps his experience of reaching fame but finding it harder than expected could be compared to his experience of coming to the States:

 

“When I was leaving Yemen to come to America, things were tough. My dad had just been laid off, and it was a challenge. When I lived in Yemen, I thought America was a perfect place. Everything was bigger and better. I dreamed big. The American dream, you know? You have to work hard for your dream to come true.”
And he is working hard. I’m sure many directors have an eye on him after his performance in Eye in the Sky. And fortunately, his future looks promising as well. He has more acting projects lined up such as Hawaii 50, The Place that hits the Sun and the Sequel to Blade Runner. May the list go on and on!

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I am excited to see more of his acting. May he never loose that tenacious and creative spirit and continue to inspire fellow actors as he continues in his journey!

How to Inspire Your Parents to Support Your Acting

BY CHARIS JOY JACKSON

Want to inspire your parents that you’re making the right choice? A lot of people, including your parents, may look at your decision to become an actor as something that’s not valid. Not a real career. Maybe they see it as a fling of youthful dreams, or a phase that you’ll grow out of, but, are they right? Or do you see it as the absolute career of your life and somehow you’ve got to convince and inspire them it’s a real job?

 

What you have to realize, is you’ll always be the little kid playing dress up to your parents. They want the best for you, so when you present this risky and uncertain future, you must tread carefully. Otherwise, they may see a vision of you as an eight year old, living on the streets of L.A.

 

Before you jump into this career you need to decide if you’re ready for what it will cost you. Being able to have an intellectual and reasonable answer to this, will also help your parents support your decision and make it more likely that they’ll help you stay the course to reach your dream.

 

So what can you say to inspire them to see what you’re choosing is valid?

“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” – Pablo Picasso

 

The truth is, we need actors because they help us realize the truth.

 

When I teach acting, I like to show a TED Talk clip of Patsy Rodenburg, called “Why I Do Theatre.” I highly recommend you watch it and even show it to your parents to back up why acting is a vital job. It may even inspire you to see how much more you can give to those around you.

 

In the video, Patsy tells a story about a man who approached her. The man said he didn’t like theatre. Patsy encouraged him to explain why. He explained his experience of one of the actress’ (after finding out her young son has been killed) made a sound that he termed “embarrassing”.

 

He went on to say, that a year later, his own daughter was murdered and how upon learning this news found himself making that same agonized sound the actress had made the year before.

 

The man finished sharing with Patsy, by saying, “You know, she told me the truth, but I hadn’t grown up enough to know it.”

 

I get goosebumps every time I hear this story, because that actress opened something within that man; she gave him permission to grieve. She helped him realize the truth in his own life, so he would know how to act when tragedy struck.

 

If you’re pursuing acting because you’re after the fame, then read this section again. The true artist/actor, is someone who desires to tell the truth in order to inspire the viewer.

 

If this is something you want to do, then great! Add this to your answer when you tell your parents.

 

What parent wouldn’t want their kid to help make such an impact on someone’s life?

“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.” – George Bernard Shaw

A few years ago, my cat passed away. She’d been a part of my life for almost twenty years. She had seen me through those formative years and had been a steadfast companion through all the ups and downs of high school. If you’re not a cat fan, take comfort in knowing she acted more like a dog than a cat. (All the best cats are dogs in feline form)

Anyway, I was finding it very difficult to process her loss. Even though she’d been such a huge part of my life, it felt a bit silly to cry for a cat.

That’s when I watched We Bought A Zoo.

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There’s a scene when Matt Damon’s character, Benjamin Mee, is trying to get a sick tiger, Spar, to eat. Really, he knows Spar is old and the humane thing to do is to put him down, but Benjamin refuses and it’s a struggle to get Spar to take his medicine.

There’s a moment when he and his son are talking about courage as they sit in front of Spar’s inclosure. Benjamin has just been encouraged again to put Spar down, but he still doesn’t want to, because for him the subtext of the situation is the letting go of his wife who has passed away. Then his son turns to him and says. “You did your best dad, he [meaning Spar, but also meaning his mom] knows that.”

Up to this point, I’d been holding the tears at bay, but something about this scene and the acting by Matt Damon and Colin Ford finally gave me permission to mourn.

Yes, it’s similar to Patsy Rodenburg’s story, but where it differs is that it happened in the same moment of watching it, instead of a year later. It was because of two actors that I was finally able to grieve.

 

I’ve heard other tales of actors giving performances during a timely moment that allowed an entire audience to experience something real in their lives.
We need actors, because they help us understand the workings of our souls.

 

Ok, sure, not every acting gig you get is going to help someone, but if that’s our goal, to create something great, to go for the jobs that will make an impact in people’s lives, I think you’ll find your parents standing behind you and encouraging you to push for your dreams. After all, they were dreamers once too, maybe they still are…

 

So many people who aspire to be actors lose sight of what’s important. They become vain and shallow shadows of what they once were, all because they’re trying to look hotter and tanner. Please don’t turn into the orange version of yourself.

 

A good way to hold on to what’s important, is to remain the silly original you. It may give you the x-factor so many directors and producers are looking for, but it will also encourage your parents that this crazy industry won’t change you.

 

Find places where you can volunteer – help feed the homeless, become an animal fosterer, offer to weed your neighbor’s yard.

 

These kinds of acts of service help to keep us grounded. I’ve heard countless stories of actors who do even small things like offer to wash the plates after lunch, instead of hiding in their trailers. Not only does it help them, but it inspires the people around them.

 

How much more will it inspire your parents?

 

Final thoughts, while this video is aimed at filmmakers. I love what it says about filmmaking being a calling. I think it’s the same for the life of an actor. It has to be something you’re called to, something you’re insanely passionate about and have no other choice but to pursue it.

 

The more passion you show to your parents, the more they’ll want to stand with you, because like I’ve said, they want the best for us, and if that best is coming to life as an actor, then they’ll want to be a part of seeing that happen.

 

Because that’s true inspiration.

 

How Failure Improved My Acting And My Life

By Keaton J. Evans Sr.

Attempting to dodge failure sucks. Trust me, I’ve done it a million times in my life. I consider myself to be the expert on the subject.

 

That being said, I’ve learned how to overcome a fear of failure and now wish to share with you what I’ve discovered about failing. Hopefully, these lessons will help you learn to fail well. The key lies not in planning to fail, but allowing yourself to fail and learning from what you’ve done wrong.

 

As an actor and artist, learning to fail has been the biggest success I’ve had yet. This idea didn’t really make sense at first. The idea that the way to succeed is through accepting failure.

 

We’re all going to fail and make mistakes, that’s one of the ways we grow. The process of moving on from a fear of failure requires you to do a few things.

 

The worst thing you can do is what I did and try your hardest to not make mistakes. If you do that then you will never take the risks you’ll need to take if you are worried about failure.

 

K(no)w risks, k(no)w failure, k(no)w success

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Picture this: you’re about to audition for a role in a new Marvel film, say, Captain Ironman. Now you are thinking about auditioning, but then suddenly you start thinking about how terrible you’ll probably do and how you might flub the audition and how it would be better to not even audition, cause why waste your time doing something you don’t do well?

 

Probable situation, right?

 

I’ve been in a similar place as an actor. While acting in a scene I would continually think about how I wasn’t reaching the standard I held for myself. I became a perfectionist in every sense of the word. (Ask my parents, they’ll back me up on this one).

 

Earlier on, before I got more used to auditioning, I hesitated and stopped from going to auditions or even trying new things out of a fear of failing. There are so many opportunities I could’ve taken but didn’t. You’ll never fail if you don’t try, it’s true. But you also won’t ever succeed either.

 

Besides, the continual fear of failure stops you from having fun! Speaking of fun.

 

Seriously, don’t take everything so seriously

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The pressure that the fear of failure and perfectionism both create not only hindered me from taking opportunities that would’ve helped challenge and grow me as an artist, but it also kept me from one of the very reasons people create art: for the fun of it.

 

An example of this idea in my life came in the form of painting. I liked to paint, but after attempting it a few times, I became so discouraged by what I was making that I stopped. The paintings were never as good as I wanted them to be. The fun of painting had been strangled by my perfectionism.

 

But just a few weeks ago that all started to change.

 

I underwent this beautiful mind shift where I decided to paint and just have fun. I no longer painted with the intention of avoiding mistakes, that is, having to create something perfect. While I was brushing away at the paper, making a landscape of hills and trees I had a revelation: I was having so much fun just making something. It didn’t have to be perfect or even that good. I made mistakes, but instead of getting rid of the painting immediately, I would fix the mistake or even turn it into something I hadn’t originally intended it to be. In fact, the mistakes were the very things that made me the most proud.

 

This revelation was huge for me. It showed me fun is found in the unexpected twists and turns that happen when making something. Also when there isn’t the pressure for the piece to be perfect, I am surprised by what I am able to make.

 

The same could be said of any art. When there’s the pressure to be perfect it keeps us from enjoying the creative process. I felt this in my acting. I was starting to take it way too seriously. Then I remembered that acting is about playing. Let us never forget that.

 

Perfectionism hinders your creativity and imagination

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With the pressure to be perfect and to create perfect things, starting out becomes a real pain in the butt. When starting something, I had the idea in my mind that I needed to be instantly good at it. I would quickly become frustrated when I discovered I wasn’t.

 

This kept me from doing a lot of things as well. I didn’t allow myself to be a beginner, I had to be excellent right out of the gate.

 

When it came to creating things or acting, I was the same way. And this need to be excellent right off the bat hindered me from experimenting with different ideas and methods. I had to choose the right course the first time. I couldn’t afford to be wrong. Needless to say, what I created and how I acted was fairly flat, and it would never get any better because I didn’t allow myself to make mistakes and learn from them.

 

I fortunately learned that when we begin something, we won’t be good. I learned that it might take awhile, a long while to get good at whatever I was attempting. But that’s ok. The sooner you learn that the sooner you can let go of needing to be perfect and cling to the desire of getting better.

 

If I had held to perfectionism when I started out in acting I would’ve quit early on. Fortunately the passion I have for acting helped drive me forward and push past some of the frustration that comes from starting something new.

 

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See, letting go of perfectionism and the fear of failure isn’t the rejection of excellence. Quite the opposite, in fact. Learning to accept our failings and learning from them is how we achieve excellence in what we do.

 

That is what I learned, and it has changed how I have approached art and even every day. I see each day as an adventure, not as a day where I could mess up, or things could go wrong. So believe me when I say, learning to fail is one of the greatest lessons you can learn. Don’t try to always be dodging failure. Beat it by seeing it as a necessary step towards growth. You’ll never look back once you do.

 

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default. -J.K. Rowling

 

The Actor Every Director Wants

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Written by Charis Joy Jackson.

As an aspiring actor and part-time director, I’ve always been curious what other directors look for most in the actors they work with. Especially, when I see directors like David O. Russel working with the same cast in several films.

Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro all star in Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and Joy. While Mark Wahlberg stars in Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees and The Fighter. There are so many actors he continues to work with like Christian Bale, Lily Tomlin and Paul Herman.

What I wouldn’t give to pick David O. Russel’s brain!

I decided to ask a few director friends to see what they look for in the actors they work with.

Jason SolariThe Umbrella (2016) & The Out of the Woods Project (2017)

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Jason is one of my closest friends, so I’m a little biased about what an amazing director he is, BUT, I can say without bias that Jason has an excellent eye for finding amazing actors and getting the performance he wants.

When I asked him what he wants in an actor, this was his reply, “Comfortability. Someone who’s comfortable in their own skin and not trying to be someone else.”

This is an incredible key for every actor. Be comfortable in your own skin. The more you let your characters come from a real place within you, the more natural your character will be. Wise words from a wise guy.

Guillermo F. NavarroRelapse (2008) & Historias Invisibles (shooting next year)

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Guillermo is one of those directors, as an actress, I want to work for. He’s considerate and likes to play with a scene and explore what could happen. So of course, I had to ask him what he wants in an actor.

“I look for a solid acting formation. When casting, I don’t always have 100% defined what I want for that particular character. Furthermore, depending on who I cast for the opposing roles, it might change some aspects of that character. Therefore, I want to be sure that my actors will have the range to change the performance as needed.”

“Ability to take direction, ability to improv and ability to react. I look for a performance that looks and feels real. A good way to create a spontaneous action is to change an element in a particular scene (even a small one such as positioning, adding a pause or changing the speed of an action). A good actor will be able to take that small change and incorporate it to what he or she is already doing and use it to make that particular take fresh and real.

“To be a good team player, have a strong work ethic, and respect the rest of the cast and crew. Basically, to be a good professional and a good person.”

A key to being the actor every director wants is to be a good team player in all areas on set. To me, this is the key behind what Guillermo is saying.

If you are a good team player, you’ll have the ability to know when to improv and react to sudden changes in the story. If you’re a good team player, you’ll be able to listen well to your director and respect the rest of the cast and crew.

David L. CunninghamTo End All Wars & The Seeker: The Dark is Rising

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When I was in high school, I had the privilege of observing David in action on his first feature film, Beyond Paradise. He’s a phenomenal creative and definitely builds the creative community around him. He’s currently in production for his newest feature, Jo, the Medicine Runner, but took the time out of his incredibly busy schedule to answer my question.

“Authentic. Honest. Appropriate to the role, of course. Ideally, someone that’s also going to be a partner with you. Someone that brings choices to the table, but [is] willing to be directed.”

David L. Cunningham has worked with several amazing actors – Jim Caviezel and Keifer Sutherland, to name a couple – so when he says he’s looking for authentic, honest actors, he knows what he’s talking about.

So, can you be authentic and honest? Well, I asked my good friend Google to define these two words for me in the hopes it would give me an idea of how to be this kind of actor…

  • Authentic: not a copy of, but the genuine article.
  • Honest: truthful and sincere

A key to being the actor every director wants is to truly be yourself.

The genuine article.

Acting has been defined as living truthfully under imaginary circumstances. You can take this a step further. Going back to what David said, “Someone that brings choices to the table, but willing to be directed.

If you’re living your life truthfully and authentically, then you’ll have done your homework on the character and be able to bring in genuine ideas and be able to hold them with an open hand.

I hope this has been helpful to you, my fellow actors. It’s been a great reminder for me to live as authentic and honest as possible; to be a team player and to keep it real and relaxed.

After all, our whole job as actors is to play! So have fun.

If you want more of this kind of article, sound off in the comments below and we’ll see what we can do.

DIY – WORK YOUR ACTING MUSCLES

written by Annette Lange

 

The following acting games do not require extensive, if any, preparation or props.  So, whether you want to grow in focus, spontaneity, improve your improvisation skills or just to think of acting exercises on the spot, here is a number of acting games and exercises that will not only be helpful, but also make your stomach hurt from laughing.

 

What if?

 

This is a great game to warm up and ‘get into the flow’ for rehearsal. It sparks the creativity and requires your imagination to live out fictional life. It makes you more aware of your body, how it works, how you express your mood physically etc. This can be done to music, but is not essential.

 

Here’s how:

 

Have the actors walk around the room. The group leader/narrator will call out different “what if’s” which the actors will have to respond to.

E.g. Narrator: “You are walking as if you’re late for a meeting.”

“Walk as if you have just heard bad news.”

“You are walking as if your arms are numb.”

What if you had no bones, and your body was made of Jelly.”

“Walk as if you are discovering your legs for the first time.”

“You are moving as if you’re flying.”

 

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Same scene – Different circumstances

 

One can definitely see how different circumstances alter a performance drastically through this exercise. This exercise will require spontaneity, good reaction and creativity.

 

Here’s how:

The title says it all. Actors are given either a scene they have to act out. The same scene will be acted out several different times, but every time they are given a different set of circumstances.

 

E.g. Scene: A newly-wed couple is going shopping for their new apartment.

First time: Performed with ‘normal’ circumstances.

Second time: The husband desperately needs to go to the bathroom.

Third time: The husband and wife are spies who think they are being followed.

 

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This exercise is great for practicing focus and exercise.

 

Here’s how:

This is to be done to (preferably slow) music. Have two actors face each other. They are to keep eye contact at all times. One actor will start with movements which their partner will have to copy as if they were looking at a mirror.

 

The aim is for the movement to look as smooth as possible in accordance with the music. After a while, the other actor needs to initiate the movements without verbally communicating it. The audience should not be able to tell who the leader is at the moment due to the smooth transition. The intense eye contact might be uncomfortable for some towards the beginning and might trigger some giggles, but that will pass.

 

E.g. Two actors stand across from each other and they stare into each other’s eyes. The first actor slowly reaches out his right hand, while the other actor reaches out his left hand in the same manner. After a while, the second actor will slowly move to tap his head and the first actor will follow at the same time.

 

If you’re really good, you won’t even know which one of you is leading because you’re so in sync. Make me proud!

 

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Freeze – A classic

 

Freeze is an improvisation game that can easily be used as an ice-breaker or a time-filler, and of course, it is a lot of fun.

 

Here’s how:

Two actors are given a scenario to which they start acting. After they have established their story and played a while, any participant can shout “Freeze!” at any given time. The actors will have to freeze in their positions, and the third actor will swap places with one of the two, take on exactly the same position the previous actor froze in and introduce a completely new scenario through his actions. The second actor has to go along with it and react until the next “Freeze!” is called out.

 

Variations:

If only the same few people seem to initiate, the leader can call out “Freeze!” and choose the next actor who has to jump in. In this way, everyone gets involved, and the shy/less confident actors will have to step out of their comfort zone.

 

Objectives – Exercise

 

One thing you learn as actors is you have to know what your character is going for at every moment: what his needs, wants and goals are, namely – his/her objectives.

 

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This requires you to prepare a list with objectives to choose from.

 

Actors are given a scenario and they will have to start improvising. Throughout the performance, the leader will give each of the actors different objectives at different points in time. These are written on pieces of paper so the other actor in the scene will not know the objective of their partner and in order for the audience to know what objectives they were given.

 

The actors will have to incorporate the objectives into their scene subtly so that the flow of the scene will not stop. The objectives should never just be read out.

 

E.g. Scenario: Two tourists meet in a foreign country and decide to go to lunch together.

 

One actor will be given “Convince him/her they’re your long lost sibling” as the objective, while the other actor might get “Encourage them to stop smoking” as their objective.

 

As the scene goes on, more objectives will be introduced. It is especially funny when the scene partners have competing objectives.

 

I hope these few games and exercises helped you! They are also not confined to acting, but can generally be a good source of fun when you get together in a group.

 

 

5 STEPS TO CAPTIVATE AN AUDIENCE

written by Annette Lange

 

Movies have the ability to draw me into an imaginary world that makes me want to fight for the characters in it. And it’s especially impressive, when actors are able to create such a believable performance, I don’t even notice acting, but I’m more concerned about the story than anything else.

However, actors also have the ability to throw people off just as fast as they are able to spark their interest and have the audience on the edge of their seats.

Here are some tips for the actors out there that want to “live truthfully under imaginary circumstances” – as good old Sanford Meisner would say.

 

  1. What is the context of the story?

 

The first thing you should be concerned about is the story you’re telling through your acting. Know that it’s not about you. The importance should be the story, not you as the actor.

Before practising any scene, make sure you know what the purpose and theme of the story is. What role does your character play in the bigger picture? What is their relation to the other characters?

Know the context before you learn the lines. This will also help you in memorizing your lines easier.

So, do me a favor and know the context of the story more than Squidward here.

 

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  1. Your lines – Know ‘em and throw ‘em

 

What immediately pulls me out of the story is when actors place emphasis on every single word of their lines.

When you really observe how people talk, you will notice they increase and decrease their volume, speed and intensity of their words. Sometimes they mumble, sometimes they emphasize. None of us really put emphasis on EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. AND. SAY. IT. WITH. THE. SAME. INTENSITY.

Remember that your character doesn’t have a script in the story. He/she is always reacting to something.

Know your lines well and respect the screenwriters who put the work into it, but make sure you know first and foremost know why you’re saying them in the bigger picture of the story.

 

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Remember the subtext. There is a huge difference between what is being said and what the actor is actually saying.  Play around with speed, volume, emphasis etc. Choose which words to put emphasis on, otherwise the audience will be distracted by your performance or bored. You don’t want them to look like Spongebob.

 

  1. Backstory – Why is the character the way he/she is?

 

This is one of the most exciting parts of acting. In a script, you will only get so much information about the character. So it’s up to you to create a compelling backstory that serves the story. I find that I can understand certain people so much better once I meet their parents or siblings and can imagine why they behave or react  the way they do in certain situations.

 

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If you have trouble identifying with your character’s choices, invent situations and relationships in their past that would have led them to the place they are at in that point of time. This will shift your focus from your performance to the thoughts your character would have at every moment in the scenes.

Remember, the camera catches the tiniest expressions on the face of the actor. The audience can tell the difference when the actor is simply delivering the lines or when the actor is really involved in the story.

 

  1. What does your character want?

 

Our behavior and our relationship with people is determined by what we want or what we need. And this applies to your character as well.

Knowing the objectives of your character is an extremely helpful tool that creates tension in the scene and therefore makes it compelling to watch. A lot of humor and drama results from different characters having competing objectives.

When you tackle your script, try to break it down and figure out what your character wants in the scene and how his objectives change as the story progresses. When you perform your scene, go after your objectives at all times – like Jelly fish…

 

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  1. Don’t predetermine your character’s emotions!

 

A big trap actors can fall into is forcing emotions and planning out what our character should feel.

I highly doubt you wake up in the mornings and decide you’re going to cry when you meet Jack, and are going to be annoyed at the sight of Suzan.

Never map out the emotions your character should or is going to feel. Emotions always come as a response or reaction of what’s happening.

It is far more gripping to watch an actor try to fight tears, rather than watching him/he explicitly trying to cry.

 

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So, as fellow actors, I urge you not to simply act out a scene the way you want it to look, but to focus on the story you’re telling – as believable as possible. Allow yourself to be a human – in life and in front the camera – it’s a vulnerable process, and I applaud you for that.

Make it count. Let go of your ego. Tell stories worth telling.