Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Video review; Sherlock Holmes 2009

Basic acting advices 5; Break your boundaries

This article is less about “Acting advices.” Per say, and a little of a look about how I see the world, what you would need to do to get as much as possible out of doing performances.

We life in a world, where we are tied down very early in life and the boundaries are sat.

We are told how to think, we are told what is right and what is not right. “You don’t walk down the street dressed as a clown, that is indecent.”

This I find to be kind of sad. What is a creative mind? A truly creative person.

We tend to connect it with people whom makes small things, things you can see like small clay bowls, but knitting a scarf is not creative, at least not as long as you are merely following the recipe in front of you, then you follow a recipe you don’t think around the stuff, you are not thinking in new ways.

Some people may think they are creative, but in reality all they do is just copying.. damn huh?

A truly creative mind is the mind which comes up with new ideas, new ankles to all ready existing things, find solutions no one else would have come up with.

And these are the minds having the hardest time existing in our modern society.

I love people with such a mind, it’s the most brilliant people on earth, but unless it goes well for them they are bound and put down by society. The school needs us to give them the right answer not the creative new one, the universities which are the very places meant to create geniuses often either wont accept the creative thinkers because their new ways aren’t compatible with how the schools does it, for every-one or they can end up down-right strangle the gift.

You know what my theory is of why Einstein flunked math? Because he was one of the most brilliant creative minds that ever existed, it was not because he was dumb and suddenly became smarter, he was always smart, he just thought differently than any-one else, and first as he had a definite product you can take and feel on, people around was forced to acknowledge that he wasn’t an idiot.

Without minds like that, we would never have gotten any-where, it was a very creative mind inventing electricity, inventing television, computers. Just.. everything.

And when doing Drama, being so much bound down and tied to your upbringing, it hurts you, it hurts your performance.

That’s right, I am blaming society, it keeps you bound and thus sets you back.

Breaking your own boundaries is hard and it will take a hell of a lot of work, it’ll feel weird and wrong because you have been told it’s embarrassing. I still have that feeling now and then! I actually did feel embarrassed stretching out my arms and sing. “Just keep swimming.” In my top ten wackiest women video.

But I did it any-way, I did it to try and break my own boundary, I try as much as possible to break my boundaries, it’s the only way I can ever get out the performance I truly want.

Every-one, every-one in the entire world feel stage angst, and it take great determination and courage to over-come it, to even try. I have deep respect for any-one whom just goes for it.

When you stand on a stage, sit in front of a camera, what-ever, you expose yourself, you are at your most vulnerable, it feels weird, it feels uncomfortable, and that’s the emotions you would have to fight and ignore, you would have to break your boundaries.

Some people eases this natural un-ease by playing a character, by dressing up, it’s okay to walk around looking silly and talk silly at a big comic con. Why? Cause you are dressed up and every-body around you are dressed up to, that makes you much less vulnerable, that feels like stepping out of real society for a while and into another worlds where the usual rules doesn’t entirely apply.

Most people do kind of want to jump around and be silly while having fun, but only the fewest dare to.

And well… it’s all about taking a deep breath, acknowledge you feel this unease, and take the leap regardless.

My Drama lectures are actually not about making any-one better performance, that is not the goal at all.

The goal, with the drama games I put up, is to let people experience, to let them break boundaries, to let them explore reactions around them, to give them knowledge about how they feel inside and what you can do, for them to have fun and laugh in a different way. That is the true goal with what I do, and what I hopefully will work a lot more with in future now when I am also taking the education to be qualified drama social worker and all.

I love this web-internet video community, it allows people to be creative and develop their creative minds, it makes people break their boundaries, it brings people together, people whom without the internet, may would have been stuck in a small room and a dull every-day job.

Who the hell cares if you become famous or not!? Really!? You can be creative, you can do what-ever you want to do, you can explore yourself and your boundaries, hopefully break them gradually.

It’s tough, especially in the beginning, but in the end, I promise it will be worth it.

It gives you confidence, surplus, a better overview of the world around it, and most importantly, no one is happy when they are trapped, be free.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Basic acting advices 4; Emerging with a character

When I am working on a drama course, whether it’s for children, young people or whatever. I usually try to withhold this section for as a long as I can. And then yet use it when my students has run completely dry and tired in the other games.

That would be because the general reaction for me to say “We are going to do characters.” Are that the people I announce this to will start to jump up and down in pure excitement clapping their hands yelling. “Yeas finally, real acting!”

To which I must keep back my groan, take a breather and count to ten before continuing.

Yeas of cause playing a character is an important part of acting, but if you don’t have the other things in check, your awareness, your feelings, your manipulative skills, character study is bloody useless. It’s only the cream on top of the cake.

But let me try and be an adult about this, and just approach it with an even mind and tell about all the greats about this.

So, question one, how does this apply to us as video producers?

Answer is obvious, you all have an answer on the tip of your tounge, just admit it.

But the interest part is here, that all of your answers are probably kind if different.

Some will point to Cinema Snob and say. “Well, he plays a character! And uses this character to do jokes he couldn’t do as himself.” True.. but to an extent I think you can say that about just around.. every-one who sits in front of a camera upstaging themselves.

We all wants to project a certain image thus will all become a character, to an extent.

“Well then.” You might say. “How about the guys whom does several characters? Like Doug Walker?” SO GLAD YOU ASKED!

Yeas, the gift is indeed being able to play more than one character. That is what we want to work with.

And well, all ready now we have a lot of sub categories, how to create a character, how to utilize and build upon that character, how to become a character.. it’s a whole sub section in itself, and I just kind of write this as I go along.

I do like to point to the fact there are two different kind of characters out there. “Dramatic.” Characters and “Caricature.” Characters.

One is the three dimensional characters with an inner life and struggle which develops and results doing a time-line, the other is what comedians uses in their sketch shows, characters you see and recognise within a second and just know whom they are the moment they open their mouth.

But! These two kind of characters over-laps more than you should think at first, the best sort of character would be a mixture of both. A character whom is immediately recognisable, do certain things you recognise and you’ll know what he is about at ones (that is the caricature part.) but also have an inner life going on, an inner struggle which will eventually be exposed then resolved (The dramatic part.)

Characters with a life of their own which is a caricature aspect of you.

There is a saying out there, what-ever character you play, how-ever you dress up, it will always end up a self portrait.

……. I really don’t have any idea whether that is true or not.

But I do know people often end up restricting themselves an awful lot. Having a mentality “I can never play this kind of character.” “I would never be able to convey that.” “I can never appear this way.” Oh yeah, says who?

No really, who told you that? Who’s not to say that if you become aware enough of your motions and movements, becomes good enough at controlling what you protect, basically “Acting.” That you can’t do it?

Becoming an character means you become some-one else, you may don’t know it, but you do in fact act in a certain way in your every-day life, you respond to things in a certain way unique to you only, you talk in a certain way, you walk in a certain way, and it’s all you, and it’s what you want to chance in order to become some-one else.

One of the things I did ones in a while, while studying performance, was becoming… a stalker.

Yep, I was a stalker for a few hours, fortunately I am not the worst stalker in the world, the task was simple, I had to go to town, pick out one of the many people passing by, then stalk him or her while imitating every-thing this person did.. imitate the walk, the stand, how the person held his or hers bag, stopped up.

And yeah.. I did end up doing things completely different than I used to, and it helped me become more aware of my own body image, and if I turned the person I stalked into a character.. which is exactly what I was assigned to do, I would have to work dress and talk like the person.

“Did she just ask us to try and stalk some-one for a few hours….” Yeas.. yeas I believe I did, I know it’s probably breaking your boundaries, but hell, drama sport is about breaking boundaries, and it’s what you will want to keep on doing to improve your acting abilities.

Just make sure to always keep a certain distance so the person you stalk wont notice you, and do it at a crowded place.. any-one would notice if you stalked some-one down an empty street for an hour.

If the person end up noticing you, you have just failed the assignment, but if you are lucky have all ready collected data enough.

Then go home, put ten minutes aside to really explore how that person behaved and walked differently from you, and practise it.

Perhaps you can pick up fictional characters and play them out in your living room, explore and experience how they move about and how they move about differently from you.

You can even just imitate actors performances and ones again, just explore how you talk differently than usual, what they do and how it feels.

Then as you experience how you can become different persons, you’ve just achieved another level of self awareness and thus became a slightly bettor actor, job well done.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Basic acting advices 3; Status in relations to others

Last time we talked about the status you project with your body language.

What people will receive and experience from you based on your basic stand.

If you project low status you’ll become a target for criticism and appear like you have no control.

If you try to hard you’ll become static and all over the place, also appearing like you have no control.

If you are “The boss.” You become intimidating, and you will get the respect, but you wont be pleasant.

The golden ticket was the person in the middle, the relaxed, open welcoming on top person. View previous article for details.

So that is the status you project by yourself, when you are just standing alone.

To discuss Status in relations I want to introduce a new word to you.

Like the word “Acting.” You have all heard the word before, but do you know what it means?

“Drama.” To create drama you by the very least need two people, drama is what happens when there is a conflict. Drama means “A conflict happening.” And can very simply happen if two people or two characters comes to each other from different places, feeling different things.

When you walk around in your every-day life, your own status changes automatically according to your situation, who you are talking to, and how you are feeling at that given time.

If you are talking to your school teacher, your own status will automatically become lowered, and you talking in a certain way. That is also a conflict.

You will come with this lowered status and the teacher will have a higher status.

If there is some-one in front of you, you don’t like and don’t respect, chances are you will archive higher status and tell this person off very quickly.

If you stand in a shop taking in costumers, it’s your job to have “Equal status.” In order to be as pleasant and welcoming as possible.

Again, this is also what you want to archive as a spokes person, you don’t want to set yourself in a low status, you don’t want to be a boss and thus imposing, you want the middle ground where you are equal and pleasant.

As a drama teacher to kids, this is definitely the fun part and the part to tug into.

We practise drama very easily, and it is indeed a lot of fun.

What we simply do, is setting up a situation. Like for an example.

I have four people in front of me, which I am supposed to teach.

What I will do is simply set up a scenario for them to play out.

For instance, I have decided we are inside of a prison, two of the players are prisoner and two of the players are prison guards.

The prison will soon throw a party for the prisoners in order to make their stay more comfortable, I appoint one prisoner whom is on good terms with the guards and is open, even looking forward to the party, the other prisoner thinks the party is insulting and hates the idea, wanting to boy cut it.

One prison guard is a friendly person, is on good terms with the prisoners and looks forward the party, loving to set it up. The other prison guard thinks of the prisoners as lower creatures and thinks this party is the dumbest idea ever, looking forward to it with sheer dread.

The scenario is sat up, each character views this situation in completely different terms, and the status to each other is very different. The prisoners may be equals but have lower status than the guards, or prisoner nr two thinks guard number one is silly, thus act as if he has higher status in his presence, but is scared of guard two and thus have lower status with him.

You can easily apply more characters expanding this scenario, maybe there is third prisoner whom is planning to use this party as an diversion to his prison break? How then will he react to the other characters and how would the scenario play out?

This is completely up to the players, each time will be completely unique and depend on how people play it


This also helps to raise awareness of how you speak and why you do it. By being away, you can manipulate and use it to manipulate your audience.

How can we use this in Internet videos?

Very good question, and I am still figuring that one out.

Obviously this some-thing best applied to cross-overs or when you use additional characters.

What I can spot is that every-body making internet videos is that they will treat cross-over partners and additional characters as “You have lower status than me, thus I am better.” And the new comer will have…. The complete same attitude straight back.

This is of cause done for comedy effect, or sort of “We are all losers thinking we are awesome.”

But to spice this up a bit, try to decide for the relation, the status relation.

Maybe one just have the higher status through the other review, and the other one have placed himself in the lower end becoming a sucker up. (Try Film Brain in Kickassia and Suburban knights.)

Maybe some-one will have hidden attentions through out the review, making a fresh different kind of dynamic.

Maybe one part think the two are the best friends ever, and the other clearly just views the partner as nuisance, this is clearly also setting number two in higher status.

Maybe we can also spice it up by just having the two characters be good friends, and thus can do a different kind of bander (Watch my next video, yeas this is petty commercial.)

Most comic acts will have two people with different status, the most classic example being the "Funny-man - straight man." duo where the comic arrives from the different point of views and the clash in the middle, another cliche is that "One is the imposing leader and the other the more quiet awkward but in reality clevere person." that would be people as "Laurel and Hardy." or even. "Timon and Pumba."

Funny how difference in status are never really used in reviewer duos isn't it?

I think some-thing like this happened kind of un-intentionally in I an Mr. Mendos cross-over of "Batman Returns." I became the energetic fun and Mendo became the down to earth straight man.

People commented calling our chemistry refreshing and wonderful, when in reality I think the refreshing but just was we had a "Funny man straight man." act all of a sudden, maybe we should expand on that one day Mendo?

I can’t give you a definitive answer to this, I can’t give an definitive answer to anything, all I can do is trying to make you aware of what you are doing. And when you are aware, maybe you can play more around with it.

That is all I can give you, play around with all of this, have fun.

Your stage (In this case what is in front of the camera.) is your play ground and you are the playing child, it is your job to make this game as fun as possible by simply using your imagination and be free.

Only you would react as you do in certain situations, only you can write your kind of video and act it out in your way.

Next time; emerging with a character.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Basic acting advices; Status in posture

Working with Meyerholm the one thing you’re working the most with is how people perceive you.

The thing is that ”First impressions.” happens within the first 0,3 seconds you meet some-one new, and from there on off, it’s going to be quite a difficult task to change this first impression ever again. At least it is going to take a bit of work.

You of cause create this sub-conscious first impression from a great deal of things, the age and gender of the person, the clothes he or she wears, is she or he very clean and neat or dirty and messy.

Might as well tell now, appear with greased hair on camera is a sure way to repel your audience straight out of the bag. There can may be some-thing appealing about a messy personality, but never ever a greased dirty one.

But even putting all of that aside the status you project with your body language can easily become every-thing.

You always project the image if you are in control or not, you can easily manipulate people to think you are in control or not in control by being aware of your stand.

I do this all the time in my every-day life, even when I don’t know what I am talking about I talk as if I am in control, thus people assume that I am super smart.

What follows here is picture examples of different status’s and descriptions of what status it is and why it is.

This is low status, the person you see on this picture is very insecure and not at all in control.

You don’t really believe that this person knows what she is talking about, if she did surely she would have more confidence.

What is most common with low status positioned is that the person is trying to shield him or herself, which is ironic because by doing so, you are signalling to the world. “I am an easy target.”

The girl is crossing her arms, only allowing an extremely closed off body language, the legs are tight together, which not only closes of the body language, but also gives you very little earth connection, if any-one came and lightly pushed this person, she would fall down on the ground.

The back is slightly hunched over, this is because this person wants to take up as little space as possible, she wants to be invisible and that is what she signals, her head is also bowed over and her eyes looking down, signalling she doesn’t dare to give you eye-contact, she has put herself in a lower status than you.

For all in the world, you do not want to appear like this in front of camera (unless it’s your additional character.)

You may think it’ll make you look humble and thus likeable, but in reality you’ll appear as some-one with very low self confidence with no control begging for just a little attention

Fluttershy may be a cute character, but she is just a part of a larger group, you are the face of a web-show and thus a “show-host.” Avoid ever looking like this, avoid it like the pest.

This is how you may end up like looking if you are really trying to avoid the low status shown above.
But this isn’t the right way to go, this person is extremely tense, nervous and ultimately have no control at all, it seriously looks like she is compensating for some-thing.
And your audience will catch this, whether they do it consciously or sub-consciously. This will ensure that people sees you as an empty show-off and pass over without comment.

Lets see what is wrong with this picture, there is no earth connection here. This person stands tight and straight using every muscle just to stand up, ones again if you push this person ever so slightly, she will just fall down on the ground.
As this is a picture it of cause can’t be seen here, but this person will probably also move around an awful lot, way to much! Chances are this person will be all over the place yet incredible stiff in all of her movements.
These are also often the kind of persons whom don't know what to do with their hands, so they end up fiddling with them, constantly, and this is annoying, some people resolve this problem by simply holding some-thing, like.. a cup, or a cigar.. yeas MikeJTv and Mendo, I caught you red handed.
But it's okay, tons of Stand up comedians need their mic just to have some-thing in their hands to do some-thing with, they are simply lost without it.

Speaking of stand up, To see such a person as this tense all over the place woman in action, all you need to is watch a newbie in stand-up, a person with the attitude. “I am going to do this!” but deep down don’t have the self confidence or basic knowledge of how to appear.

It’s miss placed and broken energy, movements are good, but carefully considered economic movements can be way more powerful than jumping around, especially when you are tense.
If you capture yourself ever doing this, take a breather, sit down and drink some warm milch, then trying again, and look at the picture below, there is your golden ticket.

There we go, in control, high status, pleasant, relaxed.

What am I doing in this picture? I am at home and relaxed in my position, I got heart connection, the legs are firmly planted on the ground, if you pushed me now, I would very easily find new footing and not fall.

My big is relaxed and straight, not hunched and not tense. My arms are on the side of the body which signals how open I am, it’s pleasant and welcoming, now shielding here.

My neck is straight and I look up in confidence.

You automatically believe this is a person worth listening to, she has surplus and confidence, she must know what she is doing (yeah right -_-;)

This is not only how you want to appear in your videos, it’s how you want to appear in public, it’s how you give yourself the best possible chance of being assumed of some-one absolutely worth respecting and listening to.

And you very simply practise at home, become aware of your stand now and then, and then change it on purpose. Practise in front of the mirror and look at yourself, take a step outside and analyze your natural responses when you talk to different people in your every-day life. Do you become “Insecure person.” From pic number one. “Tense person.” Or are you just in control completely?

You can most often feel this inside out. But wait! We still miss an important picture!

What we have grabbed is how you project the lowest status, and how you project that you are “In control.” But.. in control isn’t the highest status, it’s actually merely meeting every-body as their equal, leaving that as an just a little above average status.

Oh shit, the boss is here! I’m sorry sir, what I did I am sorry!

The Boss is the person in control! She has taken demand of the situation and you better listen to her, she decides and just is the boss.

What happened here? Ones again, a firm earth connection is a definite must, you can’t push the boss around.

The Boss stands straight and he or she will look down at your, the boss look you in the eye does he feel like it.

The boss doesn’t need to shield any-thing as he is well, the boss, the body languet is thus open, she takes up as much space as possible and moves very little around.

She is in complete and utter control, she is the one who takes the word and sets the days order.

And still, as along as you are aware if this status parts in real life as well as theatre, you can manipulate them and control them, but I’ll go more into than in the next article.

Next time; Status in relation to each other.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Basic acting advices; Prologue

This was a text originally created for the TGWTG forum under the sub-section "Your video reviews." under request.
As that thread very quickly became a base for tons of good discussion it also became quite messed up, so in an attempt to get some order into it for any-one who's only interested in reading the articles, I now also publishing on my blog so I can link directly to these blog posts for future reference.

'Sofie Liv'

We as internet producers have an awful lot of things to learn, we are writers, editors, effect managers, critics.. in fact, so busy are we all that there hasn't been much talk about "Acting."
What is acting? how can we learn to be better actors? The matter of fact is that we all act when we are on camera, and it doesn't matter if you try to be a character or yourself, you are still projecting an image, there's a certain image you want to project, a message you want to get across, an emotion you want to be obvious and a feel you want your show to have. As the front face of your own show, you carry all of that. And having a good presence people find intriguing can be the very break or make in your internet videos. Even if such things as writing and editing is top notch.

It's not that long I have made internet videos, but all ready now I have made a couple of experiences, I've done mistakes and had to figure things out. And I am still on that path, there's still so very many aspects in video producing yet not explored, for me it kind of feels to be a comedian on a tiny stage in a community hall, and the rules here are quite different than if I stood in a opera house, there's things I can get away with here I can't in the opera hall, and virsa versa.

I am side tracking.

Here's a question we first need to ask ourselves. "What is acting?"
What does it really mean this word "Acting." most people assume acting is merely "to play an character." but this is actually not true.
"Acting." means to project an image. It means to use your body, face and voice to project what-ever image you wish, convince people of what-ever you want them to be convinced to.
And acting is not limited to merely a stage or in front of a camera, we actually act all the time, in our every day life, on the job, in school at job interviews.
In the art of acting what you learn is to be aware what you project with your movements, to be aware of what you are saying and how people will take it, to act is to manipulate your audience whether it is a thousand listeners or your teacher.

In method acting we have two large branches the "Stanislawski" and the "Meyerholm." each named after the guy who first starting to really make research into this.

Stanislawski is the fancy one, it's the one all of the big great actors claims to have been taught in, what the big expensive acting schools will teach in.
Stanislawski is all about "Becoming the character." it's about feeling the same as what your character is feeling, manipulating the audience by manipulate yourself, when given a character you are sat to find out who he is, where he came from, what he feels about certain subjects, what he feels in each given scene he is in and why he feels like that, how minor the scene is is unimportant, Stanislawski actors are taught to be absorbers, to absorb and become the character, to feel what the character feels. But.. I don't believe Stanislawski is the interesting one for us the video producers.
The fact is, we don't make big Shakesperian plays with tragic characters, this is not what we want to go for or use time on.
If you are interested, the first Stanislawski practises people learn, and professional actors still use is to hold imaginary cups, decide what this cup feels like, how it smells, what it contains, it is hot or warm? then you can take imaginary showers and try to physically feel the water, stuff like that.

Meyerholm is a much lesser known and lesser used branch of acting, but he is the more interesting for us I believe.
While Stanislawski is about looking inside and feel the core of the imaginary situation, Meyerholm is about taking a step outside of the picture, view from the outside and be aware of your surroundings and how the audience sees you.
This is by far also the better method for comedy acting, as comedy is often about timing, awareness, often is visual and is either win or fail.

John Cleese had a good way of describing this. "To suddenly play this romantic scene was a very odd experience for me, suddenly instead of being aware of everything around me, I had to let the scene flow and be in the moment, usually it always feels like I have a clock in my head, ticking preciesly I have to follow."

What he described, perhaps even without knowing, is the shift from Meyerholm to Stanislawski as he now had to be serious in a scene instead of as a first priority being concerned about being funny.
This is also why I firmly believe the best kind of actor is the actor who have both branches of acting down and can shift through them when needed.

You may consider this as an introducing chapter to acting, next time we'll talk about how to convey status, "Low and High status." what status you project with your body in certain scenarios.

Twilight video review