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.

 

Wonder Woman: More Than a Feminist Icon

Motivated by compassion and love is Diana of Themyscira, the Wonder Woman who is the latest superhero to grace our cinema screens. We all know her as the powerful goddess who answers to no man and seeks to defeat Ares, the god of war, thus saving humanity and making it pure again.

If only it were so were so simple.

Wonder Woman stands as an empowering testament of female capability, yet it masks itself in the desire to make life mean something. Men and women alike can relate to her character because of what she stands for: the desire to ‘make a difference’ in a suffering world, and the desire to continue doing so even in the realisation that the world will always suffer.

Before the age of disillusionment and cynicism rises to meet us, young adults often face a wonderfully powerful Messianic phase in which desires of finding a ‘cause’ to cling to come to fruition. Many times these desires are enacted upon and take many forms, whether it is through education, donating to charity or placing oneself in the midst of the trouble, it is common to give a damn.

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Perhaps this is why we see so many people entering fields such as medicine, social work and law enforcement – these are practical ways of enacting this Messianic phase.*

As someone who never had to care before, who didn’t even know there was a world to care about, Diana instinctively latched onto the idea that the world needed her. She was not aware of the power she possessed, and she was never told the purpose of her creation was to save the world from itself.

A powerful scene towards the beginning of the film shows Diana sneaking away from her home in the middle of the night to embark on her journey of Ares’ defeat, when her mother finds her and warns her that she may never be able to return. “Who would I be if I stay?” she replies. She became aware of a cause, and as a result felt responsible to do something about it.

Similarly, in our society, once a social issue is brought to light, it becomes our responsibility to do something about it. Ignorance is no longer blissful, and if one so chooses to do nothing, it becomes wilful – and who wants to be guilty of that?

Wonder Woman urges us to fulfil our perceived duty as human beings: to realise our common purpose, to live for something bigger than ourselves and to leave our comfort zone when doing so, even when it seems like nothing will change.

The themes of compassion, justice and ‘making a difference’ in the world is pertinent in the film. More insightful, though, is Diana’s journey from being the ‘saviour’ to realising she is actually powerless to change anything in a world that is self-destructive – in a world not wanting her help.

How do we, as those who do want to have an impact, respond to this? Furthermore, why should we even care? Why should we, like Diana, keep on fighting for humanity even as we watch humanity make the same mistakes? Diana’s partner in the film – American soldier and spy, John, insightfully outlines his motives for his actions. He says he can “do nothing or do something… I already tried nothing.”

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This is a statement I believe resonates with many people, yet the perplexing question for me is: Why do we even feel like we want to do something? For Diana, it was the purpose of her existence – her “pre-ordinance”, she called it, and so it makes sense.

Is it also our pre-ordinance? What is our motivation and why do we persevere even as the world continues in its suffering? Interestingly, superhero films, such as Wonder Woman, all carry these similar themes of responsibility, duty and ‘saving the world’. They are the highest grossing films of our time.

It seems like a collective fantasy we have as a human race: to make our lives count for something great. Perhaps we project this ideal onto films such as these. They make us question our own pre-ordinance, and if we don’t have one, then we crave it. They call us to action. Ultimately, they are representations of what we could be.

Wonder Woman, albeit an empowering female figure, is a picture of the human purpose – a motivation to contribute to the common good of humanity. She calls into question our desires and motives for making a difference in our dark world, and challenges us to continue doing so even when nothing seems to change.

Written by Hayley McGarvie.

 

*Going into medicine is one way for people to enact that Messianic phase.

Participation Awards and How to Have Tenacious Creativity

BY BRENDEN BELL

I don’t know if anyone truly transitions into their adulthood with the mentality that they’re ready for whatever life has to throw at them. I most certainly did not.

 

Achieving adulthood was a messy, prolonged labor for me, and in some ways, only now is she starting to crown.

 

I made a major career change into filmmaking five years ago and it has taught me so so much about life and what my place is in it as a Millennial.

 

While I’ve never been given the titular “participation award” for anything, I understand the concept. I’ve expected great things to happen to me without actually sacrificing time and investing hard work into something. It’s the double edged sword of growing up in a culture of instant gratification.

 

It’s conditioned me to believe certain things about the nature of life and how I should be treated. Hard work that allows years to create something is an extremely unattractive prospect indeed.

 

Working in film has helped me recognise some of those tendencies within myself, and how to combat them.

 

It’s OK to Fail

 

This may sound like a strange point, but hear me out.

 

I think the biggest lie behind this idea of participation awards is that failure is not an option. You always win even if you fail.

 

A failure without the consequence of failure sets up an unrealistic expectation in the child that they will always win. So, when an adult inevitably fails at something and feels the consequences of that failure, they will not be emotionally equipped to deal with that failure.

 

The way I learned filmmaking is the “kick you in the deep end of the pool and hope you swim” style of learning. As you can probably guess, it involved a lot of missteps and some straight up failure.

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To this day, I fail in some small way at my job every day.

 

When I first began this work, those little failures would kill me. I would forget to post something on Facebook and feel like I didn’t belong on the team anymore. The more I failed and was still trusted with work, the more I understood that it was OK to fail as long as I owned up to it and made it right.

 

I am now more comfortable with failure and happier for it. It has positively impacted every area of my life and has made me more OK with taking risks, because I know that failure is a normal part of life and doesn’t have to be the end of a story.

 

Romanticising the Adventure

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I fell in love with the idea of being a filmmaker when I watched the behind the scenes of The Lord of the Rings. The level of camaraderie and pure creativity they all appeared to have was intoxicating, and I wanted to be a part of it too.

 

I romanticised the idea of being a filmmaker and struck from my memory every mention of “years of development”, “failure” and “nervous breakdown” that I heard. Filmmaking was a grand, enjoyable adventure one can go on with their friends.

 

When I went on the journey of making a film myself, I had a rude awakening. It’s a lot of hard work. You don’t always like the people you work with. The thing you thought was your passion becomes the very 9 to 5 drudgery you joined film to avoid.

 

If people are handing out awards for showing up, it’s easy to come to believe you don’t need to put in a lot of effort in order to get what you want. This was most definitely the case for me when it came to filmmaking.

 

Everyone in my generation has a dream, but few want to put in the day to day work needed to achieve those dreams.

 

What Then Shall We Do?

 

What’s left to do? How do we as a culture set aside our participation awards and become tenaciously creative?

 

Being OK with failure and being willing to put in a lot of hard work are both part of the equation. However, I think the biggest solution is embracing pain and suffering as a normal part of life.

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So much of life as a Millennial is about finding ways to avoid or subvert painful and vulnerable experiences. If we want to be successful in our craft, we are going to have to be ok with discomfort and pain in order to get what we want.

 

I’ve wrestled a great deal with what separates a child or adolescent from an adult (or what should, more than age or higher brain function).

 

I’ve decided it’s someone who is willing to suffer in order to see their goals met in their career and and to see their family succeed and thrive. The adult suffers so that the family can be at rest and enjoy.

 

It is those who are willing to suffer and never give up that are truly triumphant and deserving of awards and our respect.
Do you have a dream and failure or life has gotten you down? I hope this article gives you some inspiration to take that next practical step to make that dream a reality. Dust yourself off and become the tenacious creative that you can be.

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

 

How to Get Away With Murder… Filming in Public

By Greg Garofalo

So you’re an independent filmmaker and you’re ready to take on the big city and shoot your film in a large city or out in public for added realism. Things are going well, you’re on schedule for once, your actors know their lines. The stars have aligned.

You’re just about to call “Action” when all of a sudden the boys in blue show up with a cease and desist.

All of a sudden you find out that in order to shoot a film in public you need to fill out some sort of permit, as well as forms 124-135, subsections “GOOD” and “LUCK”.

Now you’re mortified. Cold sweat starts to bead up on your forehead and you desperately wish someone would have warned you about this and would have told you what to do! Well don’t worry, I’m here to save you from all of these frustrations and headaches.

First thing you need to know is that filming on public property is legal… with some strings attached, before going out to film do a bit of research to know what you can and cannot do. (Disclaimer: these are not government sites and may require further investigation)

Here’s a bit of info on Australian law concerning filming in public.

Here’s a bit on U.S law.  

Please note that I’m not advocating for you to break the law, just giving you a bit of information on how to avoid being shut down while you’re filming.

That being said, here’s some advice to help you out:

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  1. SKELETON CREW

Filming with a smaller crew is good for a couple of reasons, first of all, you don’t draw much attention to yourself which is always a good thing. Second of all, it might save your crew from being kicked out of your location.

A few months ago I was working on a film that was being shot in a National Park, we were approached during our shoot by a Park Ranger asking if we had gotten a permit, being student filmmakers we definitely didn’t. Our Director immediately got online to the park’s site and found out we were one crew member short of being considered a film crew in the park’s eyes. If we had one more person working with us we would have been slapped with a $500 fine.

Ergo, the smaller the crew you have, the better.

  1. BE INCONSPICUOUS

Nothing will ruin your shoot faster than having either a security guard, or a police officer shutting you down. Again, I’m not advocating that you break the law, but often times you can be asked to stop filming solely because an authority figure sees a film crew outside. On the last film I directed we made sure to switch everything over from a camera bag to a backpack. You’ll not only have more mobility while moving around, but you’ll be next to invisible. Also make sure to keep your equipment to the minimum. Now I know your dolly jib shot is indispensable, but get creative with what equipment you can easily move around.

  1. HAVE A FLOATER

This one’s more for if you have a skeleton of a skeleton crew, but when putting together your crew roster it really helps to have someone around to warn you beforehand if a store owner or police officer is nearby. Having a floater also helps with traffic control. No matter how inconspicuous you are, you will always have people asking questions and you can’t just stop your shoot every five minutes, you need someone on standby to Jedi mind trick people outta there.

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“Move along. Move along.”

If you’re fortunate enough to have an AD on your set, just make sure to prep them beforehand that they’ll probably have to channel Obi-Wan Kenobi for a moment.

  1. STAY AWAY FROM LOGOS

This one might seem obvious, but really make an effort to keep any corporate logo or ad OUT of your film. It might seem trivial and you might be thinking, “But Greg, there’s no way Starbucks is even going to see my film.”

Trust me, they will. I don’t know what crystal ball companies look through to find these things, but they have employees working around the clock to find an excuse for a law suit. So do the smart thing and DON’T GIVE THEM ONE.

After that you should be good to go, but honestly the most important thing to do before you shoot in public is read up on the laws in your city. If you opened the links I posted above you can see there can be a million loopholes and each city has different regulations and variations when it comes to filming. Knowledge is your greatest ally here, know what you can do for sure and know what you might be taking a risk on. It will help you so much more in the long run.

Spotlight on Botswana: revealing a ‘scandalous’ love story

BY ANNETTE LANGE

 

*** WARNING: This article contains spoilers!!! ***

 

Having grown up among the Batswana community in South Africa as one of the few white people in our township, I was always made aware of the fact that I was white, not black – from both sides.

 

Even though the Apartheid system had been abolished in 1991 (and I was born in 1995 – the so-called born-free generation), the effects of it and attitude were still ingrained in people’s minds. I never felt truly part of either the Batswana, or the white community in South-Africa – a weird limbo situation.

 

Needless to say, the trailer of ‘A United Kingdom’ sent tears streaming down my face – even when watching it for the 10th time. Seeing a powerful testimony of both the black and white community reconciled through the ‘scandalous’ union between Seretse Khama, a black inheritor of the Bamangwato chieftainship, and Ruth Williams, a white typist from London, pulled on my heartstrings even more.

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A United Kingdom follows the true story of Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) and Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), who meet and fall in love in London in the 1940’s. Their relationship is not only opposed by their families, but by Khama’s uncle, the regent of Bechuanaland, his tribe and both the South-African and British Governments who do everything in their might to prevent their union.

 

Through it all, their love overcomes all opposition, efforts and exile, ultimately leading to Seretse becoming the first president of Botswana, now being an independent country after its state as a British Protectorate.

 

Under his leadership, Botswana became one of the fastest growing economies after being the world’s third poorest country. His uncompromisable stance for equality and integrity was a beacon of hope amidst a region ruled by racial segregation, civil war and corruption.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvOWLRNxVs8

 

I applaud Amma Asante (director) and David Oyelowo (actor and producer) for their incredible efforts in making this story come alive. I am and will remain a huge fan of this film. However, there were some melodramatic and westernized elements and choices that pulled me out of the story on several occasions.

 

Pike and Oyelowo’s acting performances are outstanding and they have great chemistry on screen even though Oyelowo’s accent pulled me out of the story every now and then, sometimes rolling the ‘r’, sometimes not. I realize this is a daunting task, seeing that Seretse would have had the British accent mixed with the Setswana accent due to him living in London for several years. Also, Oyelowo’s occasional choice of pausing in the middle of his sentences as if he had a hard time speaking English was unnecessary, since Khama was perfectly fluent and proficient in English.

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The cinematography and production design was beautiful and aided in creating the stark contrast between the different backgrounds of both Khama and Williams, the culture of London and Botswana and the obvious presence and absence of wealth and economic stability.

 

Most of the locations were the actual locations where the story took place: the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, the St Mary’s Church in Isleworth and the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. For the scenes set in Bechuanaland, they mainly filmed in Serowe, Botswana’s biggest village and Seretse’s actual former house that was put back together after finding it in a dilapidated state.

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I realize that Asante and Oyelowo’s main focus was the love and relationship between Seretse and Williams, they do not deny the fact that they are both ‘unashamed romantics,’ but in my opinion the focus on the romanticism took away from its authenticity and led to unnecessary melodramatic elements.

 

When Ruth first catches a glimpse of Sereste, we see him sitting confidently on the armrest of an armchair discussing politics in a macho-like manner among his African brothers. In my opinion it does not reflect Khama’s humble demeanor he is said to have had. “Seretse Khama was known for his intelligence and integrity, and a wicked sense of humour –puncturing the pomposity of those who had too high an opinion of themselves.” For the sake of his country, he stepped down as a chief and became a cattle farmer for a while. His weapon was humility, not arrogance.

 

In another scene, Seretse delivers a brilliant speech to his people who are assembled to vote whether or not they want him to continue as chief. However, the part where the men raise their hands to vote was drawn out dramatically with long periods of silence was a bit unrealistic. This particular kgotla (public meeting) in which he was recognized as Kgosi (king) by his people was the last meeting following a series of meetings through which he had gained more and more favor from the people. The men would not have taken so long to vote for his chieftainship as he “was popularly recognised as Kgosi together with his wife.”

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Another element of melodrama is seen in the portrayal of the antagonists of the story: Sir Alistair Canning (Jack Davenport) and Lady Lilly Canning (Jessica Oyelowo). Even though their intentions obviously weren’t pure, their portrayal as villains was unnecessarily exaggerated. It came across that Sir and Lady Canning made no attempt to hide their pleasure in Seretse and Ruth’s misfortune, even in their company.

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There were also a couple of moments that gave away the fact that the screenplay and dialogue were not written by an African.

 

Which brings me to the following examples of ‘westernisation’:

Ruth remains in Bechuanaland while her husband is in exile. During this time, her first child is born. In her effort to integrate herself into the Batswana community, Ruth nurses her newborn baby and joins the circle of other African mothers in the bush hospital, I am 90% sure they would not have just sat in silence acknowledging each other with a smile. I think I’d have permission to assume this group of nursing women would have been chuckling or at least chatting away in their native language, at least to the point when Ruth joins their circle. It was not the behaviour I expected from a group of Batswana mothers.

 

The people of the rural villages in Botswana are portrayed as meek and quiet. In view of the fact that Ruth had become a member of the royal family, I can imagine that a certain respect or reverence towards her might have caused members of her community to feel inhibited in her presence. From my personal experience, however, I would describe the Batswana as a lively, confident people.

 

The part that was executed extremely well however (the tearjerker for me) was the scene where the women of the village gather together in song to show their acceptance of Ruth as one of their own. I have seen such a scenario many times, and it never fails to make my heart skip a beat, when I see an example of reconciliation and acceptance such as this.

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Even though these few elements distracted me from the story now and then, I praise the filmmakers for brilliantly telling the story from both sides: Seretse’s challenges in being accepted in England as well as Ruth’s challenges in being accepted by the Batswana and the white community in Southern Africa (the part I identified with the most).

 

And, a bonus for me personally was of course, to see a story told that was so close to home. I was surprised I had never heard of the story myself, but even “many in Botswana did not know the story either, despite Seretse and Ruth’s son being the current president.”

 

I’m excited to see what the response to this film will be in Botswana and South-Africa and also to see future projects of Amma Asante and David Oyelowo. Hats off to both of them and the team!

 

Getting to know you

Written by Annette Lange.

 

“Creating a character is like getting to know a person.”

I remember Marion Cotillard saying this in one of her interviews. She briefly mentioned it before she continued to answer other questions, but that statement stuck with me – as if the penny dropped for the first time.

And it’s true.

When you act and see yourself on screen, your character looks the same as you, but you are completely different.

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When I think about the way I get to know people, I like hearing their story first. I understand them much better once I’m aware of their background and can trace why they behave in the ways they do.

As a matter of fact, I’ve realized it catches people off guard when I ask what their story is, after we’ve met only once. I might have to rethink my strategy…

When it comes to creating characters for acting, there always seems to be a wall. I still have a hard time getting into the character completely, because I tend to distance myself from the character.

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Yes, I realize this also has to do with lack of confidence, but mainly I think it’s because I judged them and didn’t treat my characters as people. They aren’t (don’t worry, I do understand the concept of acting), but every character reflects humanity in many ways.

If there is one thing I’ve learned after 3 years of travelling, meeting people from all over the world and hearing their stories, it’s that I have no right to judge anyone, because I have no idea what they’ve gone through.

We all act out of a place of hurt – our emotional baggage. We all have filters. So many things influence us and shape us into the person we are right now – and the same applies to your characters.

Viewing your character as a project creates a distance, but if you think of him/her as a person you can get to know intimately – it clearly shifts the perspective.

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It shifted mine and lifted off a lot of pressure because I can empathize with where they’re coming from.

This is why I fell in love with acting in the first place – you have the freedom to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and discover the intricacies of humanity.

You are challenged to understand and love people you would normally not want to understand and love.

We, as actors, writers, artists, filmmakers get to create.

As actors, a backstory is one of the things we need to create to make our characters believable. You have probably heard that many times before and know that it’s important to create one. And one that fits and adds to the story.

I have definitely caught myself being more concerned about the way my performance comes across rather than being concerned about who my character is. And I don’t like it.

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But, I want to encourage you, to create a character out of a place of curiosity and love for the hurting individual you are creating.

Focus on who your character is, rather than what he/she does. Because if you know your character inside out, the physical actions will follow automatically. This also prevents emotional mapping, e.g. planning beforehand when your character will cry or burst out in anger instead of responding to the given circumstances (which I am also guilty of).

What questions would you ask your character if you were to meet up with them for coffee? What’s their story? What emotional baggage are they carrying around and why? What happened in their life that led up to the situation they’re in now?

Questions you should always address about your character are:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Where am I?
  3. When is it?
  4. Where have I just come from?
  5. What do I want?
  6. Why do I want it?
  7. Why do I want it now?
  8. What will happen if I don’t get it now?
  9. How will I get what I want by doing what?
  10. What must I overcome?*

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And this is not only applicable to the characters we create, but rather everyone we meet. The people you dislike, that get on your nerves. The people you find hard to love – do you know they’re background? Have you put yourself in their shoes?

That ability helped me a lot in my interaction with people, and I want to apply it to my characters too. Everyone is lovable. At the heart of every person is the desire to be loved and accepted in a world full of hurt.