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.

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