Friday, 30 November 2012
Thursday, 29 November 2012
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Poetic acting gives expression to human experience which cannot be dealt with in any other way - for example; if, in the scene, the actor tries to conceal a difficult emotion (perhaps has to tell a lie in the scene), the repressed energy may express itself, for example, as a displacement, such as the actor handling an object or adjusting an item of his clothing. These small actions may not necessarily “mean” something in terms the literal plot of the scene, but are the symptom of some deeper movement within the actor. The wonderful, subtle expressions may never happen for the by-design actor, because is controlling everything to the extent that he doesn't allow deeper movements to occur within himself, and so there is no poetic spin-off during his performance.
The full implications of a poetic performance may not be fully understood by an audience on an immediate, conscious level, but the performance does create a sense of harmony (even when the action is tumultuous). That's why the poetic actor produces richer results than the by-design actor. The by-design actor may produce a performance which is more immediately impressive, may at first appear to be “natural”, but it is usually generalised and superficial, and the effect dissipates fairly quickly, whereas the poetic actor's performance may at first give the impression that nothing is really happening, and his effect may creep up on the audience almost imperceptibly, but all of those organically created moments of his performance add-up to something deeply affecting, they leave us unsure, they hang in our minds long after the action has finished, lodging themselves there (even if it is only certain moments of the performance which do this).
I intend to use the poetic form of acting for my feature film, Noirish Project, and I do not mean my own perfromance only, but the performances of all the actors in the film. The camera-work and editing will be pared back, and the script is flat and minimal, with scenes where the characters are hanging around and waiting. It is out of these seemingly empty situations that I hope this poetic form of acting will emerge to create wonderful, unplanned expressions, with the minimalism of the film giving them centre stage.
Monday, 26 November 2012
Saturday, 24 November 2012
Thursday, 22 November 2012
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
Monday, 19 November 2012
The Man Without A Past
Aki Breaky Heart
The Man Without A Past (Mies Vailla Menneisyyttä)
Directed by Aki Kaurismäki
ICA Projects Region 2
Read more by Nuts4R2 here
Saturday, 17 November 2012
Thursday, 15 November 2012
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
The Iguana With The Tongue of Fire
Fiery Tongue In Cheek
The Iguana With The Tongue of Fire
aka Lizard With A Tongue Of Fire
aka L'iguana Dalla Lingua Di Fuoco
Italy/France/West Germany 1971
Directed by Riccardo Freda
New Entertainment World Region 0
Read more by Nuts4R2 here
“with professional actors they have an imaginary in between you and them. In other words they have some model in their minds about how to act, or how someone did it before, or some techniques, visual or physical, they can use....it's as if you are writing a book and you are two” - Albert Serra
Serra is a filmmaker who primarily works with non-actors. He says he doesn't like professional actors, and the above quote gives us a clue as to why. What Serra is really doing here, is criticising actors in general for a lack of creativity, or more precisely, a lack of in-the-moment creativity: actors work-out in advance exactly how they are going to do the scene, down to each gesture, each facial movement, each inflection, and simply implement this preparation regardless of what is actually happening in the scene as it unfolds (and regardless of what the other actors in the scene are doing). This approach makes it that much harder for the director to work with the actor, because the actor has already set their performance in stone. The model of acting Serra talks about, is the model of the employee-actor, whose goal is simply to rubber stamp a performance of complacent, base professionalism, and where every effort is made to explain the character rather than create organically, because the greatest terror is that anything the actor does may be even slightly misunderstood, every I dotted and every T crossed to absolute death, and any semblance of art is eliminated mercilessly. Of course, all this leads to the bland, meaningless, presentation-without-mistakes type of performance which so dominates contemporary acting, and which so irks filmmakers like Serra.
There is the non-actor and there is the employee-actor, but there is also a third kind of actor: the artist-actor. This actor arrives at the scene with nothing, and creates something out of that nothing. For sure there is preparation – memorising lines, understanding what is happening in the scene, practice – but artist-actors don't merely re-produce this preparation and call it “performance”, they use preparation as a tool for liberating their creativity, the preparation is a means and not an end. The artist-actor responds to what is actually happening in the scene, and responds regardless of their preparation. They come to the work ready to discover. And the work that is produced with this approach is intense, various, intriguing, and true. Also, by creating in-the-moment, we are closer to the actors source personality, as oppose to the layers and layers of guff piled on in the name of technique, and being close to the source leads to a more vivid performance. Artist-actors don't bring things to the scene, they simply try to understand what the scene is, and fit themselves into it. The employee-actor almost ignores the scene entirely, and sees the whole project as an excuse to showcase themselves (“my character wouldn't do that”), and in a sense, this is what Serra is referring to when he says; “it's as if you are writing a book and you are two”: the actor is, without invite, bringing things in from outside the original conception of the project, which effectively creates a rival to the original conception, trying to turn it into something else, hence two authors. The artist-actor is flexible enough, sensitive enough, and good enough, to respond to whichever way the director may want to work the scene. The artist-actor does not want to co-author but serve the form. For actor-artists, aesthetic truth is the goal, and organic creation is the way to attain it. These artist-actors struggle enormously in a world where little more is expected of the actor than having the right colour hair.
The mistake Serra makes (and others do too) is to speak of actors in general – he is effectively saying all actors are the same, and take the same approach. Clearly this is not true. It is a shame that a filmmaker of Serra's calibre sees it this way. More broadly speaking though, it is utterly crucial that we recognise and endorse artist-actors, otherwise they will disappear in that gap between employee-actors and non-actors, and the art of acting will disappear with them.
Sunday, 11 November 2012
Saturday, 10 November 2012
Thursday, 8 November 2012
Wednesday, 7 November 2012
This week, I journeyed to Cork City, to attend a screening of HE (the new feature film by Rouzbeh Rashidi in which I play the lead role), which was wonderfully hosted by The Guesthouse. Rouzbeh and I participated in a Q & A session after the screening, and I very much enjoyed answering the few questions about acting which came my way, especially in light of the unusual, highly collborative methods Rouzbeh and I employ. I found it enriching to engage with the audience in this direct way, and it was pleasing to see that the film was very well recieved.
Also while in Cork, production was set in motion for There Is No Escape From The Terrors Of The Mind, the fourth feature film collaboration between myself and Rouzbeh - it's a fragmented, experimental, horror film, with a melancholic inflection, and will be shot over the next year in various countries. The film also features Maximillian Le Cain in a leading role. Visually, the film will again be driven by Rouzbeh's high visual artistry, and I will again create scenes in response to brief notes given to me by the director. There Is No Escape From The Terrors Of The Mind marks a slight change of approach for us however, in the sense that long monologues have been prominent in our previous films, whereas in this new film, dialogue will be extremely limited, although a voiceover will be added upon completion of filming. So the scenes we shot in Cork then, were largely physical, which is to say I was expressing myself through movement and actions, which is a form of acting I particularly love, because I love to find ways of expressing the internal life of the character through physical movements and the handling of objects: using these tools to show states of being like; distraction, pre-occuption, or an important thought suddenly entering my mind. There was one scene in particular, where my character is waiting to play an important game of chess, and the key challenge was moving between being mildly aggitated and nervous, to trying to alleviate this state by finding ways of distracting myself, to sudden bursts of intense clarity of thought, where my character has come up with some moves to defeat his opponent. Agitation and nervousness can be done physically through the body, using a certain amount of physical tension and intensity of concentration. In order to alleviate this state, I scanned books on the shelf, but with no particular object in mind other than distraction. And finally, in order to show an important thought coming into my mind, I grabbed my pen and scribbled notes into my notebook. It's important to stress that each of these beats was given to me by Rouzbeh just before we were to shoot the scene, and my job was to express the meaning of the scene using these beats - and the meaning of the scene is: waiting for important events. We continued in this fashion for several more scenes, employing the notions of distraction and agitation and thought, sometimes using different objects to express the moment (a Super 8 camera in one scene, for example), but the notebook was always present. Whether we are creating dialogue, or physical actions, the idea which unifies our approach in all the scenes (here, and in the other films where I have worked with Rouzbeh) is; improvising in response to the immediate situation, and so create "moments of cinema".
Work on There Is No Escape From The Terrors Of The Mind continues early next year.