Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 5/28/13

Seven of us… Aaron being rejected by her stupid boy friend. Jared working on a project he’s shooting as the small town doctor. Casey the comic book creator. Lauren working on a scene she auditioned for Longmeir as a train hopping gutter punk. Will working on a scene for a movie he’s doing… his first detective. And Jared auditing.
If there was a theme tonight it was getting your body into the scene.  “When your body knows where it is and what it’s doing….. It knows how to act.”  And if your body feels like its in a CD’s office instead of being in the scene….. then you’ll be nervous and unbelievable.  We are empathetic animals and if you are uncomfortable we will feel it.  If your prep can thrust/ease/marinate your body into the scene then we can empathetically live in the scene with you.  That’s our craft.  If we as actors as performers believe that we are in the scene…. then the people who are watching can believe it too.

That was a nice class with some good work. Commentary was most helpful tonight.

As always…. I love it when you guys bring in scenes from projects you are working on.  But tonight Aaron and Casey both brought in challenging material from my library of scenes that was both fun and revealing. Choosing material is a challenge that can’t help but expand your knowledge of writing in general and for specific shows.  Find interesting material.  Work on it.  Perform it.  Move on to your next challenge/scene.  That’s a great map for how to train your talent.  Watching shows is great research too….. But your growth as an artist it should include reading scripts/material.  It all starts with a script.

Aaron…

“Leap and the net will appear.”  There is a point in your work…. your prep…. where you should put down the script and force yourself to listen and just be in the scene rather than channeling everything through the writing.  It’s just allowing yourself to be IN the life of the scene and reacting to what you’re seeing and hearing around you.  The “net” is the scenic life.  It’s constructed of the words and the circumstances and the character.  Casey was spot on in taking your script.  What a difference when you were forced to listen…. AND THINK.  Active listening is thinking.  If you are hearing with the character’s ears you are in essence thinking.  You were right on that transition point last night.  Your prep had taken you to the point where you had to “leap” in order to grow.  The places where you got lost in the scene(the potholes) were then the areas that needed further prep.  But those potholes are not a product of not being able to remember a line.  Rather they are moments that you doing understand what the character is thinking or doing.  They are moments where you don’t know what the life in the scene is.  Don’t insult your brain!  Don’t just start pounding lines when you hit a pothole.  Those moments are the sign markers for where you need to work.

Will…

Your first cop…. ahhhhh !  May there be many more.  So let’s get serious about his NY experience.  He did sex crimes.  That’s a dark world to choose to be in.  Bank robbery would be a vacation.  Maybe he burned out in NY.  Why did you leave for LA ? Where does he cary his gun. Has he had to shoot anyone?  Cause that is the single most determinant  factor in PTSD.  Is he ambitious and see the force as a springboard to political power(like Chief Braxton or Giuliani) or is he just a good cop and love what he does ?  How cocky is he ?  Does he really care about this mentor relationship or is he just shinning his boss on?  Does he watch lots of video camera footage of robberies ?  Can you walk around Hollywood and observe the street sex life that is there and involved him when he was in NY ?  When you walk into a bank now can you instantly case it out for security ?  Lots of actors arrange to do ride-alongs when they’re prepping a movie character.  Is that something you can do?

Yes, you should work the dialogue with a NY accent…. and then drop it… knowing some of it will remain.  The quality of the relationship with your “mentor” is most important.  It can be smart aleck based, or admiring, or disdainful.  It’s a classic cop writing device… a source of humor, or tension, or a revelation of character, or revenge.  How is it structured here?

Tyler…

Your first class.  Welcome.  You were very early in your process…. a cold read really.  You were discovering as you were learning lines.  We immediately concentrated on the life in the scene.  Without life it was just words.  Once we found that living structure we started to see the relationships and the emotions…. the life.  We did that through relationships…. who each character was to you.  We are communal animals and life wouldn’t exist without relationships…. it would just be solitary confinement.  We discovered the importance of him being a not just a doctor but a healer.  Good opening revelations.  We all learn quickly in the beginning of our preparation process.  You were a comfortable presence and I hope you will come work out with us.  You can bring in scenes and we’ll work them out and watch them and get you ready to walk on set and kick butt…. or heal butt.

Lauren…

We whacked away at character tonight.  We grounded her physically in the train yard.  We found out that sitting was terrible for her energy.  We found a “what the fuck?” attitude that seemed to bring the whole thing together.  For me this is a specific kind of casting.  She’s  a sort of comic relief… threatening to kick the cops ass !  That’s funny !  I hate to say this but you may just be too pretty for this kind of girl.  I’ll be interested in how they cast her.   Let me know if/when you see this episode and we can see what choices they made.  But I bet she’s standing and fidgeting at a high energy.  I just don’t think that she can threaten to kick a cop’s ass unless she’s a real piece of work. You must remember to play when you’re prepping.  We’ve done several exercises in our privates and they have been revelations.  Today when we did her as an 8 year old !  Try and incorporate some of those choices and that kind of play into your process.  In privates you’ve correctly observed that it feels like you get into a rut.  Playing and exercises will break the syndrome and allow for more discovery.  This chick was a cousin of the “car hop” girl we worked on.  There both high energy slightly over the top characters in highly stylized situations.  But the car hop was more “a al mode”…. just a hipper girl.  You’re going to find yourself challenged to play this kind of chick.  Keep looking for this kind of material and we’ll develop a path that you can follow to accomplish these characters when you get them on such short notice.

Casey…

Just a good workout.  You found the musicality and the structure through the rapid fire dialogue.  It revealed character and relationship because only a certain kind of buddies can do that banter.  We talked about how listening can be thinking…. interesting concept.  If you are actively listening through the character’s POV…. then you are thinking.  At least that’s my opinion.  Also…. as you engaged the more active listening the character emerged.  It’s a feedback loop.  As you listen you gain character and as you gain character you listen better…. more actively and more character specific.  You “leaned into” his geekiness in the last takes.  I think that’s a good concept. Rather than going “full geek.”  It allows the character to evolve rather that just be washed over by one color… geek.  You are in great shape now, Casey. Scripts go right into your brain and you’re “leaping into the net.”  You’re forcing yourself to listen and live in the scene.  You do have an unfair advantage in that your Dad is such a good partner.