Saturday, July 14, 2007

Acting Class

This weekend I've been taking an acting class from a professional coach from L.A. It is some serious stuff, no lie. It goes all weekend long, Friday evening, all day Saturday and all day Sunday. Coach is demanding and rather strange, but she brings the best out of people. I've done some things that please her and some that don't, but it's great because when you don't get it, you know it and she hardly has to tell you, which is great, because it's not about a list of rules or step-by-step thing, it's all about bringing yourself to the scene and finding the character inside and making everything be real. None of this nonsense or technical mumbo jumbo about objectives or anything.

Objectives were something we studied in my Intro to Theater class in college, which really sticks out to me. This packet we read wanted to avoid using adjectives or emotional descriptions and wanted us to always have an objective - an action. It was supposed to make the scene stronger, and in some senses it did, but for me it just felt disjointed. For instance, instead of "feeling mad," and therefore yelling at someone, you would use an action like "attack." So we weren't feeling angry or sad in a scene - we were attacking someone or resisting someone or soothing someone or yada yada yada. This had the positive effect of forcing our acting to be about what's going on between the people in the scene and not just about our own personal crap, which is important. But it just struck me as stupid. People don't attack people or resist. They experience passions which leads them to do them. If you feel angry, you're automatically going to lash out, so feel angry and you'll lash out, most likely at the right moment.

So this acting coach is much more about using your instincts and your gut, rather than thinking through everything. So we do cold read, just running them fresh, and we practice using our instincts. It's great. It's really challenging, because I'm not used to it, and I haven't practiced it. I'm used to getting the script, memorizing the lines and then putting the feeling into it along the way. In this we start with the feeling; we put the feeling in and we're involved in the scene from the get go and we can't let anything be fake or half-assed.

Other cool thing about this weekend - I was carpooling with a couple of girls on the way to class, and we got to talking, and I mentioned I was wriiting a novel. One girl asked me what kind of novel it was, and when I told her it was fantasy/fiction, she exclaimed that her dad wrote fantasy fiction. This revelation was not entirely interesting to me, but I asked who he was in case I had heard of him, and she said he was David Farland, an author whose works I really enjoy. He's the author of the Runelords series, which were great reads for me, and he had recently come out with another one which I have been wanting to read for almost a year. She said that he actually has another one written and is working on yet another. I just thought that was really cool.

Cassie has been out of the country, stomping around Australia - I don't know, I think she's living with some Kangaroos and going crocodile hunting down there. But she's been gone for quite some time, and I really miss her, and I'm very excited to have her back in a few days. Life has been a bit difficult without her. Still... good things are happening, and I'm thankful.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


I just watched the movie Apocalypto last night. For some reason I never heard great things about the movie. I think I recall hearing that it had a lot of action, but that the plot was weak and there wasn't a whole lot to it. I also go the impression that it would be a dark and bloody movie, more of a sensory overload along the lines of Passion of the Christ. Frankly, it wasn't. To put it quite plainly, this movie was great. I loved it, and the more I think of it, the more I liked it. It was gripping from beginning to end. To be fair, the plot wasn't very intricate, but it was a wonderful story, and it was portrayed with such life and such passion and heart, that I just couldn't turn it off and save it for later at 2:30 in the morning. Anyway, to any who were thinking of seeing it and thought it probably wouldn't be worth watching because Mel Gibson got caught driving drunk and said some rotten things about a certain ethnic people group, I'd suggest you reconsider. Though now that I've put it in that light, it suddenly strikes me as a completely unfavorable idea.

But it's not! It's a good idea! See the movie! It's good!