Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 16th Oct 2012

Casey at the reunion telling bad jokes. Will a callback as the EMT. Ashley having a tough time in New York. Gaby and the Spanish study group.
DEBATE NIGHT!  Lots of takes and plenty of time to implement adjustments.  Don’t underestimate that skill.  Being able to hear direction and incorporate it immediately into a scene is a most impressive, absolutely necessary skill.  Doing multiple takes is a great way to exercise that challenge.

As usual the commentary was supportive and insightful.  The skill of being able to take adjustments starts with being able to listen to a director…. and to be able to talk and ask questions.  BUT most important is being able to listen constructively.  When we engage ourselves in conversation about our work we learn to listen and be flexible.

Gaby…

Your first take was connected and committed and clearly struck an emotional cord in the room.  But there is always a question of style…. And here… There’s an obvious difference in pace between Movies and TV/Gilmore Girls.  Remember this is all process.  What you found in your first take was the underlying emotional life of the character.  She deeply felt and thought about every beat of that monologue.  Each sentence was a thought and you supported those thoughts with emotional resonance.  BUT….. just like learning a piece of music…. we start slowly and build the connection and teach our bodies through repetition and muscle memory.  Then as we learn it…. we can let it rip and play the music at the pace that it is written….. and here that was Gilmore Girls.  So what you were doing is good process…. You laid the emotional foundation and connection and then you brought it up to speed.  The thought structure however was period to period.  You must as an actor assemble the sentences into thoughts.  A writer’s period does not mean the end of a thought.  BUT all that pales in comparison to the accomplishment of bringing an emotional openness and vulnerability to this character.  Typical man that I am…. I first thought her bitchy.  You eliminated that element and instead brought this wonderfully intelligent, sharp witted, yet warm and playful character… HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT !  Preparation?  Confidence?   Whatever it was…. do more of this.  You can do the tough intelligent women easily…. but when you add the warmth and openness that we saw last night…. it makes the character likable and approachable and fun and yes!  SEXY.  “Intelligence is the ultimate aphrodisiac and the sense of humor is the largest erogenous zone.”  This character was smart and playful and warm and sexy.  Killer combo!

Casey…

We saw some attractive calm maturity !  And that’s a quality that you’ll engage more with leading man material.  Tonight was a perfect example of the generic geek issue of late.  Here tonight…. You created a specific character rather than a more generic character/nerd.  A nerd doesn’t have to be young, goofy, ungrounded.  Any character can have a nerdish streak/quality.  I think that is what we were seeing tonight.  He was a unique character….  and he had nerdy characteristics…. but he was a specific guy rather than a bumbling young geek/nerd.  His “I’m trying to be a grown up” line was the center of this character.  This was a new way for you to approach nerds.  The breakdown said “Ferris Bueler jock” … whatever that means.  What you did instead was bring the character to you.  And that’s the right approach in pilots.  They want to see your sketch of this guy.  They want to see a character they can write for.   They don’t really know who this guy is until the actor walks through the door.  That’s why it’s so important that you’re specific.  My teacher used to say, “The more specific you are the more universal will be your characters.”  You worked through some takes and settled into a grove.  That’s good process.  So this geek/nerd ability that you have can be woven as a dominant or more subtle part of a character.  This was a new tone, a new part of your instrument that you used tonight.  Most rewarding !

Will…

Yes you took that adjustment/direction more easily than you have.  It’s evidence that your talent is growing.  So I have to ask…. What in your prep was different?  What made it easier?  We worked on finding an arch for this guy…. and you did.  So he went from irritated, to panicked, to angry.  This was a great lesson on emotional prep.  You did indeed tie into your own emotional base. You found that part of you that knows what it’s like to be wronged.  But like we said…. that tone has to be a reaction to the life in the scene.  Your rising panic in the second scene was a perfect example… and you augmented it with the stammering of his confusion.  Remember we’re trying to trigger the body into reacting to the the life of the scene.  Here we were working “outside-in”…… the verbal stumbling is a key which allows your body to understand what it needs to do.  It’s an appropriate behavior that was prompted by the scene.  Really you’re just adding life to the scene.  The writer described it as panic…. and you converted it to a life moment and engaged your own muscle memory of what it’s like to feel confusion and panic.  Is that a trick…. or a skill…. or a tool ?  Yes but it’s also creating life and that’s our job.

Ashley…

You were fearless and had fun.  That’s a lot to accomplish in a first class.  You jumped right in with a cold read and the progress you made was obvious. You journey went from an actor reading a script to a character involved in a complicated life.  And that’s a perfect description of what there is to learn in this arena.  You were seeing and exploring the life in the scene.  That’s what our craft is.  We have to take the words on a flat page and make them stand up and live.  The script is the road map.  It’s the writer’s best description of the life she/he thinks is in the scene.  We are the ones that have to live it and feel it and allow the audience to feel it with us.  There is a whole vocabulary of behavior and action and story telling that works on film…. and be best way to learn it is in front of a camera in an audition format.  Because if you can do it here…. you can do it on a set.  It was fun having you in class and I hope you’ll join us.