Posts Tagged ‘acting’

Montaire Filmworks

October 4, 2011

Montaire Filmworks Releases Its First Project!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLTz7TcDKLw

This short video for the Women in History Theater Project is a first release by Montaire Filmworks: a small, independent film studio east of Seattle in the foothills of the Cascades.  More are in the works. 

This first effort features the acting of Lyn Coffin, written monologues of historical figures by Leonard Goodisman, and the Direction/Photography/and Editing of Carl Nelson… plus a little Schumann Music by Peter Frankl.

From the Editor’s Perch

August 6, 2011
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

From the Editor’s Perch

March 20, 2011

We’re All Crazy!!!

 
 

And Finding Friends Where We Can

 

“The first thing you need to know,” a prominent and widely respected psychiatrist I read, wrote, “is that we’re all nuts”.  I wish I could remember his name, but the statement was so outrageous that it has stuck in my mind several years after I read it.  That, and the fact that I liked the idea so much.  It takes a lot of the pressure off, when you think about it. 

And, it properly places all those ‘Realists’. 

You want something real, Mr. Hard-headed Realist?  Pick up a rock.  It will conform to all the laws of physics.  It will not disappear, nor morph into something new, or suddenly rise out of sight.  Nothing unexpected will happen.  And my guess is, like Reality, it doesn’t even know we’re here.  And like Reality – my second guess is – it doesn’t even know it’s here.  The only way in which it is not like Reality, it seems, is that lots of ‘Realists’ don’t worship it.  Which is puzzling, to be sure, because it’s a lot easier to find a rock – than to describe Reality.

It is fashionable currently to genuflect before the glories of the Scientific Mind and to scorn the ‘Idiocy of Religion’ and all their in-house crazies who currently are held to fan all the problems of our Shrinking World.  But how do we know what’s crazy?  What makes doing or thinking one thing more, or less, crazy than doing or thinking another?  Most of us take our cue from Christ, “By their fruits you will know them.”   We generally say someone is acting or thinking ‘crazy’ if they are doing or saying something which doesn’t provide a good outcome.  So, the Scientist retreats to his/her laboratory to perform all of these ‘crazy’ experiments… until the outcome of what he/she has discovered is found to be very beneficial.  Aha!  He/she was never crazy at all!  All along they were employing the Scientific Method.  But, likewise, the Religious Figure, retreats into the cloisters of his/her faith to perform all of these crazy rituals and to perpetuate the teaching of all of these preposterous ideas… until the outcome is to have spawned an enormously successful society; a society which by nearly all human measure far outstrips whatever had previously come before.  Aha!  So why does it not seem that they were not crazy after all but were employing the ‘Religious Method’.  Like I tell my Scientifically biased – and rather rude friends: “When the cult of the EverReady Bunny creates another Western Civilization – you can believe I will take it very seriously.”

You wonder why people join Cults?  You wonder why people lose their lives fighting over the most inane notions?  You wonder why people run off into the desert after some charismatic figure?  It’s very simple:  We’re all crazy!  That’s what separates us from the rocks!!!   If you’re wondering why the populace will follow crazy people, it’s because crazy is the energy we run on.  That’s my take.  And the more crazy energy you have, the more followers you may get.

This is certainly true of the stage.  When directing actors, one of the things a mediocre actor often doesn’t understand is that merely ‘becoming that character’ isn’t giving us a great deal.  “Congratulations,” I feel like saying, “you’ve become a rock.  You’re right up there on the same level as a piece of furniture on the set.  You will be just as interesting as the playwright has written you… but no more.” 

If you want to give a memorable performance as an actor, you have to infuse that character with life.  Life is not a rock.  Life is not a chair.  Life is not a described situation with dialogue.  Life is an inspired situation.  You have to bring to that character some of your own ‘craziness’.  That’s how we’ll know you’re human… and give you our estimate.

Photo and Opinion by Carl Nelson

 


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