Important Elements Of Screenplay Format For The Actor

A screenplay is an ever-evolving written form that changes many times in its life. The first form that could possibly come into the actor's hands is a spec script. A spec script is what writers use as a selling tool to agents, producers, star actors, directors, etc., anyone who will possibly be influential in buying the script and making the movie. Directors who write their own material also do spec scripts because they are easier to read and include much descriptive information that will be...

All Films Are The Same

Regardless of the budget, all film sets have the same problems big-budget films just solve them more expensively. The same kinds of questions have to be answered by the filmmakers. There are millions of decisions that have to be made at each step along the way. With a bigger budget, acclaimed craftspeople, and an experienced crew, problems might be solved with more money, expertise, or artistry, but the basic dilemmas are still the same. The same questions arise no matter the budget or the film...

The Fourth Wall

Creating an inner place of such emotional power is a different usage of place than the creation of a communal fourth wall, as all of the actors did in the first scene I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. Those actors all created the illusion of seeing the same scene before them that we were seeing on the picture screen. The fourth wall is the missing wall of the traditional proscenium arch of the theater, through which the audience views the play. Though there have been amazing...

Doing The Videotaped Audition

So, let's take a look at how you can apply the techniques from the previous chapters to a videotaped film audition. I'm not a fan of taping yourself to prepare for an audition. The image that you create inside the frame may have nothing to do with the image that a director would create inside the frame you have moved your focus from acting to filmmaking. There are better ways to prepare for a videotaped audition than becoming a film director. Let's assume you have received some information...

Sense Memory

We observe the world through our senses. We have five and the much-talked-about sixth sense, which is another matter altogether . Our five senses bring us through the world each day, translating everything that we experience into a language that we understand. Then, through our senses, we are able to communicate back to the world around us. Our senses have a memory, a ship's log, of everything we've experienced, encapsulated somewhere within. To become aware of the power of that memory and its...

Creating An Imaginary Place

To create an imaginary place, we use the same procedure as creating any of the other sense memories We begin with the Mental Relaxation exercises and warm up the physical body through movement. In order to create an imaginary place, you have to employ all of your senses and be able to create the space around your entire body. This will not usually come all at once. Sometimes, only a portion of a place will come to you, and for certain circumstances, that will be sufficient. We have already gone...

Using The Word Film

I would like to clarify why I use the word film even though many of the important movies of today are being shot on digital video and other mediums. There is a lot of discussion in the entertainment industry today about the advance of digital technology and how it will affect filmmaking, both now and in the future. Cameras are becoming smaller and more versatile, and there are affordable computer programs to edit whatever you have shot for relatively less money than ever before, almost anyone...

The Observation Exercise

In my classes at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, I'm usually teaching first-year film and animation students a required course in acting. What this generally means is that they don't want to be in front of the camera, but in some capacity behind it. They come with the notion that acting is just something that certain types of people do well, and they are not aware that there is any technique or process involved. In my professional workshops, I often encounter people who want to be...

The First Rehearsal

Let's suppose that you are the right actor for this job, and, therefore, you have all the emotional and technical ammunition to do whatever is asked of you. The first rehearsal is going to be a blocking rehearsal for the actors. The rest of the key crew members will be watching the rehearsal to anticipate the coming demands on their departments once it is decided how to shoot the scene. Directors have varying degrees of preconceived ideas about how to film a scene. They have discussed it with...

Observation

In my acting classes, I try to make the students aware of how much their behavior can be affected by what their preconceived notions are of a word. If I tell them to really concentrate on their breathing, for example, to close their eyes and just concentrate on the breath, they will assume what they believe is the correct body posture and demeanor to indicate a state of intense concentration. Since they all know that they are in an acting class, the indications will be larger and more...

Place As A Sense Memory

Actors create everything out of their own imagination anyway. Everything an actor does is enhanced by his or her imagination, which fills out the moment, hopefully, to its fullest extent. When working with place in filmmaking, whether in a studio or on a real location, actors have to enhance the situation with their imagination. As always, there are many approaches to solving the problems presented by place. One of the ways of finding the best methods for you to K solve the problems of working...

Following The Blueprint

A screenplay is a blueprint for an actor's preparation. It only gives you the bare bones, the outer shell, but that's all you need to fire your imagination and begin to technically create the character. Filmmaking is a collaborative art, where everyone does his job separately and thoroughly, then works collectively under the aegis of the director, who shows everyone the way to collaboratively put it all together. Somehow, because only the bare a bones are given to you and you are only one part...

Mental Relaxation

An ordinary metal folding chair is good or any sturdy, straight-backed chair with no arms and no cushions. Have a clock nearby, so you can time yourself. In the beginning, give yourself twenty minutes. At first, just try and breathe calmly and fully with closed eyes. Try and take the pressure off. Unlike yoga or meditation, where you are told to always go back to the mantra and remain calm, these exercises are geared to bring you more in touch with how you feel and what's going...

Time Line Continuity

Each scene section should have a time line for your character. If the information is given to you in the script, by all means use it, but many times it is not specifically given you have to make it up from the given circumstances of the screenplay. In doing so you are creating the life of the character when she is not seen in the script. You should note the following How much time has passed since we last saw the character What do you think the character was doing when he or she was not on the...

Monologue With Substitution

A good way to test choices that you have made for a Substitution is to see if you can instantaneously create your substitute with your key sense memory. Focus your concentration on the sensory key that you have chosen, and see how much of the Substitution experience it brings back. You should be emotionally connected very quickly. It isn't necessary to bring back the entire experience of the Substitution, only the portion of it that was strong for you. With time, actors learn how to gauge these...

The Actor And The Rushes

Viewing rushes for an actor is an acquired taste, and many actors do not want to see the rushes at all. They feel it makes their performance too self-conscious. Many, however, especially stars, demand it and have the right to be present written into their contracts. They want to maintain quality control over their work and voice their opinions about the direction the film is taking. Only stars of great popular value can place themselves in such a 2 position. oi Besides, a lot of directors feel...

The Call Sheet

On the opposite page is the call sheet, the shooting plan for the day. Every cast and crew member gets one. In the preproduction phase of the movie, all of the scenes have been given numbers in the consecutive order that they appear in the final shooting script. If there is a very long scene, it may be given more than one number, so that it can be broken up into workable sections. Each character in the movie has also been given a number. That is how the scenes, and the characters that are...

The Inner Monologue

It is inevitable that the Gibberish eventually becomes words. Actors are always worrying about the words. Do I have to learn the words Will I remember the words What do the words mean And so on. At this point in the game, the words don't matter. The only important thing is that the words be directly connected to what you are thinking or feeling in the moment. Uncensored, not-thought-out, inexplicable words and sentences that comprise the Inner Monologue. In my classes, I usually suggest that...