BU Film School

Friday, February 24, 2006

FT 706 Lecture: Tuesday, September 23

Three roles redux
Abby got the circle, with one strong vote for Frances. Purpose of exercise: honesty about yourself, see who watches movies, empathy with actors, understanding of how difficult it is to find perfect person for a given role. Shortcut to describing role: "Jack Nicholson as a teenager." Also describes person who doesn't exist -- easier to deal with.

The casting director
Up until 40 years ago, no casting director got credit. Even then, way below the line (directors, stars, etc. above the line). Now casting directors above line, even take executive producer credit on indie films. Casting director, not agent. Agent works for talent, paid on commission, job is to get stars, directors, etc. hired on movies. Casting director hired by film, paid by producers. Only job is to figure out what's best for film.

Feedback -- be specific!
Specificity. Vague feelings/evaluations don't help.

Exercise: being vs. doing
First part of exercise: class divided into two groups (#1, #2). Group #1 gets up in front of group #2, stands in line. "You look at us, we look at you." Group #2 take notes. Groups switch places.

First set of notes on group #1: Mike twiddling with pen, tapping pen. Bob -- hands -- shifts feet -- laughs, clears throat. crosses arms, slight swaying side to side. Erin -- looking round. Christine -- standing still at ease, relaxed, two fingers rubbing against each other. David -- hands crossed in front, behind back.

Notes on group #2: relax, breathe, observe. No need to fidget. Make eye contact. Don't freeze up. Yellow sneakers. Light not as bright as thought it would be. Intent faces. Quiet. Pen scritchings.

Second part of exercise: group #1 gets back up. Task -- count tiles on ceiling. If lose track, start over; if finish, start over. Group #2 again takes notes. Then groups switch places.

Second set of notes on group #1: Christine -- arms crossed -- concentrated frown. Erin -- shades eyes. Mike -- steps away, more pen business. David -- staring around, mouth open. Bob -- looks around -- holds up hand -- count with hands -- straightens shirt, squints against light. Mike -- arms behind him, hands laced. Erin -- turns around, figures counting. Bob -- index finger pointing down.

Thoughts while up second time: count, count, count. Squint against light. Start over. Etc.

First time up, what most of us think acting is. Very aware of myself, hope don't do wrong thing. Second time up, awareness moved from inside body (self-directed) to outside body (outer-directed). 1st time being, 2nd time doing. Think of acting as doing -- do shit to feel shit, not other way around. Emotions byproduct of success/failure of action.

There are things in life that can only be learned experientially. Acting is one of them.

Brief history of acting training
Go back 150 years, people would go see an actor for declamatory gesture, etc. Turn of century in Europe, three things -- Freud in Austria, Chekhov in Russia, Stanislavski in Russia. Stanislavski worked with Moscow Art Theatre, moved by works of Freud -- work from inside out, instead of reverse. Syncs well with Chekhov's plays -- beginning of modern drama. "Three Sisters" -- at beginning of play, want to go to Moscow. At end of play, want to go to Moscow.

Stanislavski writes books, first of which is called "An Actor Prepares" (also "Building a Character", "Creating a Role" and "My Life in Art"). Not about what characters are doing, but why. Goes to U.S. -- met by people who will form the Group Theatre in 30s. Stella Adler, who founded the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting. Bobby Lewis, Sanford Meisner. Lee Strasberg, who founded the Actors Studio.

Stanislavski didn't mean his theory to become a system. Strasberg organized a system, the Method. Teaches in '40s, '50s, '60s, became dominant theory.

Most people in film follow Meisner, who founded the Neighborhood Playhouse. All these people started with Stanislavski. Difference: what is essential for creation of emotional reality? Strasberg: sense memory. Adler: specifics of character creation (waling around with cane all the time) -- spawns Michael Chekhov, who talks about psychological gesture.

Meisner: listening and responding. Most effective way to begin to build reality.

Repetition exercise
Kelley's variation of repetition exercise. A lot harder than initially think it is, will figure it out.

Two people come up, look at each other, make private notes. Think of sentence about other person -- observation. Say sentence sin turn. Toss eraser back and forth.

Repeating, not responding. Job is to give back exactly what other person just gave. Point to repeat what just received.

Tossing, receiving (what did I just get?), holding. Send back exactly what you think you just got.

A/B -- response. A/A -- repetition.

Assume that there's something about you that you need to change to make exercise work.

Last line -- little tweak. Repeat other person. 21, 33 -- 33. (Repeat not content-wise, but emotion/objective-wise.)

Exercise trickier than it seems. Focus in on one another. Observers need to watch more closely.

David -- inflection getting higher. Erin -- gets to point, then stops.

Emphasis: yóu are wearing ... then phrase tails off.

Looking, holding, considering.

Write it down -- your vote. Can't say "I don't know". Forces you to organize thoughts, be truthful.

1st Nathan line -- questioning, odd, inviting explanation. 1st Christine -- matter-of-fact observation. 2nd Nathan line -- matched. Third exchange -- Nathan questioning.

Deadpan (negative connotation) vs. animated (positive connotation).

Nathan -- challenged Christine.

Nathan/Christine: growing emphasis on yellow/plaid -- Christine suddenly ramped down.

Notes on Mike: glasses, balding, green shirt, grinning, a little self-conscious, fidgety (kept beginning to take notes rather than continuing to observe). Yellow legal pad. Boston born/bred. Sneakers. Scribbing a lot. Chewing gum.

Why repeat yourself? It's easy, comfortable. "This is what I said, I'll repeat it until you get it right."

Technorati: , , , ,

Comments: Post a Comment