How Actors Can Save The Film Industry

See if this plot sounds familiar. An evil corruption has swept over the land threatening to extinguish all that was once good in the world with the future resting in the hands of a heroic force which has lost it’s way and which must learn to believe once again in magic if it is to rediscover a long lost power it must use to save humanity. If that story sounds familiar it’s because it’s the story actors are living right now in the film industry. The evil corruption is high concept, genre driven, franchise fueled, tent pole movies. The heroic
Read More

The Secret To Being Memorable On Camera

What’s the difference between an actor and her character? One thinks she is the character, the other wishes the actor would stop saying she is the character. Whenever I’m working with an actor on camera, I always start by asking the actor to tell me about his or her character. In response, I usually receive a very thorough analysis of the story, the key relationships in the story, the history of the main characters, and a list of emotional and psychological factors playing on the actor’s character during the scene. After all that, I still wouldn’t recognize the actor’s character
Read More

#1 Reason Great Actors Have Great Careers

Why did the film camera break up with the actor? The actor wanted to get serious and the film camera was just looking for a little action. My first job in show business was as an assistant to Mike Nichols. Mostly I watched him work, and I have a theory about what made the actors’ performances in his films so great and why every great actor wanted to work with him. He was that all too rare breed of serious artist and consummate entertainer, and the reason why so many actors’ performances in so many of his films were so
Read More

3 Directing Techniques Actors Can Use To Look Brilliant

Attention filmmakers: As you are no doubt aware, much of your time as filmmakers will be occupied by your working relationship with a group of artists known as actors. Rest assured, they take their jobs very seriously. This will, however, present you with a problem because their jobs, in their minds, is to be “true to the material,” and your job, primarily, is to be “true to the camera.” In other words, they will be thinking literally, while you will be thinking cinematically. Remember, your job, as a filmmaker, is to make the audience imagine the possibilities of what could
Read More

Why The Camera Wants Actors To Think Like Movie Stars

Actors are taught that when the other actor in a scene is speaking, they should give all of their focus to the other actor and let the other actor have his or her moment. However, the other actor is usually off-camera and what’s left on camera is an actor graciously listening, while being completely uninteresting. In editing, we can cut to the actor on camera if we want, but why would we? Someone just listening isn’t interesting. Someone struggling with their own emotional experience because of what the other character is saying, and while the other character is saying it,
Read More

Why The Actor’s Process Kills Comedy (and What To Do About It)

I open my speaking engagements with a knock-knock joke I’ve written for actors. “Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “Method actor.” “Method actor who?” And then I pause as long as it takes for the actors in the audience to get the joke. In other words, as wonderful as it is, “the actor’s process” wasn’t designed for comedy. Not only wasn’t it designed for comedy, it’s a pretty safe bet “the actor’s process” will kill any chance the audience will laugh even once during a scene. Why? Because “the actor’s process” is designed to make the audience think that something real is
Read More

It’s A Wonderful CleverActorTip

Actors often ask me to expand on some of my CleverActorTips or site examples from movies we all know and love. Given it’s the season for movies we know and love, here are three actors whose performances in holiday movies we love so much we know them by heart, and how they brilliantly demonstrate three CleverActorTips that all actors can steal, I mean learn from, and use to create classic film performances of their own. CleverActorTip#9: “On film, being ‘in the moment’ isn’t as interesting as trying to imagine what’s beyond it.” Example: Jimmy Stewart in “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
Read More

3 Secrets To Playing Heroes & Heroines On Film

The first character ever created was a hero. The first story ever told was the story of a hero’s journey. The main reason audiences have been watching and reading stories ever since is because “the hero’s story” is the story we all imagine we are living. It is the story we dream. Film heroes and heroines are varied. There are classic film heroes and heroes on a mission to save others, action heroes and heroines on a mission to save the day, superheroes and heroines on a mission to save the world, romantic heroes and heroines on a mission to
Read More

3 Things Writers Wish Actors Knew About Writing

Actors, on the whole, are the most loyal members of the film business, probably too loyal for their own good and definitely more loyal than the rest of us often deserve. They are especially loyal to writers. Who else in this business is willing to give us the benefit of the doubt—even when they have a feeling we’ve written something that isn’t very good. Actors usually assume we know best, when everyone else in the business usually assumes we don’t. Sure they make us crazy sometimes, but who else in this business will fight for our cause the way actors
Read More

How To Create A Cinematic Villain

There’s one in almost every story and the actors who play villains best make the camera and the audience root for them. By the way, that’s how villains get to be the leading characters in stories—they make the camera and the audience root for them. Oddly, some actors don’t want to play villains because they only want to play the kinds of roles which entail deep emotional conflict. Clever actors understand that this is what earns the actor who is playing a villain an Academy Award. Here are a few other things clever actors understand about how to create cinematic
Read More