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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Why You Shouldn’t Murder The Director

There have been many a time where I have been in situations on set where it was really easy to be mad at the director. There are just certain things directors do that can make it seem they couldn’t care less about us as actors.

 

The thing is, it’s ok.

 

Every director you come across will work differently, but for the majority of ones that I’ve worked with, on student-made short films, the focus is on the camera and shot and not so much on the actor or his performance. That being said, there are some things to keep in mind.

 

Trust the director

 

The director has a specific vision that he or she is trying to make come alive. They take the script the screenwriters make and turn it into their interpretation. They work long and hard to make sure that vision becomes a reality, and it’s our job as actors to trust that the director knows what he’s doing.

 

This was difficult for me on the first short film set I was apart of. Everyone was still getting a feel of set life and how to make a movie, and it was a pretty unpleasant experience. The actors would be in the lights too long and breaks were few and far between. Actually thinking back, we never got a break while on that set.

 

During the process I was pretty upset at the director, but I also knew it wasn’t my place to say how things should be run, and so I sat there under the lights, sweating my butt off.

 

The thing I learned, was even if the director makes a ton of mistakes, we shouldn’t worry, but trust he wants the best for us, because he wants us to give the best performance.

 

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All of that being said, it’s still tempting to push the director off a roof when no one is looking. But here’s another reason why you shouldn’t.

 

It’s just you and them

 

When it comes to an actor’s relationship with the crew there’s only one person you really interact with. You guessed it, the director. Well, them and occasionally the first assistant director.

 

I was acting on a short film about a guy who couldn’t cook to say his life. On that set I remember I was able to share exactly what I thought about my character, who he was and every intimate thing about him with the director. She also shared her vision for the character, this person who she created from the heart. We had a moment before filming where we sat down and shared what we both thought.

 

It was sweet.

 

To me, that is the beauty of the relationship between actor and director. We are both working in film to present truth and to create. They aren’t out to get us killed or hurt or make us feel bad. Most directors want to intimately create with us the story they have taken on themselves.

 

We are both unique artists, where the goal of the director and the actor are essentially the same. I wanted to write this blog because I know it’s easy to get angry at the director on a trying set. It’s easy to view the director negatively, especially if they don’t listen to our interpretation, but the thing is, we are here to serve.

 

To me, that is the beauty of the relationship between actor and director. We are both working in film to present truth and to create.

 

Actors are servants

 

It’s never easy to serve someone who asks you to do things you don’t like or things you are uncomfortable with doing. It can even be a blow to your pride if what you are suppose to do as your character can seem humiliating. But when it comes to acting, we need to learn to let go of our pride and do what the director asks of us.

 

The beautiful part about serving the director is that in most cases, the director and actor are able to communicate what they think is truthful for a particular scene. It’s a special relationship where both are able to give their interpretations of something.

 

I worked with a director while doing a short film about suicide where the communication between him and us actors was actually really intimate and sincere. We were able to see his vision for the script and we were able to show him how we had developed our characters.

 

The unity between actor and director can be very strong if both are willing to share their visions with each other. So don’t murder the director. Instead choose to create with him. Here’s a picture of Christopher Nolan and Michael Caine chilling just like we should do with our director.

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Trust counters anger and frustration. At the end of the day, if you trust the director and the vision he has then you won’t want to murder him.
At the end of the day we are both here for the same reason. We both want to create a beautiful, truthful story. Even if it seems the director is out to get you and your little dog too, he’s not. He’s your friend. Don’t choose murder, choose friendship!

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)