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Adventures In Acting - Practice!

Updated: Dec 18, 2023


This month's collection of acting-related thoughts and feelings:

 

Connect 4 anyone?
Pic from weekend acting workshop - part of "Made it" documentary

Trailer for the "Made It" documentary on Vimeo:


 

“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”


Mark Twain - Writer of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"


 

Practice - In Acting:


If, as I believe, it's true that acting is a practicable skill, then what are we practising and how should we practise?


There are many ideas out there about "best" practices, some useful, some not.

Some seem to evoke a deep feeling that we aren't doing enough, and others are so vague that the concept of practising anything could trigger immediate existential dread.


So what is practice?


The common saying is "practice makes perfect"

but given that you cannot perfect Acting

maybe practice makes, better.....?


Bruce Lee says "Practice makes perfect. After a long time of practising, our work will become natural, skill full, swift, and steady."

Sounds great!

Imagine being described as a "natural, skill full, swift and steady actor"?! Pretty cool!

Better than being "ordinary"

and...

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is practice - Vladimir Horowitz.


I have heard or read this recently:

Don’t practice until you get it right

Practice until you can't get it wrong

I guess this makes sense to me in regard to the work done by actors in the classroom.

To explore how far you may go, in terms of the extremes of human behaviour, until it seems inappropriate to bring into the work, although with so many varying styles of acting what is "too much" or "not enough" is ever changing it seems.


So practise is getting better at a skill?


According to the dictionary practise is:

"To perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to acquire, improve or maintain proficiency in it."


We should then know what "Acting" is to get good at practising Acting, right?


So what is "Acting"?

According to the dictionary to "act" is to:

1.

take action; do something.

2.

behave in the way specified.

3.

take effect; have a particular effect.

4.

perform a role in a play, film, or television.

behave so as to appear to be; pretend to be.


Easy!


We can practise "doing things" (as us),

Then practise "behaving differently" (as "characters")

Then practise "affecting others" (the audience)

Then practise "consistently pretending" (showbiz)




However you decide to practise Acting, I would take a good look at those you believe do it well. Try to pinpoint what exactly it is they are doing and how you might get better at that thing; whether that is in the voice, body, emotional accessibility, personality, comedy timing, vulnerability, listening, presence or all of the above.


 

What's my motivation?


This month's scene is chosen by Finnish/Swedish Actor Rasmus Blomqvist.

Rasmus recently appeared alongside Aaron Paul and Karen Gillan in the movie "Dual".


Rasmus says:

"I chose this scene because it’s one that always comes to mind when I think of the movie. I like how something as everyday as a business card is given so much meaning and power over the characters in the scene and how it shows in them".


Scene less than 2 min long.


Notes:

American Psycho" is a psychological thriller film released in 2000, directed by Mary Harron and starring Christian Bale. The film follows the story of Patrick Bateman, a wealthy and successful investment banker in New York City who leads a double life as a serial killer. The film explores themes of consumerism, materialism, and the shallow and superficial culture of the 1980s.

Click on the video link below and then check my short interpretation underneath


This scene has a great journey for Christian Bale, the clever camera work and use of narration gives us a deep sense of what he's going through.


I will just look at what Christian is doing and how he may have approached this scene to set up the huge swing in emotion from start to end.

I'll refer to him as Chris for no other reason than its shorter then Christian.


We open on a very smug Chris.


This is the look of someone who has waited a lifetime to have this moment, finally he has "one up" on his colleagues and he's going to enjoy every second of this.....


Clearly these cards mean a lot to these men and not wanting to be out done his colleague see's an opportunity to strike a blow.


It's a big blow too.


As the superior card is laid down we see Chris' face drop and the realisation hit him that he is yet again been beaten in this competitive world of business card design.


He can only muster the word "nice" but it's said with such disdain.


Now the inner monologue begins, we get to hear how degrading this is for him, his pride integrity and professionalism is at stake here.


As if to kick him when he's down another, even better, card is produced, from a beautiful holder no less, all details that bring tension and hatred to Chris' body language and voice, he can barely get his words out and is about to crack, when....


In an act of self sabotage, it seems, he asks to see another card.

By now even the owner of the card seems reluctant to show it as Chris is clearly going through something quite intense and uncomfortable.


Of course the last card is just perfection and the result is Chris cannot hide his turmoil.

He is shaking, sweating he's not breathing and his fists clench up.


For anyone who knows the film knows what he goes on to do but how Chris managed to depict this turning point by placing such intense feeling onto such a mundane inanimate objects is why he gets paid the big bucks.


The performance is extra memorable for the contrast in where he started this scene, emotionally, compared to the ending, clinical!.


Have a short scene you want to see simply analysed?

Click below to send link to scene:




 

Dead on the Vine had the honour of being the opening film of the Unrestricted Film Festival this year.


An incredible occasion where friends, family and plenty of support turned out to a sold out screening in the beautiful Everyman cinema "Screen on the Green".


The film was also nominated 6 times in 4 categories and won an award in all 4.


I came away with "Best Actor in a feature film" and we had the wonderful Shereener Browne win "Best Actress" as well as "Best Film" and "Best Director" for Mark A C Brown" So proud of everyone!


It's great to know I did a god job on this film but it really makes me realise the importance of everyone doing a good job in their own department.

There have been films where i thought i did a great job and the film didn't quite work, there have been films where i know i could have done a better job and it reminds me unless everyone shows up and does a good job the project will suffer.


I hope now I have a better understanding of what my job is on a film set and i aim to do my best as consistently as possible, then hope everyone else is doing the same.


The film set is a special place to be when everyone knows and loves what they are doing.

 

Any acting related news or questions email me:


Thanks for your attention - and stay in touch.

Tom


 

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