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Help! I've been asked to act in a short film. ;) ;)


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#1 Morgan Peline

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 01:46 AM

I've been asked by a third year cinematography student (who is directing an excercise) at Beijing Film Academy to act as an escaped South American convict!

I've agreed to do it as obviously I have always been a frustrated actor and will certainly be discovered once any famous directors see this film eventually. But now all I can think of is all the times I muttered under my breath about how bad an actor was! I'll just have to keep telling myself 'don't act, just be, don't act, just be...'.

Stanislavski here I come!

Do you think I can get away with telling the director the he can only film
me on my left side and then keep asking him every five minutes: 'What's my motivation again?'

:)
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#2 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 03:03 AM

Do you think I can get away with telling the director the he can only film
me on my left side and then keep asking him every five minutes: 'What's my motivation again?'

If you want to stop getting these pesky acting job offers and concentrate on your DP career, this is exactly what you should do. Also, show up on your first day grossly overweight, loudly admit that you never read the script, and insist that you be allowed to rewrite your dialogue. Hey, it worked for Brando. ;)
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#3 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 03:37 AM

I've been asked by a third year cinematography student (who is directing an excercise) at Beijing Film Academy to act as an escaped South American convict!

I've agreed to do it as obviously I have always been a frustrated actor and will certainly be discovered once any famous directors see this film eventually. But now all I can think of is all the times I muttered under my breath about how bad an actor was! I'll just have to keep telling myself 'don't act, just be, don't act, just be...'.

Stanislavski here I come!

Do you think I can get away with telling the director the he can only film
me on my left side and then keep asking him every five minutes: 'What's my motivation again?'

:)


Spencer Tracy once had some good advice on acting-"Know your lines and don't bump into the furniture" Having taught acting and directed several things often with inexperienced actors I would also add, believe what you're doing, concentrate on the situation and the other actors not yourself, let yourself react to what's happening and what's being said without thinking about it and always be aware of where the camera and your marks are in the back of your mind and your should be fine. 90% of casting for film is choosing someone who is already very much like the character on the page so in this case since the director chose you for the role, I'd recommend just playing a heightened version of yourself in that situation. That way you won't have to ask 'What's my motivation again?', you'll just have the proper motivation without thinking about it. :)
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#4 John Sprung

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 12:25 PM

Stanislavski here I come!

If you can, find David Mamet's little book "True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor". The main reason to read Stanislavsky any more is to know what Mamet's talking about.



-- J.S.
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#5 Glen Alexander

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 01:29 PM

Stanislavski here I come!


To paraphrase Dustin Hoffman imitating Robert DuVal
"Stanislavski's full o' poop! Blah, blah, blah.... Meisner, Meisner, sense memory, say the words!" :lol:
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#6 Glen Alexander

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 01:37 PM

If "method" or whatever works for you, use it.

For me, I find the performers I've been interviewing all of had good training at great schools but to me they lack a sense of reality so the ones who get serious consideration, I specify a particular book on buddhism (relates to my film) then audition. Out of many, the few who "get it" are remarkable.

I watched a performance at a school in Paris of the final year students and if someone is looking for the next Jim Carrey/Jerry Lewis great physical comedy, this guy is it, send me PM for details.

Edited by Glen Alexander, 11 June 2008 - 01:39 PM.

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#7 Morgan Peline

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 12:31 AM

The closest I've gotten to a 'method' when on that side of the camera was making sure I didn't scratch the lens if I was cleaning it. I wouldn't know my left method from my right meisner... ;)
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#8 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 03:52 AM

It's always useful to have acted a bit, at the very least you can understand the actor's problems. Michael Caine wrote a very practical book on film acting. In the end, it seemed to come down to just think it and the camera will capture it.
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#9 Steve Phipps

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 07:02 AM

Michael Caine wrote a very practical book on film acting.

Caine had a piece of advice on physical technique that has always stuck with me, with respect to scene partners: Don?t change eyes. Look into one eye, and the eye that is closest to camera.

I think finding some kind of actor ?business? -- physical behavior that you can literally do -- is helpful. There?s the line of thinking that that kind of dimension can make your performance and character seem more ?real?, and all that. But I think, also, it keeps you from just ?parking and barking?, which can fall very flat. Also, it can keep you from gesticulating. Then again, I once had to swallow a pill during a scene (a prop pill -- a half-peanut), and was so nervous that I fumbled getting the aspirin bottle open, and even then, couldn?t manage to swallow the peanut once it was in my mouth. The ?pill? was still on my tongue when we hit my cue, and I just started chewing it, as a reflex. :)

Oh, and I have another one for you: I was offered a smaller-supporting part by a director friend, and I took the role without having read the play, or knowing much about my role or the cast, or any of that. So I read the play and discover that I am playing the love-interest/fiancé. So, okay. And it?s actually a pretty nice part. So, fine. So, I go to the first rehearsal and discover that the girl I have been cast with is very, very attractive. And as I?m looking through my part again, I realize that we will actually have an on-stage kiss. This acting thing might work out, I think. But the thing was, as we got closer and closer to that kiss -- the whole cast is just going through a table-read, but up on our feet, blocking things out -- I began to get extremely nervous. It began to feel like, it was my actual first kiss. I had something like stage-fright, times-two. And so I?m trying to subdue that, and rationally think my way through it. Be professional. And pages are rolling by at warp speed as we approach the moment. And so we get to the magic page, the line is approaching, I?m getting ready, the director stands up, the blocking is changed and the beat is dropped. Goodbye, kiss. :)
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#10 Morgan Peline

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 12:13 PM

I?m getting ready, the director stands up, the blocking is changed and the beat is dropped. Goodbye, kiss. :)

<_<

Oh no! I would have been really upset!

Well...if they can get hold of an actor to replace me I'm being promoted to DP...things happen quick round these parts! The director doesn't want to direct and DP himself as he's really short of time and as he has admitted to me, actually a frustrated director at heart... so I'm most likely going to shoot it for him.

Should be fun we're going all hand-held 'Babel' on it and I'm gonna get to use the new 16mm Vision3 500T for the first time (I haven't shot any film in ages!!!!!!!!Now I'm just panicking that I've forgotten how to use my light meters - I've become a video jockey recently)

...Have to say though, if he manages to get a replacement I am going to be a bit disappointed that I didn't my acting debut on the silver screen!
<_<

...Of course maybe my Director can operate, I can light and then I can still get to act...the great advantage of having two cinematographers shoot a film together!
:lol:
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#11 Salik Shah

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 12:08 AM

And so we get to the magic page, the line is approaching, I?m getting ready, the director stands up, the blocking is changed and the beat is dropped. Goodbye, kiss. :)

Sigh!
:lol:

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#12 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 02:29 AM

To paraphrase Dustin Hoffman imitating Robert DuVal
"Stanislavski's full o' poop! Blah, blah, blah.... Meisner, Meisner, sense memory, say the words!" :lol:


When I teach acting, I use a combination of Strasberg's version of Stanislavsky's technique a lot of the listening and reacting and relaxation stuff, Meisner's version of allowing the private self to be exposed and finding strong objectives and the obstacles within the scene that the character must achieve and overcome and Uta Hagen's 4th wall technique of the actor taking away the awareness of themselves and self involvement within a scene and allowing a reality to be created where the emphasis is on what is happing in that reality at that moment, creating a virtual 4th wall where the audience or camera cease to exist for the character, along with some of my own techniques thrown in but I also emphasis THERE IS NEVER ONE SINGLE WAY TO FIND THE CHARACTER!!! Even if it's the same actor on a different night and actually encourage my actors to read and study more modern teachers and techniques and use whatever works for them in a given situation or at a given moment. I even encourage the use of exterior technique where the character is built from the outside inward using physicality to find the inner truth, much like English classical actor training. The exercise and training of the actor's instrument, voice, body and mind is essential to becoming a good actor in my opinion.....Oh and stage kisses aren't nearly as sexy as you might think, sex scenes on film are even worse. B)

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 16 June 2008 - 02:33 AM.

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#13 John Sprung

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 02:55 PM

...Of course maybe my Director can operate, I can light and then I can still get to act...

It depends mostly on how big the part is. If it's fairly small, it could be reasonable for you to DP the whole show, and just get somebody to operate when you're also acting.




-- J.S.
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