How to Make talking to yourself genuine and authentic

BY ANNETTE LANGE

Fellow Actors, nobody wants to sit through a stilted performance of a lifeless monologue.

On the other hand, there is nothing more fascinating than watching an actor embody a character through monologue successfully. It’s incredible when he/she presents the character’s thoughts through his/her physical presence, imagination and inner activity – not just the words of the monologue.

This being said, here are helpful guidelines I summed up from legendary Uta Hagen’s take on performing monologues. By monologues, I mean any scene in which your character is alone in a given time and place and finds him/herself talking out loud for a specific reason at a moment of crisis.

First and foremost, it’s important we know:

WHY WE TALK TO OURSELVES

Talking to ourselves is always an attempt on our part to gain control over our circumstances.

These circumstances can look very different. They can be boredom or a tragic situation.

For example, when I’m in a hurry, my verbalisation of, “Ok, I’ve got my keys, my wallet… where’s my phone?” is merely my attempt at organisation. In the case of a dramatic monologue, Uta Hagen explains “it’s that you are in crisis and need the words to help you find answers.”

So, when you tackle your next monologue, make sure you determine and are aware of your circumstances – or your ‘crisis’.

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The next important aspect is observing yourself and others and knowing:

WHAT TALKING TO OURSELVES LOOKS LIKE

A big temptation for actors is putting too much emphasis on the actual words. Uta Hagen describes it as “mostly a subconscious procedure that makes you verbalize” because it is an involuntary process, most of the time we’re not even aware of it.

Because we are often so caught up in our thoughts, words are merely the byproduct of trying to figure out a situation, or an emotion we are submerged in. It is, in other words, an overflow of our thought process about the circumstances we’re currently in or an experience we’ve just had.

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This is why it’s always important to take into consideration that:

OUR WORDS NEED PHYSICAL PRESENCE

In her book Respect for Acting, Hagen emphasizes the importance of partnering physical action with words: “I strongly recommend that the scene be found physically before you approach the verbal action […] you do not come into the room in order to talk to yourself [emphasis added].”

Generally, people aren’t actually physically still when they talk to themselves.

You will make life much easier for yourself if your words are accompanied by physical activity. You don’t have to finish the activity, but it will help in your character’s attempt to gain control over his/her circumstances.

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Even though physical presence is essential, be aware of:

THE DANGER WITH PHYSICAL ACTIONS

Partnering actions with your words does not mean you have to physically act out the words. Or as Hagen puts it, “Don’t illustrate the life you are verbally fantasizing.” This is an easy trap us actors can fall into. You don’t need to show your audience what your words mean, which brings me to the next point of danger.

In a monologue, your character is alone. He/she knows exactly what is going on and doesn’t need to explain to anyone the whole story. But, obviously your audience still needs to understand the context. This is why Hagen advises to “let the humanness of your behaviour reveal the necessary events” in order for them to understand the story.

I’m aware of the trickiness of partnering words with actions, so allow me to share:

HELPFUL QUESTIONS TO ASK IN PREPARATION

Similar to Hagen’s previous advice to start with the physicality of the monologue first, ask yourself:

“What would I do here if I didn’t talk?”

Start with the physical presence first, and at some point, as Hagen reassures us, it’s going to be easy to start talking.

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Consider what the real reason is of why you’re doing these things under the given circumstances in order to allow any verbal fantasy to take shape.

IN CONCLUSION

At the end of the day, don’t forget these guidelines aren’t meant to stress you out. They are there to help you make your performance as believable as possible in order to tell a story worth telling.

Have fun in your journey of exploring and imitating human behaviour, in order to let the stories you tell. Be an inspiration to your audience.

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Is “Guardians of the Galaxy” Marvel’s Second Best Film?

BY KEATON J. EVANS

*Warning: Huuuuge Spoilers!*

Guardians of the Galaxy is considered to be one of the greatest creative achievements by Marvel and also the favourite of many fans. But is it the best Marvel film? Or has the new Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 surpassed it?

I thoroughly enjoyed the film when I watched it a few days ago, and I wondered how it stacks up to the first one. I made three rounds for both movies to compete in and we shall see who the winner is at the end of the article.

These three points are the ones I considered to be the most important differences between the two.

ROUND 1: THE PLOT

Guardians Vol. 1: Peter Quill embarks on an adventure to escape Ronan and everyone else out to get him and the infinity stone he carries. Along the way he’s forced to work with other convicts. They all learn to work as a family and end up saving Xandar, a planet that Ronan was bent on destroying. Only by uniting as a team do they stop Ronan and take-back the infinity stone. Overall, the plot establishes the theme that family is what is most important. To read more about this, read Brenden’s piece here.

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Guardians Vol. 2: In the second installment we see the team working together to protect a superior race of people and then fleeing said people when Rocket steals one of the batteries they were hired to protect. Their ship crashes on an alien planet where they meet Peter’s father, Ego. We then follow father and son and the plot between Gamora’s sister Nebula, who’s out to take her revenge of Gamora. It’s a bit slow in some areas, which is understandable because the movie is character-focused. Both films are. But overall, the plot drags in some areas, being sacrificed to the jokes and humor, which are good, but take away from making the plot stronger.

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The first film brought the charm of family and bringing together a ragtag team to win this round over vol. 2.

WINNER: Vol. 1

ROUND 2: THE VILLAIN

Guardians Vol. 1: In the first volume of the Guardians of the Galaxy our heroes face Ronan, a leader of the Cree people who’s out for the infinity stone and couldn’t care less about Thanos. He’s about as flat as a villain could be, but still intimidating and powerful. He’s defeated by the Guardians rather easily, though that hammer of his sure was crazy good with an infinity stone strapped inside of it. Overall, he’s about as typical as Marvel villains come.

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Guardians Vol. 2: In the second volume of the Guardians’ adventure, we face a whole new kind of villain: a father gone bad. His reveal is dynamic, a twist to many fans and a highlight of the film, to be sure. I know I was shocked and I feared for Star-lord, a reaction I haven’t felt for many characters. But when Star-lord literally went starry-eyed, I was concerned. And the horror of all the children Ego killed and buried was also uncomfortable to realize. And, being a planet is something we haven’t seen yet, which adds to the originality of the character. Admittedly it feels like they’re fighting the Death Star at the end, but that’s for another round. The thing about Ego is his motives sound grand, but they too appear a bit murky.

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With Ego being the more original and surprising twist of the two, the winner of this round belongs to Star-lord’s dad.

WINNER: Vol. 2

So far the two are tied, which is good. It’s what makes fights interesting. Good thing there’s a third and final round to settle which one’s better!

ROUND 3: THE CLIMAX

Guardians Vol. 1: The climax of the first film included an epic space battle above Xandar, the planet the heroes are desperate to save. After trying to stop a giant ship from crashing into the city, the ship is able to break the blockade and crash into the city. But before Ronan can slap his infinity stone-infused hammer into the ground and wipe out the world, he is challenged to a dance-off by Peter. After distracting Ronan he takes ahold of the infinity stone and defeats Ronan with the help of the other Guardians. The dance-off is completely unexpected and hilarious and the moment they unite is a powerful one.

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Guardians Vol. 2: At times the climax reminded me of people trying to blow up the Death Star, and I’m still trying to figure out if this is a good thing or not. It was unique that they had to fight a being which was a planet, and it added a strange dynamic to the fight. I think Ego being essentially invincible (until you destroyed the core) made the fighting seem superfluous, but what was thrilling was seeing each member of the team having to fight Ego in their own way. There was a good deal at stake too, with the earth being in danger of Ego’s take-over.

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With both movies having excellent final clashes, this one is probably the closest of the three rounds. But….

WINNER: Vol. 1

With two out of three wins, the original Guardians of the Galaxy remains one of the best films in the Marvel cinematic universe. I enjoyed both quite a bit, and think the second one is good, but the first one remains the better of the two. Do you agree with the results, or do you think I’m crazy?

Whatever you may think, James Gunn knows how to make popular movies, no doubt about it!

7 Popular Movies With A Terrible Worldview

BY ANNETTE LANGE

Movies are a curse for the human community.

There’s no doubt they’re a blessing. We love movies. They are a powerful tool, hence we make them. For many of us, it’s hard to imagine life without them.

They’re entertaining. They squeeze out emotions we didn’t know we had and they inspire and encourage us. They’re excellent conversation fillers for awkward silences and transport us into a different world in the space of 2 hours.

BUT, they’re also an excellent advocate of procrastination. They’re our chocolate cake and Kleenex for mood swings and boredom. They can infiltrate our views, expectations and desires – unless we don’t let it get to that point.

They are excellent manipulators. They disguise their message through eccentric characters, catchy songs, comedy, amazing visuals and angles, subconsciously making you proponents for ethics you’d normally not take on as your own.

Even though there are many examples, these are the examples I came up with:

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Its songs will not leave your brain for weeks after watching it. The set design and costumes are amazing and you get to fall in love and identify with the individual characters. But, if you think about it, doesn’t it seem a bit skewed seeing Sandy ultimately earn the love of Danny by changing everything about her physical appearance through flaunting leather clothes, a perm and cigarettes?

prettywoman_kissthemgoosbye_2817029PRETTY WOMAN

Originally, this movie was meant to shed light on the grimness of prostitution. The original screenplay did not have a happy ending and was gritty and dark, but because people supposedly ‘wanted to see a fairy tale’, it got changed.

This in turn, promoted the idea that a life of prostitution was glamorous and romantic. Now, the message of Pretty Woman could be summed up as “When in doubt, buy designer clothes, get more money and a boyfriend and your life will be fulfilled”.

django-001DJANGO

Django Unchained is an excellent example of good story, aesthetics, comedy and dialogue. In the story we follow Django and Dr. King Schulz taking violent revenge on the most wanted criminals in the South.

I am not against violence in movies. If the story is worth telling and it serves the story – great! But, what I disagree with in Django Unchained, is the way in which violent revenge is applauded and seen as the solution to injustice.

It is told in a manner that makes the viewer cheer for the violent retaliation of the protagonists. It seems good people and their allies are allowed to take revenge and punish the ‘baddies’ violently, because… well, they’re the good people, right?

the-notebook-3-rachel-mcadams-and-ryan-gosling-1440671-2560-1703THE NOTEBOOK

Speaking of Rom-Com’s, The Notebook is an audience favorite – at least for the majority of young women. At first glance, the story seems harmless. It shows a cute older couple whose relationship stayed strong throughout the years.

But in my humble opinion, it does more damage than good as it romanticises sensual and shallow attraction, the breaking of promises, betrayal of trust and rebellion against parents. I’m not so sure that this combination will lead to a healthy relationship. Instead it would give ground to heartache, bitterness and misery.

open-uri20150608-27674-xbjvsj_76fffa1aTANGLED

I love Tangled. I love the songs, the animation is so excellent it’s almost scary and the relationship between Maximus and Flynn is priceless. I never really had a think about its message or worldview, until I read Brenden Bell’s article Why I won’t let my kids watch Tangled.

And like Brenden rightly explains, Tangled, like many other princess movies, conveys the idea of wish fulfillment. Everyone around the hero has to sacrifice themselves in order to have his/her needs met without having to give in return.

The idea of being able to make an insensitive criminal change his lifestyle and fall in love with you within 2 days can be misinterpreted too.

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The Twilight Saga broke box-office records, and there was no doubt it was successful. I would have been happy for the creators if it weren’t for the skewed messages it sends to its audience, primarily young teenage girls. The story glamorizes violent and vengeful behaviour toward the romantic interest, secrets, abandonment (disguised as love) and lying to parents.

Again, similar to the idea of The Notebook, I would definitely not encourage anyone to use this combination in a pursuit of “happily ever after”.

fifty-shades-of-grey-1024FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

I have to confess I haven’t seen this movie, but I would also never choose to watch it, based on the reviews I’ve seen, word of mouth, the sexual explicitness and the storyline.

Fifty Shades of Grey is, in my opinion, an example of misusing the power of film to dull, mislead and harm its audience by disguising domestic violence and emotional abuse as a normality, even romance.

What personally frightens me is how popular it was. The book series was the fastest-selling series yet, even though so many warnings and boycotts have come against it.

The relationship between Christian and Anastasia is clearly violent and abusive on a sexual, physical and emotional level. Even though Anastasia ultimately chooses to leave, the relationship is still portrayed as acceptable because she always had the opportunity to leave.

In her article, Dr. Ludy Green said this film “could only have adverse effects on recovering victims, like brainwashing them into thinking that their previous abusive relationships may have been acceptable or that maybe they were overreacting to the aggression showed by their partner.”

BE ALERT AND RECOGNIZE…

Please don’t get me wrong. My intention is not to entirely bash these movies. I want to remind you, watching movies should go hand in hand with a healthy dose of skepticism and alertness.

Every artist creates his work through specific filters. Be informed, discuss and process the movies you watch and detect the damaging messages creeping into your consciousness which in turn will affect your expectations of what life, love, conflict resolution etc. should look like.

Filmmakers, Writers, Actors, and Creatives, be aware of your own filters, because you’re responsible for the work your audience will end up seeing.

How to Willy Wonka Your Way to an Acting Technique

BY KEATON J. EVANS

Follow me and you will see a world of pure imagination full of creative ways to develop your acting technique into the stuff of wonders.

For me, my journey of developing my own unique acting technique was similar to the ones of the children in Gene Wilder’s, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

While I was learning about all the different techniques, Meisner, Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, to name a few, I was a bit overwhelmed by which ones to use and which ones to avoid. I didn’t have a clear picture of what to do.

Then I thought about the analogy of a kid in a candy shop. Similar to the children in the movie, I was able to choose different acting techniques like candy. And in doing so, created my own ‘collection of sweets’ comprising a pile of style.

Try all the candy you want!

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Contrary to what our parents would tell us about eating candy, in this metaphor of creating your own technique, the best thing you can do is try all the candy. From the zany sours of Meisner, to the chocolate of Stanislavski, there’s so much to choose from.

For me, it’s an easy temptation to try to find one proven method and just stick to it. I want to be able to have a technique which will get me through various acting struggles I know I will encounter.

But the thing is, one technique alone probably won’t be enough. It might take certain tips from other people and experiences to help develop your style.

It takes time

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Imagine being given the challenge to try every type of candy in the world. How long do you think it would take you? Chances are, a fairly long time.

Same goes for developing your acting technique.

When approaching your own unique style, the best thing to have is patience. It takes people years, sometimes even decades, to get comfortable with a certain style of acting.

Give yourself time to try all sorts of different ones to see which of them you like.

Create your own candy

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Just like Wonka had his own recipes and factory, make your own factory of techniques. When you’re under pressure to learn something, you’re able to come up with your own strategies.

For example, during the first few short films I was in I had to scramble to study the scripts. Under pressure I was able to find out how I study: through many scribbled notes.

I wasn’t taught this, but I used it all the same and it worked. Thing is, you don’t have to use the techniques people suggest. You have the creative freedom to come up with your own unique system.

What I have found, through wrestling with what it means to act, is there’s no one correct way, it all depends on what works best for you. You have the ability to try every approach and technique, you’re not limited to one specific one.

You may find the best thing you can do in your acting is adopt a few things from each technique and disregard other things. In this way, there’s no pressure to find a technique as quickly as possible, because again, it will take time.

There are no limits here; take as much as you want. And fortunately, unlike candy, you won’t get a toothache by taking too much. So let Wonka’s story be inspiration to your own acting journey, and step into a world of pure imagination.

Andrew Garfield is an Ugly Actor

BY CHARIS JOY JACKSON

Over the last few years the name “Andrew Garfield” has worked its way into our homes with films like The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and most recently because of Hacksaw Ridge, which I highly recommend.

Garfield is one of those actors I want more people to pay attention to.

As an aspiring actress myself, I am always intrigued by a certain quality in an actor’s performance. Often, it’s something I have a hard time defining.

It’s a characteristic I find uncomfortable and ugly to portray because I don’t want to be viewed that way, which was one of the reasons I started the Ugly Acting Series. I wanted to explore what it meant to be an ugly actor and why I think more people should pay attention to ugly acting.

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In previous articles, I’ve focused on women who I find to be profoundly “ugly”; actresses like Angelina Jolie and Emily Blunt. Today, I’m excited to add Andrew Garfield to my list of ugly actors. The first guy to join the ranks, so to speak.

I’m not gonna lie. I’ve developed a bit of a celebrity crush on the 33-year-old actor, so when I say, Andrew Garfield is as ugly as they come, please know this is one of the highest compliments I can give.

What makes him so fantastically ugly? Let’s take a deeper look.

*** WARNING CONTAINS SPOILERS ***

The Brutality of Hacksaw Ridge

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With Andrew Garfield’s most recent success in Hacksaw Ridge, I hope it’s no surprise that I find him to be a singular ugly actor. If you have the misfortune to not have seen this movie yet, I am sorry for you. However, if you go watch the trailer, you will find even it holds amazing moments of ugliness.

Andrew Garfield plays Desmond Doss, who in real life became a US Army corporal and served as a medic in WWII.

What makes Andrew’s performance so worthy of ugliness is his stubbornness. Beyond all things Desmond Doss shows an extreme stubbornness that is both ugly and heroic.

He was willing to sacrifice everything to stand by his conviction.

I can only imagine how Andrew felt, portraying a character who so stubbornly refused to touch a gun – even to the point of missing his own wedding. There was his bride, waiting at the church and there he was being taken to military jail. All he had to do was pick up the gun and show he could use it, but he wouldn’t budge.

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I know I’m contradicting myself here, but I actually find this ugliness quite beautiful.

My favorite moment from this film is when Desmond comes down the wall after his busy night of rescuing men.

It’s a brilliant piece of ugly acting from Andrew.

He’s smeared in other people’s blood, covered from the explosions and instead of staying in that heroic place, he allows himself to crack under the pressure. I mean, he totally had permission to do so, rescuing over 70 men in one night is hard work, but to actually go there as an actor is quite uncomfortable. It’s vulnerable.

I like to imagine one of the acting choices Andrew made for this moment, the inner monologue running through his mind was that he couldn’t save any more and that instead of breaking down because of the overwhelming physicality of it, that it was because he’d felt like a failure.

While other war movies allow their heroes to crack too, I feel like this one is different. There’s something about Andrew’s choices here that moved theatregoers to tears. Maybe it’s the questioning look in his eyes or the struggle to hold together. It’s a strong choice on Andrew’s part, but it’s still done subtly so the audience can make it their own.

The Weakness of Never Let Me Go

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Never Let Me Go, made me want to be a better actress. I mean look at the cast of ugly actors in this film: Keira Knightley. Carey Mulligan. Andrew Garfield.

The part that sticks out to me the most is how emotional Tommy is, which is the character Andrew plays. It is fantastically appalling.

We live in a society that tells men that crying is for sissies, that it’s a sign of weakness and unsightly.

So to watch a film, where the heart-throb shows these signs of “weakness” is ugly and uncomfortable. BUT, it’s also the truth and I find truth to be one of the most stunning things in the whole world – even when it’s ugly.

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There are several scenes I could pick from, but there’s one specific one toward the end, where Andrew’s and Carey Mulligan’s characters are driving down a road at night. They pull over to the side of the road and Andrew’s character Tommy, gets out and starts to scream and cry.

They’ve just learned something horrible and instead of being the one that comforts, he’s the one in need of comforting and he allows himself to be held up and cared for.

As an aspiring actress, I love the dramatic moments, when my character gets to fly of the handle, but to actually do that while there’s a film crew surrounding you, lights pointing down on you, it takes courage. It takes vulnerability and forcing yourself to stay present and in the moment. Which of course I think Andrew does excellently here.

The Ugliness of The Social Network

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Another brilliantly executed piece of ugly acting comes from Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network.

When I sit down to watch this film, I know I’m in for an ugly ride. Hatred is ugly. Especially when it’s between besties. The backbone of it takes place in a conference room where Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg, sits with lawyers and on the other side of the room is his former best friend, Eduardo (Andrew), who is suing him.

In some ways it’s like a two hour argument (brilliantly written, of course, by the great Aaron Sorkin), but it’s still hard to watch. Especially, when these guys used to be best friends.

There’s one scene in particular where Eduardo has flown in for a meeting and party at the new Facebook offices, but he’s actually being forced out of his share in the company.

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What I find so compelling and ugly about this particular scene is how uncomfortable it is to watch. Fights are always ugly, but when it’s done at the business level in front of an entire room full of employees, it’s even tougher to watch. But Andrew does a terrifically ugly job (meaning it’s amazing). His focus as an actor and portraying this moment truthfully is what makes the scene so difficult to watch. He has an attention to detail in the inflection of his voice and the emotion that comes from what happens in the scene are really interesting to watch.

It’s an ugly moment, but the story would have lost a lot of it’s poignancy if this scene hadn’t been done well.

The Wait for Silence

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While I can only speculate at this point, I think Silence will be another singular effort in ugly acting by Andrew Garfield.

I can’t wait to see the film, but more importantly, I can’t wait to see what else this truly ugly actor takes on.

Final Thoughts

I realise every ugly moment I’ve showcased in this article surrounds the idea of crying, and while I do thing ugly acting is more than just being willing to cry on screen. I also think it’s one of the hardest things to do as an actor.

Crying is ugly. No one can cry beautifully. BUT it’s also hugely important for us to love it, because it has healing properties. We all need a little healing in our lives. So when I decided to add Andrew Garfield to my list of ugly actors, I thought it was important to highlight this aspect of his acting in the hopes it reminds all of us to be ugly and vulnerable, but especially to the men in our lives.

It takes a truly powerful and strong man to cry.

The Visual World of Wes

Written by Josias Jensen.

There are very few directors that have an instantly recognisable visual style. Wes Anderson is definitely one of them.

You may or may not be a fan of the quirky and whimsical style of his movies. However, one thing he is undeniably excellent at, is using Production Design to tell us about the world and characters of his stories.

Anderson frequently collaborates with Production Designers: David Wasco, Mark Friedberg, and Adam Stockhausen. Together they manage to fill every shot with plenty of detail and information for us to gain a deeper understanding of the characters of the story, and the world they inhabit.

As the Production Designer on The Out of the Woods Project, I was greatly inspired by Anderson’s body of work.

I would like to examine a few ways in which Anderson uses production design, to give us a deeper understanding of the characters in his films and the journeys they go on.

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Attaching meaning to props

In The Darjeeling Limited, the three brothers carry with them suitcases from their father. Anderson uses these props to show the audience how the three brothers let go of their past, and the grudges they have held against each other and other members of their family.

The brothers walk away from their father’s funeral with much hurt and emotional baggage. The suitcases symbolise this emotional baggage. In the suitcases, they bring a few items with them that used to belong to their father as well.

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Throughout most of the film they haul around all of their suitcases wherever they go. This is somewhat comedic, as they are carrying more than they need and they often get help just to carry it.

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By simply attaching meaning to specific props Anderson shows us that the characters have changed, because of how they interact with these props. They have let go of their emotional baggage.

You can do something similar in your work by creating a strong association between a prop and a certain person or event. You can show the audience something about the character and their journey, simply by showing how they interact with that prop throughout the film. Do their interactions with this prop change as they grow as a character? Do they stay the same?

Contrast

The family house in The Royal Tenenbaums is rich in detail and in almost every single shot we can learn something about the people that live there.

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In the prologue of the film, we get introduced to the three children of the Tenenbaum family. In this shot we see how Chas has arranged his room. It is devoid of color and it doesn’t really look like a kids room at all, but more like an office. Chas has grown up fast and left his childhood naivety behind him.

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In contrast to the previous shot is a shot of his brother Richie’s room also from the prologue. The room, the toys, and the clothes are just like a normal kid’s. This is a great contrast between the shot of Chas’ room that we saw earlier and this one. We can see that they are two very different people and later we also realise how they each have very different relationships to their father.

Chas feels overlooked by his father and there is great emotional distance between them. This is one of many reasons he grows up too fast. Richie is clearly the father’s favourite, he feels cared for and he gets to be a kid.

We can’t tell all of this just from the production design but it adds to and enriches their story.

I encourage you to experiment with contrast in the production design in your own work. You can show a character’s change or lack of change by having the environment they live in, or the clothes they wear, change or stay the same. You can highlight the differences or similarities between characters by showing them in vastly different or similar environments or clothes.

Characters, relationships and colours

Anderson’s attention to detail is especially evident in his use of colours. Rarely, if ever, will you see anything in frame that doesn’t fit in a carefully calculated color palette.

In The Royal Tenenbaums, we can learn quite a bit about the characters of Richie and Margot, and their complicated relationship, in the colour choices. Anderson’s use of color is a bit complex, but this is how I interpret his use of the colours of green, blue and brown related to these two characters.

In the prologue, we see that Richie’s room is blue and green. I assume these colours represent a sense of familiarity and childhood comfort to him.

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In the film, Royal Tenenbaum, Richie’s father and Margot’s adopted father, lets everyone in his family know about his deteriorating health in order to gather them all under one roof again. When Margot meets with Richie after hearing the news, she steps out of a green line bus that has a green banner. The airport banners above Richie are blue.

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Here Anderson uses those two colours to show how she represents something familiar and comfortable to him. Coincidentally, he is also in love with her and the color of green can both represent something healthy and obsessive.

Throughout the film, Margot frequently wears outfits of those colours and both her and Richie often wear browns. The colour of brown is something they share.

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In another scene Margot has locked herself in her bathroom distancing herself from her husband. She is wearing brown, and the bathroom is green and blue. This represents how she longs for the familiarity of being close to Richie (his colours) while being removed from her husband.

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In the tent scene where Richie confesses his love to Margot, they are in a brown tent and both of them are wearing colours within the blue and green pallette. Here the green and blue colours represent them finding comfort and familiarity with each other. The brown represents their similarity and bond.

You can apply this to your own work by attaching meaning to a specific colour.

You can use that specific colour to show the audience what the character’s desire is, as well as where the character is in their journey. Have they reached their goal yet? Have they returned to familiarity? Have they entered something completely new and unfamiliar?

These are just a few of the principles and ideas Anderson and his Production Designers explore in their work. Production Design is easy to forget in low budget independent filmmaking, but it really makes or breaks a production. If what you put in front of the camera doesn’t tell the story of your movie, it will not be as strong of a visual narrative.

I encourage you to be inventive and creative in your use of production design in your own work!

 

Shaken, Not Stirred: How to Make Drinks For Film

Written by Josias Jensen.

“I’ll have a vodka martini…”

Many memorable scenes in cinema feature drinks as an important prop. However, as some of you may already know, the actors rarely, if ever, drink the real deal. There are several reasons for this: it’s cheaper to make a replica, it is easier to access, and you don’t have to worry about your actors having a bit too much…

In this article I will show you step by step how to make inexpensive and photorealistic champagne and whisky substitutes.

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Black Tea is Your Friend

One ingredient that will help you make a lot of drink substitutes is inexpensive black tea or earl grey. Brew a cup or pot of black tea using several bags, making your brew much darker and more bitter than you would normally drink. Keep the bags in for at least 10 min to let the tea turn dark.

You will use this cup or pot of strong tea for colouring the whisky/champagne substitute. Find a small cup, jug, or anything else that is easy to pour from.  Set this aside so that it is ready to access later.

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Sparkle!

For the champagne substitute you will need to buy sparkling water or any other soda drink that has no colour.

If you need more than one glass, gently pour the sparkling water into a large glass pitcher or bowl making sure you don’t lose too much of the fizz.

Gradually pour small amounts of the black tea in the glass pitcher/bowl until it has just the right colour. Don’t rush it. If you end up putting too much in and the mixture gets too dark, you will have to add in more sparkling water to balance it out.

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If you need one or two glasses, you can pour the sparkling water directly in the glass and very gently pour in some of the black tea. You will only need a very small amount of black tea to colour a single glass of sparkling water.

If you want to make a white wine substitute the process is the exact same, but with water instead of sparkling water.

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On the Rocks, Please…

For the whisky substitute the process is similar. Instead of using sparkling water you will use water. To get the colour of whisky down you will need to use a bit more tea than for the champagne substitute. Gently mix it till it has just the right tint.

For both drinks, I would advise you to have a look at a photo of actual champagne or whisky to match it as closely as possible.

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Presentation is key

In order to make it truly believable, use the kind of glassware you would use specifically for serving whisky or champagne. Whisky in a normal glass looks very similar to many other drinks, but as soon as it is served in the right kind of glass, we believe it is whisky and not just apple juice or ice tea.

Dressing your drink the right way will add to the believability as well. For example, you would never fill a glass of whisky all the way to the top, but rather about one quarter or fifth of the glass.

You can also add a couple of ice cubes in your whisky substitute.

Black tea is a great and inexpensive ingredient that can be used in making many different drink substitutes. I encourage you to experiment with simple ingredients and getting the presentation right rather than spending lots of money on actual drinks.