From the Editor’s Perch

I’ve Sweated This Out

 

Look at That Space Above Your Sofa!

“Every time your Editor posts a note the readership drops off.  So I’ve waited until we’re safely into the double digits before tilting these words at my latest windmill…

It has always seemed to me that one of the reasons for Art, is that it makes that space on the wall above our sofas look more interesting.  No harm.  The reverse of this, however, is that if you do purchase a work of Art to hang above your sofa – you do so because you would rather look at that Art than at a blank wall.

Which brings me to a criticism of actors which I make after directing on several occasions for the local stage.  Contemporary actors often seem to feel that if their acting embodies their character, then they have done their job.  But consider this for a minute in light of what I’ve said above:  The wall above your sofa perfectly embodies that wall.  A brick embodies a brick; a stone a stone…  The list, of course, is infinite.  Everybody you will pass on the street downtown perfectly embodies themselves.  Is everybody on the street interesting to watch?  Or are they interesting enough to PAY to watch?  …you’re right to keep a tight grip on your wallet.

A common feeling in the acting community is that ‘since I am good at what I do, I should be paid for it’.  The Producer’s reply to this demand is, “When you make me money, I will pay you money.”   This attitude among actors is a prime reason that so many fairly good shorts and films that get produced locally go nowhere – to the frustration of all involved.  The actors all feel they’ve done their job.  But by the producers benchmark they have failed.  And I think they fail because the actors have not recognized that they are in sales.  It is not enough to be a character; you have to SELL that character.  When you’ve sold your character, the person in the audience says to themselves, “I’m with THEM.”  That’s a fan, and that’s a paying customer. 

In most local films, I’ve seen very few actors who are willing to sell.  And when there is one who does, the character is so often so peripheral that there is no place for the audience to follow them to.  This common artistic mentality on the part of local actors seems to be the same with failed salespersons everywhere:  “ I showed up.  I worked hard.  I presented the product very professionally and credibly to lots of people.”  These hopeful ‘salespeople’ never realize that they weren’t selling; they were having conversations.  Selling is making people act.  Selling is making people want to DO something.  Selling is WANTING and ASKING and CLOSING.

I recently saw the film, “Aliens and Cowboys” (or “Cowboys and Aliens” – one or the other?).  In the first portion of the movie I was surprised that Daniel Craig struck me as the better actor, and that Harrison Ford seemed to measure up short by comparison.  He just didn’t quite feel right in his character.  Daniel Craig is so strongly carved as to feel almost feral, and he certainly was riveting to watch as the tough, violent, lone Westerner.  But in the latter half of the movie, as soon as Harrison Ford softened and produced his famous wizened, half-smile – my immediate reaction was, “I’m with him.”  Harrison Ford knows how to sell himself (and his characters).  There is a reason for his box office success.”  – Editor

Photo by Anonymous

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One Response to “From the Editor’s Perch”

  1. yacman Says:

    It’s a hard lesson in life that even if you work hard and are very good and passionate about your endeavors that that is far from a guarantee at any kind of commercial success. I might be a genius at digging holes and refilling them, but I doubt anyone would pay to watch me in this task. Ultimately, it comes down to marketing. For example Walt Whitman and Vincent van Gough were artistic successes and commercial failures; whereas the Spice Girls and New Kids On the Block will be quickly forgotten–but they made millions.

    The world keeps spinning regardless.

    Yacman

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