It’s so interesting to work one on one with actors and help them discover or evolve their own process. I was working with a private client on set recently and rather than blocking it all out, the crew, the equipment all the artifice that comes with movie making, he’s been using it all. This particular actor is very open and expressive anyway and he needed to be raw and emotional in a scene so just before action he was talking to the crew in a very open way about his own emotional pain in his life and on action he went right into the scene and was in a very raw and emotional place. Now I’m not advocating this for everyone. For some actors speaking that openly with the crew might make them feel up tight and closed off. But finding a way to embrace all the chaos of a set and use it in a way that is helpful for you is a vital part of the process. If you are off on your own blasting your headphones right before action to get yourself in the right emotional place for a scene it’s then challenging to totally shift gears and be open and vulnerable with your scene partner. Marlon Brando famously would chat up the camera operator right before action and then turn to his scene partner and take that same relaxation into the work. Living on and off screen. Blurring the lines between actor and character.
I hear from so many actors, “I just want to work”, “I’ll take whatever I can get”. And believe me I get it. But this settling for crumbs mentality is not going to bring in the kind of satisfying inspiring career opportunities that you’re longing for. Of course there are times in a career when you need to gain experience. If you’ve never been on film, for example, or feel uncomfortable acting in front of the camera then, by all means, take that experimental AFI short film or that web series that’s premiering on a soon to be launched digital platform. But also don’t be afraid to dream big! If you want to be the lead in a P.T. Anderson movie then don’t be afraid to shout it from the rooftops. And immerse yourself in P.T.’s work. Watch behind the scenes documentaries, learn how he likes to work. Find out who his casting director is. Discover the new indie filmmakers who are inspired by P.T. Anderson. Follow them on social media. You’d be amazed at how responsive indie filmmakers can be when you reach out and tell them specifically what you love about their work, take it from one who knows and responds to each and every email and comment.
Being specific about what you want is so important not only in this business but in life in general. If film and TV is why you are here then maybe taking that out of town play, even though it’s a good regional theater and a pay check, may not be the right decision at this moment. Obviously only you know what’s right for you but saying “no” can be a really empowering thing. Follow your bliss. Know what you love and are passionate about and steep yourself in it.