Check Your Heart: How Do You Celebrate The Victory Of Others?

BY ANNETTE LANGE

Being an actor simultaneously requires extreme vulnerability and an extremely thick skin. When auditioning for roles, you’re the product you’re promoting, and so it’s easy to take rejection personally and evaluate yourself against the other candidates.

This in turn, will make room for discouragement and comparison and ultimately transform into resentment and bitterness – not a place you want to get into, for your own sake and for the sake of others.

Because of this, it is important you continually check your heart and motives. A good way to check if you’re heading in the right direction is asking yourself the question:

Am I able to genuinely celebrate other people’s (or, in this case, actors’) successes?

We all know envy is not a positive virtue. Once it takes hold of you, it spreads like cancer. If you need a visual reminder, watch Amadeus and look at the effect envy has on Antonio Salieri’s character.

I can’t promise you its absence will be a guarantee for a successful acting career, but what I can promise is it’s necessary for the sake of your own heart and creative life.

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

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At the end of the day, you’re responsible for your own heart and actions. And as an actor you don’t want to numb your sensitivity through subtle jealousy.

I find the art of acting and creative storytelling so beautiful, delicate and precious. If done well, actors can change and heal the hearts of their audiences through their own vulnerability and honesty. They can explore, challenge and reform humanity like no other artform.

What I find inspiring about films and plays, is the teamwork it requires to realize a vision. The entertainment industry is all about teamwork and that is, in my opinion, what life is all about. Realizing dreams together through community, cooperation and relationship with one another.

This requires humility and choosing to love one another even if we don’t feel like it, celebrating one another’s successes and being united in an attempt to make this often cruel world a bit better.

I’d encourage you to be on guard against feelings of resentment and jealousy, even if they seem subtle and take action on your behalf to combat it with love and turning it into a motivation to pursue more excellence in your own creative craft.

 

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Live Presently, You Must

Written by Keaton Evans.

Ask the impossible, Yoda does not. Related directly to acting, this is. How it is I will, er, can show you… ah, forget it.

If you are as much of a Star Wars fan as I am, which I guarantee you’re not, you might remember the scenes from The Empire Strikes Back where Yoda is training the ever-growing Luke about the mysterious ways of The Force.

I think he has some key insight into what it’s like to live in the moment and how to concentrate. The Dagobah training scenes are rich with all sorts of sagely small green humanoid wisdom. But here I am going to translate some of the key ideas and show you how living in the moment will greatly reward you as an actor and how you can even do this on a busy set.

Listed below are some techniques I like to use to help me live in the present. They are quick and easy and shouldn’t take you any longer than ten minutes.

  1. A quiet place, you must find

Did you notice in Episode V how Yoda greeted all his neighbors on his daily walk to the local Dagobah supermarket before he met Luke? No? Neither do I. In fact we never see another sentient soul on the entire planet besides our little green friend.

That’s because Yoda (R.I.P.) understood it’s best to be alone when you do any kind of training. Including the training of living in the present moment. Take a page from Yoda’s book. Find a place on set or location, where you are about to film, that is quiet and away from the distraction.

If you’re up on the acting ladder you’ll have a trailer. Find that quiet place. The green room is a great place. The honeywagon is great too, if you have nowhere else.

  1. Your body, stretched it must be

Yoda was also quite the advocate for stretching. Now, while we never see him actually stretch, except for his hand when he lifts Luke’s freaking X-wing out of the mud. Now the stretching we see Luke do is not quite the same as what I have done, although the idea remains the same.

In that quiet place, your Dagobah, as I’ve now decided to call it, the first thing to do is to stretch. If you’re not wearing standard jedi garb then that’s ok. As long as the clothes are not too restricting, you can do the basic stretching techniques.

Try touching your toes, reaching for the sky, or my personal favourite: swinging your arms in giant loops.

Not only is stretching great for getting you relaxed and in the right mindset, but according to healthguidance.org, it also helps warm you up, increases your range of motion, and improves your posture. Stretching has a multitude of benefits. As you can see, and now so can Luke, Yoda knew what he was talking about.

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Do or do not. There is no try.

  1. For success, close your eyes and breathe deeply, you should

Did you notice in the movie how when Yoda focuses The Force he closes his eyes? Well the same goes for training yourself to live in the present moment. I (almost) guarantee that when Yoda was reaching out with The Force he was breathing deeply. If you zoom in on him in the scene where he lifts Luke’s X-Wing you can just see Yoda’s chest (Oz’ hand) move up and down in the same pattern a human would if they were breathing deeply. My point? Yoda was onto something… that genius!

After stretching, pull a concentrated Yoda. Pretend you are lifting something with The Force while your eyes are closed and your breathing is deep. This is great for calming your mind and getting the distractions like the threat of the empire or your friends’ death in Cloud City off your ol’ noodle.

But seriously, according to Harvard Medical School, deep breathing can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure. It’s great for helping you to live in the present moment.

Here’s a link to the article about deep breathing which goes more in-depth:  https://hms.harvard.edu/

  1. All around you, sounds are. On sounds, focus

Yoda talks about how The Force is all around us. It’s in the rocks, the trees, that possum you saw the other night, even in your very own computation device.

I believe that sounds are all around you. And I know from trying that while you are breathing deeply you focus on listening it makes all the difference in the world in pulling you into the present. Simply listen. Hear the birds, the cars, the talking, white noise, cats meowing, dogs barking. Then after you simply sit and listen to all the sounds, even if they are faint, try listening to only one sound. This will help your concentration. As you have to concentrate on one sound you will learn to concentrate on only one thing, that is your script later when you are waiting for the next shot.

  1. Now the time to focus on your role, it is

The last step in your jedi training, er, present-moment training, is to focus on the most important part of your job: your role. As you have used the instructions of the universe’s most trusted whatever-species-Yoda-is, you are ready to live in the moment and focus not on the distractions around you, but on your character.

In the moments of deep breathing with your eyes still closed, think of the background of your character. Think of their history and relationships. Think about your character’s overall objective and their objective in the upcoming scene. In this way you will be ready to live in the present moment by focusing on your role and it will be that much easier to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances.

The distractions of everything else will fall into the background. You will be able to concentrate on that which is most important.

Through these steps you have found your Dagobah, you’ve stretched your body, you’ve deeply breathed, you’ve listened, and you’ve focused on your character. You journey towards the darkside WON’T be complete now! Hurrah! Suck it Palpatine!

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Pictured: a wrinkled sap who doesn’t live in the present.

Hopefully these steps will help you to live in the present moment and prepare you for the scene you are about to take part in. Well, as they say in Yoda’s swamp town: “bye”!

Hello Ladies!!

Last time we met the most recent male additions to our staff team here at the Initiative Production Company, and this time we get to meet the female additions to our team.

 

Hailing from all over the world Annette Lange (South Africa), Connor Sassmannshausen (USA), and Stephanie Kirouac (Canada), they all have brought their passion for excellence in everything they do to our office everyday and inspired us with their creativity.

 

Alrighty let’s spend some time getting to to our most recent female additions to our staff team!!

 

“Hello!!! Let’s go around and introduce yourselves. Also share something you like to do in your free time.

 

Connor Sassmannshausen: Hello! I’m Connor Sassmannshausen from Indiana in the USA and in my free time I love to write!

 

Annette Lange: Hello! I am Annette Lange from South Africa and in my free time I like to imitate accents and learn new languages.

 

Stephanie Kirouac: Hello! My name is Stephanie Kirouac. I am from Quebec, Canada and in my free time I like to take walks!

 

Fantastic!! I thought we would start with some ice breaker, “get to know you” type questions. Ready?

 

Here we go!

 

What is the first thought you think of each day?

 

SK: I’m Tired!

 

CS: No!!! Sleep come back to me!!!!

 

AL: Am I going to drink tea before or after breakfast?

 

What would you do if you had 1 million dollars?

 

SK: I would keep some money so I could travel, and then I would buy a really nice house somewhere. Like a vacation home in the Swiss Alps or something. Like a get away place. And then I would take my family on a trip, because we never go on trips together.

 

CS: I would travel, and visit as many countries as I could.
AL: I would go to Norway with my mom, because she has always wanted to go there. I would finally have money to all the dance classes I have wanted to. Then, I would travel to Colombia and Russia and to the rest of the world.

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(Annette Lange)

“I love that we are all friends and pursuing excellence in filmmaking and acting.”-Annette Lange

 

What sport would you most want to be a part of, in the Olympics?

 

SK: Gymnastics!!! I have wanted to be a gymnast since I was born. I studied for a year, but it just got to be too time consuming.

 

AL: I would do synchronised swimming or diving.

 

CS: I would be security, because I don’t have the desire or dedication to give my life to any one sport. But if you’re security, you can just live vicariously through it all.

 

How would you describe one another in 3 words/phrases?

 

CS: I would describe myself as creative, protective, and creative again! I would describe Annette as compassionate, dedicated, and understanding.  Steph is passionate, determined, you know where you are going.

 

AL: I would describe Connor as organised and dedicated to her writing (which I admire) passionate about film, and smart.  I would describe myself as positive, caring and responsible. I admire Steph’s honesty, the way she initiate things, and she has a really big heart.

 

SK: I would describe Connor as passionate about whatever she does, independent, and a lover of writing. Annette has a big heart for people, she is dedicated in what she does in like a secretive way where you never know or see what she does, and she always puts others before herself.  I would say I’m passionate for what I’m passionate about and if I’m not passionate about something I don’t really care, I am considerate of those around me, and I think that I’m a good friend.

 

What is your favourite part about working in The Initiative?

 

SK:To be able to create and push myself to do more and go out of my comfort zone.

 

AL: I love being here. I love that we are all friends and pursuing excellence in filmmaking and acting. I love the fact that I am here without any previous qualification. I love that I am trusted with things that I have no experience in.

 

CS:I love working with people who are passionate what I’m passionate about. Everyone here wants to make movies, and that is what I want to do.

 

What part of filmmaking are you most focused on right now?

 

SK: Right now, I’m focusing on editing and how to get good shots quickly with a camera. Which I hope will help me make good documentaries.

 

AL: What I’m working on right now in my acting is developing a backstory of a character. I have also been getting interested in story and writing.

 

CS: I love writing and creating characters. I want to direct at some point, and so I’ve been figuring out how to communicate my ideas better to others.

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(Connor Sassmannshausen)

 

What is the thing you’re most excited about for your time here in the initiative?

 

CS: Working alongside other writers and seeing the editing process of The Out of the Woods Project.

 

AL: I am excited to get more opportunities to act and be a part of a team of actors who will push each other to excellence.

 

SK: I am really want to use my time to advance my skills and start new projects. I don’t really know what that is going to look like but I’m excited!

 

What do you want to leave The Initiative with?

 

SK:I want to leave with the knowledge to be a filmmaker centred around good storytelling, and using the camera well.

 

AL: I want to walk away with confidence in who I am and in my acting. I’m also excited to walk away with more people skills.

 

CS: I’m sort of just along for the ride. Because I originally planned to just come out for the 3 months to film The Out of the Woods Project and then decided to stay for 2 years. So we shall see!

 

Well that does it! Lovely to get to know you all better and I hope you have a great rest of your day!!”

 

So there you have it! Hopefully now you have a better understand of our team here at the Initiative Production Company. I hold you follow along as all of us here at The Initiative continue to create and explore the wonderful world of independent filmmaking.

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(Stephanie Kirouac)

Meet Us

Recently We had 6 people, 3 Men and 3 women from all around the world join our team here at the Initiative Production Company so I, Matthew Schmidt, being an inquisitive  people person, thought I would take it upon myself to interview them so you all could get to know them a bit better.

 

All of our new staff are a passionate, dedicated and creative bunch, who strive to give the world excellence in film.

 

I thought for this week I would start with the 3 men of the group.

 

They are as follows:

 

Connor Campbell is a filmmaker from Ontario, Canada. He loves all things sci-fi and is passionate about technology.

 

Keaton Evans is an Actor from Anchorage, Alaska. He has a passion for all forms of storytelling and the universe.

 

Micah McWhorter is a Filmmaker from Flowery Branch, Georgia. He is full positive energy and has a passion of and for creating beautiful cinematography.

 

Without further ado here is our interview!!

 

Matt: Hey Guys! How are you doing today?

 

All: Excellent! Fantastic! Thanks for having us on the show!!

 

Connor Campbell: My name is Connor Campbell and I am from Canada!!

 

Micah McWhorter: My name is Micah and I’m from from Flowery Branch, Georgia!

 

Keaton Evans: Thanks again for having us on the show here! My name is Keaton and I’m from Anchorage, Alaska!

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Picture of Keaton Evans

“When my time is done I would like to have full confidence in myself to create a project run with it and have it be something people will watch and enjoy.”-Micah McWhorter

 

M: What is the first thought you think of each day?

 

MMW: “How long can I lie here in bed until I have to pee?”

 

CC: Mine is similar, but it’s “how long can I lie here before having to get up and start the day?”

 

KE: “Good God, I’m glad I’m alive!”

 

M: What would you do if you had 1 million dollars?

 

CC: I would live in a penthouse probably in Manhattan.

 

MMW: I would buy a cabin in the woods, on a mountain somewhere, and invest the rest in gold or the stock market or both.

 

KE: I would buy a piggy bank worth $999,999 dollars and put one dollar into it!

 

M: How would you describe one another and yourself?

 

CC: I would describe myself as analytical, Keaton is logical, Micah is an adventurer.

 

MMW: Connor is decisive, Keaton yearns for knowledge, I am an adaptable dreamer.

 

KE: Connor is particular, I am metaphysical, Micah always wants to make films.

 

M: What sport would you most want to participate in the Olympics?

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Picture of Connor Campbell

CC: Soccer, volleyball indoor, or beach.

 

MW: I got 3. I like wrestling, so wrestling would be my number 1, then the high dive and gymnastics would follow.

 

KE: First fencing, followed by long distance running, and water polo.

 

M: What is your favourite part about working in and being a part of The Initiative?

 

CC:  I like that it isn’t just about where the top people run everything, but that we are all a part of the vision.

 

MMW: Our ideas are valued and heard; that we can pitch an idea, create it, and help each other with their ideas.

 

KE: That we are able to get our ideas out into the world and have people that will support us in that.

 

M: What part of filmmaking are you most focused on right now and interested in in the future?

 

CC: I really want to explore every aspect of storytelling, starting with writing and finding my own style; specifically in regards to directing and cinematography.

 

MW: For right now, I’m really focused on cinematography, and I want to learn more about directing. Right now, i’m really focused on lightning and composition. How to tell a story which each shot and movement that you pick.

 

KE: I want to learn to express ideas I have in my head, whether that be through writing or acting. I really want to find the artistic beauty in storytelling.

 

M: What is the thing you’re most excited about for your time here in The Initiative?

 

CC: That I’m here finally doing what I’ve wanted to do for so long and being involved in the film industry and it’s exciting to see how much I can learn here.

 

MMW: I am excited to see each other grow in their passion for filmmaking, and I’m excited for my self to learn as much as I can. I want to remain humble and work well with others.

 

KE: I’m excited to grow and to see growth in others. I’m excited to have a better understanding of art and other people.

 

M: What do you want to leave The Initiative with?

 

CC: To have the confidence to make something good. To have the confidence to make a feature film.

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Picture of Micah Mcwhorter

 

MMW: When my time is done, I would like to have full confidence in myself to create a project, run with it, and have it be something people will watch and enjoy. I hope I will be able sell myself as an artist, where people trust what I create will be quality; creative and unique.

 

KE: I want to have discipline in my art and my life. Being confident in my ability to create and be an actor in the industry. To not be afraid of failure or trying. I want to walk away with a larger capacity for imagination and creativity.

 

M: Thanks guys! Have a good rest of your day!!

 

So there it is!! I hoped you enjoyed meeting half of the recent additions to our team here at The Initiative. Be sure to continue to follow along with all of our journeys’ here.

 

Keep your eyes peeled for the second half of this interview with the women that have recently joined us!!