Archive for the ‘Acting’ Category

The Ghost of Acting Past

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

I had the great good fortune this past weekend to revisit an art form I once pursued passionately as a career.  I borrowed from my diminished store of available time to act in a movie being made by one of my former students.

I’d taught Daniel a few years back in my “Introduction to Acting” class.  He was smart, clever, attentive, hard-working, ambitious, and – as evidenced by a music video he showed me – had a very good eye.  Some time after that, he asked me to perform in a short film of his at the school, and I enjoyed the experience.  I felt, as an actor, that he was on the verge of being the kind of director with whom performers would enjoy working.

Apparently, I didn’t fail entirely, as he recently contacted me about playing the role of a photographer’s manager in his new short film.  Obviously, he wasn’t casting the part beyond me.  Quite a compliment.

Let’s rewind a bit.  Long before I ever conceived of making website videos or marketing videos (actually, we were using IBM Selectrics at the studio in those days), I stepped away from being a high-powered TV exec to write and direct.  In order to do the latter, I figured I’d better know what actors did (not realizing at the time that virtually no directors truly understand what actors do or how to help them do it).  I joined an acting class and was almost immediately bitten by the bug.

For the next ten years, I attended workshops, auditioned, rehearsed, performed in plays and TV/Film, had agents, got photos shot and resumes printed, and watched my bank account decline.  I’m fond of saying that of all the things I’ve done in this business, the one I enjoy most doing is acting – and the one of which I least enjoy the lifestyle is the same.

So when the opportunity arose to do this film and perform a very nice little role, I couldn’t say no.  I think it went very well, judging from the comments I heard (one of the difficult things about acting is that you can’t judge yourself while performing).  And it confirmed something which I knew from my first acting class.

There’s nothing like the charge of energy you get from performing.  And there’s nothing like a director who gives you just enough to give him the turn he needs, but still do it your way.

Selling vs. Meeting

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

In adding video to your website, the first thing to realize is that it’s not a commercial.  You’re not hawking your wares, nor begging people to just give you a call.  Your video is the call.  Your video is the introduction.  If a viewer is googling through websites looking at text, flash, animation, and, yes, website videos selling selling selling a product, imagine the relief at a site which realizes what this work should be about.  Simply getting to know you, the owner or your chosen spokesperson.  The web surfer already knows what product is being searched and doesn’t need the hard-sell.  What will jump out is something which could never work in a TV commercial in which the product must take center stage.  On a website, the product is there, but not the human with whom the buyer will interact.  That’s the unique opportunity of website video – humanizing your product.  Your site is already selling it.  Don’t waste your website video work by making it nothing more than a live-action version of what’s already there.

Some Like it Public

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

As a studying actor, I often heard acting described as “being private in public.”  I thought this was my acting coach’s creation, until I had the opportunity to leaf through Marilyn Monroe’s annotated, personal script for the film “Some Like it Hot.”  On each page were her extensive notes, written in pencil.  And inside the cover at the end?  “Acting is being private in public.”  But regardless of who came up with that saying, it’s the best description I’ve heard of the price any good actor has to pay.  Not by the seemingly obvious choice (especially in thinking of Monroe) of overtly sexual behavior, but rather of putting something you’ve been trying to hide for a long time out front.  Your belly.  Your bald spot.  Your father’s voice.  Your recently deceased but greatly loved grandma’s stance, or pet name for you.  When you can bring a highly private idea like that to your performance, in front of an audience of hundreds and maybe thousands of strangers, you’ll know why it’s so difficult – and so rewarding – to be an actor.