Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Improv to Overcome Nerves

Attended my bi-monthly improv get-together. Got in a lot of stage time. Did each improv game. Well, usually do, but think it was a smaller crowd then last few times. Seemed like I got up every other scene. Of course, when each game averages two scenes and you participate in each game...

Afterwards, one guy asked the MC about nerves. Said when he would think about getting up, he would get nervous. Wondered if it happened to everyone. MC said it does. I suppose he is right.

Do I get nervous? Yes. That is one of the whys I attend improv and participate. Not that nerves has ever been a major problem area for me. At least not as far as acting goes, as long as I keep things in perspective. Other areas of my life? Well...that's beyond the scope of this blog.

Nerves aside, doing improv builds up my acting arsenal. I am getting up and performing, making character choices, making adjustments... I've heard stories about basketball players practicing jump shots beyond what is required. And I don't mean half dozen shots in six different spots. These players are generally the score leaders.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Weekend Vacation

Spent the weekend at a resort. Did nothing acting related. OK, I caught up on my reading of BackStage newsletters. But otherwise, no checking emails, no checking acting sites, no doing my personal acting study stuff...nothing. Did not give acting a single thought; at least none that was entertained.

Was this good for my acting career. Yes, because it allowed me to step out of the daily grind of both my acting and non acting life. I was starting to feel overwhelmed. Now, I feel relaxed and ready to hit things anew.

Did I worry about missing out on an acting opportunity? Nope. Did I realize it was possible? Yeah. Does this mean I was leaning more toward the hobby side of the hobby/career? Nope. If I was so worried that I was unable to get way for the weekend, I do not have a proper perspective. It would be like a car salesman never taking a vacation because of the missed commissions.

And yes, I did book out.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Scream Queen Observations

This weeks Scream Queens was about sexuality.

The biggest tip was not to try to be sexy. I suppose if you are playing an incompetent prostitute... Sexual is not about arousal. It is about confidence. The actress who won the elimination challenge focus on the horror aspect. She said she tuned everything else out and visualized her victim. Other actresses concentrated on how to come across sexy.

One actress seems to be hot one day and cold the next when dealing with the technical aspects. She was called out on it and was basically told she was out of time. Wasn't eliminated, but suspect, baring elimination immunity or another actress majorly screwing up, she will be going home the next cold spell.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Scream Queen Acting Observations

Wasn't able to watch last week's Scream Queens due to DVRing issues until last night. Anyway, the acting observations I made deal with attitude and taking on the character.

The exercise for the week was crying on cue. First round, no tears. They were all trying to cry. Anyone ever try to cry? NO! Trying to cry because the script says your character cries does not count. The character wouldn't be trying to squeeze out a tear. The circumstances are what produces the tear. The character is crying because her puppy died or her long lost brother returned home. Second round, the actresses were given an emotional story to personalize. Personalize because, well, we have all driven past accident scenes. Probably glanced over out of curiosity, thought how terrible and went about our day. I highly doubt that would be the response if we realized that smashed up car belonged to a loved one.

One actress was in the bottom the first two weeks. This week she won both the elimination safe challenge and the performance challenge. Winning both for the week is a rarity. The difference? She incorporated what the judges told her and put herself into the character. The actress that went home was overacting. I don't mean broad gestures for a close-up overacting. I mean a watch my pieces of business to stand out overacting. The difference was the attitude of these two actresses. The first had an attitude of I am going to take what I've been told and I am going to improve myself. The result was the first delivering a performance that greatly exceeded what she was capable of delivering just the previous week. The second had an attitude of how can I stand out and deliver what they want. The result was the second putting off nervous energy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Developing Good Sleep Habits

Need to work on my physical health. Not that I have major health issues or something. Just need to develop better habits in the department of eating, sleeping, exercising. Biggest motivation for getting to bed at a decent hour is an early audition or call time. (Filmmakers, help me out by casting me in your films. Prefer paid speaking roles.) Also need to remember that much of the things I stay up to work on can wait until tomorrow. The result of going to bed at a decent hour will probably be accomplishing what I do staying up and then some. While not fighting tiredness. It would also help my eating and exercising habits. Stay up late; get up late; miss breakfast... Also, hitting the gym is not very appealing when I am tired. The "going to bed" habit definitely needs to take top priority. The other things should then fall into place.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Voting for 48HFF Films

Recently blogged about attending the 48 Hour Film Festival Screenings. So, how do I decide who I think the top three are? Using a deck of playing cards, I randomly draw...kidding!

Obviously, if I was involved, beyond being in the pool of available actors, it's an automatic vote.

Things that count against you:
  • Turning film in late. Would need to totally blow all other films out of the water.
  • Major technical issues. Notice I said major. That 10 seconds of no picture or the 30 seconds of audio/visual being out of sync are not vote killers.
  • If the sexual content stops just short of porn or 50% of the dialogue is the F-bomb or other lettered word; vote killer.
  • Being in genre voted for at previous screening. If I already voted for a sci-fi, but not a drama and I am debating between the two, drama will probably get the vote. This is if I am debating between the two. If sci-fi was way better than drama, sci-fi gets the vote even thought I already voted for a sci-fi.
  • Using inanimate objects as actors. If credits listed several actors as the voices of X, Y, and Z, film would be weighed the same as actual actors. But usually Fred and Mary Hammersly do all the male & female voices, respectively. As well as being producer, director, writer, editor...

Things that count for you:

  • Having someone I know work on the project. Needless to say, the better I know said individual and the more respect I have for them, the more points. Would need to be able to somewhat justify voting for the film if the person was not involved, but their involvement will erase a lot of sins.
  • Drawing me into the film. If the actors are able to get me to care about and believe the characters; major points.
  • Also, major points for 1. moving me emotionally 2. coming up with an excellent storyline and 3. overall package: acting, script, cinematography, editing..all very important.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

48 Hour Film Festival

Watched the first two groups of the 48 Hour Film Festival. My film was in the first group. Of course I invited my family. And of course all the films that made gratuitous use of F bombs or was heavy in sexual content were in my group. It was pretty easy to vote for my three favorites or two since I am obviously going to vote for my film.

Why couldn't my film have played with the second group? While the occasional F bomb was dropped, they were more in line with what I would show my family. The second group was a bit harder to vote for. Could have gone several different ways.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Scream Queen Observations

This weeks Scream Queens acting observations: (Heavy on character choices.)

1. It is not necessary to play yourself. This week was playing the evil woman. I'm going to assume that all the contestants are actually very nice people. One actress was unable to commit to the character because she did not have the experience to draw on. So...you've never attacked someone with a knife or questioned their right to exist to their face? I would hope not! Like the coach said during the class: "It doesn't have to be true."

2. Subsequent notes from observation #1: Drawing on personal experience is great, but it nor any other method is a catch all for all character development. Also, what is said during the acting exercise is not necessarily the speaker's true feelings. The recipient should realize this and leave it in the room. (Even if it is true and negative...so what!)

3. If the scene ends with you killing your date, don't start out psycho. No one is going to go home with psycho. I don't care what they are sexually into. The audience needs to believe that your date would be there. Start out as someone who is likely to get a date home. (That does not necessarily mean be sexy.)

4. If you have a strong accent or dialect, work on getting rid of it. It will draw the audience out of the scene. Granted, if it is clearly established that the character is from that area, the accent/dialect might work. But it would be limiting.

5. Just because you have consistently brought good acting to the table does not mean you can relax. You should be striving for great, to bring more to the table. Those actors not up to your level are working on improving their skills. If you're not doing likewise, you will soon be asking them for advice on taking your career to the next level.

6. Be bold in making character choices. It is better to make a wrong choice than no choice. Of course, a good choice is even better. One actress played the scene referenced in #3 in a way that made the judges think of the psycho as a Hannah Montana type. Bad acting choice. If it had been a Miley Cyrus type...Just kidding. Another did not commit to any choice. Guess who went home: consistently making bad character choices or doesn't make a choice. HINT: Refer to second sentence in paragraph.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Acting Observations from Scream Queens

Set the DVR to record VH1's Scream Queens. Why? Because it is great for picking up or reconfirming acting tips, etc. OK, I admit, watching scream princesses compete to become queen is on the enjoyable side. But that would be a if I happen to catch it scenario. And there are many reasons, all irrelevant to this blog, that I might miss the actual airing. For those unfamiliar w/the format, there is two challenges, the safe from elimination contest, and the challenge to see who gets eliminated and who is queen of the week. Also, an acting class. The contestants get to watch each other - either in the room or on monitors in another room.

Acting observations, etc. from the pilot episode:

1. Remember what the scene is about. If you wake up from a Freddy Kruger-ish dream and discover your significant other is not in bed, don't make where's my S.O. the main focus. Oh, you're being attacked by Freddy. I wonder where your lover is is probably not the audience reaction to go for.

2. As an actor you know what is going to happen. The character does not. Using the Freddy example, until Freddy actually reaches out, the character thinks it was a dream and they are awake. It is important to convey the character's knowledge, not the actor's.

3. Actors do play mind games with each other. I saw this in the safe from elimination challenge results. One actress decided to point out to the winner why her winning the challenge was a minor success (she was safe from elimination for the week after all) and not something to build up her acting confidence.

4. When you are on set, be on set. False starting several times is probably not a good thing. Hint: The correct start time is when the director says "action". Yes, that actually happened. It was the safe from elimination contestant. The judges pointed out that normally it would result in calls to get you replaced. Also, be able to register when the director explains the shot, gives adjustments, etc.

5. Leave the character some place to go. If the scene is you walking into a room looking for your S.O. and discovering that your S.O. is part of a Satanic cult, do not walk in like you are expecting to find something bad. One actress decided to enter like her boyfriend had run into the room wearing nothing but whip cream. She went into the room happy. Other actresses entered like they heard a noise and where looking for a prowler. Whip cream actress was named queen of the week. (I'm pretty sure this involves things other than bragging rights, but can't remember what.)

48 Hour Film Festival

This weekend I participated in the 48 Hour Film Festival. Have signed up to be on teams in previous years, but this is the first time I was cast. A very enjoyable experience. (Of course, that's almost a given for being on set.)

Admittedly, I probably have some bias, but I thought it was a great script. Everyone did a great job. We wrapped filming only an hour later then scheduled. This was doing multiple takes, medium shots, close-ups, angles etc.

Makes me realize that, as an actor, I have one of the easier on set jobs. Notice that I said easier, not easy or less important. I still have to make character choices and give production something to work with.

However, I am not coming up with a workable script, making sure all need shots are gotten or putting together the final edit. I just need to be concerned about my character and his scenes, not every character and every scene.

Production was developing the script, etc. well before my call time. After wrapping, production had to edit and do all that good stuff. Granted, the time line is greatly abbreviated for the 48 Hour contest, but it is the same format for other productions.