Actors

A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
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Ned Cordery

Actors

Post by Ned Cordery » Fri Jan 10, 2003 7:15 pm

Any narrative film will require the participation of actors. What do people
here do for actors and what is their experience(OK AN I know that paper clips
are well trained and experienced)? Most amateur narrative films are let down
by the acting which in turn suggests the directors aren't very good either.
Acceptable camera skills can be learnt in about a week, lighting takes longer,
sound requires an investment in decent microphones and learning how to use
them - all craft skills learnt by teaching/reading/practice. But acting and
directing? The gap between awful and good is wide - how can amateurs bridge
it?

It is possible to make an effective short without using words but it is extremely
difficult to make a really effective narrative film without words. Yes, I
know that "The General" and "Gold Rush" work, but made by experts.

Sub titles are a pain. A well dubbed film is much better - a good example
is "Das Boot" I much prefer the dubbed version. Badly dubbed films are often
much funnier than intended, taken to the limit in "What's up Tiger Lily"


Ned C

AN

Re: Actors

Post by AN » Sat Jan 11, 2003 12:30 pm

"Ned Cordery" <forums@theiac.org.uk> wrote:
Any narrative film will require the participation of actors. What do people
here do for actors and what is their experience(OK AN I know that paper
clips
are well trained and experienced)?
Yeh, they all went to RADA.....They'd all rada dance than clip paper together.
:-)
But acting and directing?
The gap between awful and good is wide - how can amateurs bridge
it?
As said before, study as many good films/books as possible. Use
amateur drama society members instead of Auntie Flo and Uncle Fred in the
cast.
Maybe study potential actors to see how they tick...laugh/temper/frowning/arguementative
etc and write a script to suit their natural characteristics. In this way
one may get better less hammy results. If amateurs try to match friends/relations
to pre written script characters I wish them the best of luck!....Ham results
will near certainly be guaranteed.

Albert...a guaranteed hammy one.

Ned Cordery

Re: Actors

Post by Ned Cordery » Sun Jan 12, 2003 4:24 pm

"AN" <Animation@btopenworld.com> wrote:

As said before, study as many good films/books as possible. Use
amateur drama society members instead of Auntie Flo and Uncle Fred in the
cast.
Maybe study potential actors to see how they tick...laugh/temper/frowning/arguementative
etc and write a script to suit their natural characteristics. In this way
one may get better less hammy results. If amateurs try to match friends/relations
to pre written script characters I wish them the best of luck!....Ham results
will near certainly be guaranteed.

Albert...a guaranteed hammy one.

My experience with actors from drama societies has been very mixed and auditioning
with a piece to camera essential and then the problems of the rejected. Professionals
are used to rejection amateurs don't like it no matter how gently delivered.
I agree that you have to cast for "type" as make up at this level will not
make a 25 year old look like a 70 year old. (any suggestions for going in
the other direction?).

Ned C

AN

Re: Actors

Post by AN » Mon Jan 13, 2003 12:53 pm

"Ned Cordery" <goslands@infowest.com> wrote:
My experience with actors from drama societies has been very mixed and auditioning
with a piece to camera essential and then the problems of the rejected.
Yes a real pain all that. Aw, just tell em to hop it!
Other ideas to get around hammy acting is to use stop motion jump cuts in
a 'jerky scenario' Usefull technique for comedy but can also be used in drama
if one uses a bit of imagination. This masks out all hammyness.

To overcome bland commentary problems use a child/children as voice over.
Another idea...I am considering making a film entitled
"Adam and Eve and Heave!" In this both a male and female will do entire
voice overs...THEN on NLE timeline I shall select alternate male/female voice
for alternate words. So if, for example, saying, "The cat sat on the mat."
This would become (F=female voice. M= male voice).........
..... "The(M) cat(F) sat(M) on(F) the(M) mat(F)". This alternation should
mask out any wooden/bland sounding voices..
..maybe!
We amatuers have to use every device possible in order to overcome the weaknesses
of our cast/lighting/sound/music etc
which the pros do not have.
Gee, why not go the whole hog and *deliberately* use bland/boring commentary
and hammy acting if subject comically warrants it?
How about the director appearing in frame and continually apologising for
his hammy actors performance?...!!
So make your film's apparent weakness the films greatest strength.

Albert...going from strength to strength.

Dave Watterson

Re: Actors

Post by Dave Watterson » Mon Jan 13, 2003 1:31 pm

Oddly enough I was chatting on the phone with Bert McReady of Mac Movies while
some of these postings were going up. We were agreeing that little attention
is paid in most amateur film making circles to "man management" (term to
be extended to cover men, women and performing animals as politically necessary).

Most professional performers are notoriously sensitive, finicky, fussy and
downright awkward about some aspects of their craft. Getting the best from
them means approaching them carefully, tailoring remarks to their personality,
trying to manipulate them by fair means or foul into giving the performance
you want.

As amateurs we can spend a lot of time discussing lighting, camera angles,
microphone placement etc and all too often give our cast minimal direction.

Those not used to acting need to be told not to "pretend they are a bank
manager/hobbit/ghost" or whatever but to "be a bank manager/hobbit/ghost"
and to stay in character. Not many people realise the importance of reacting
in character to what other performers are saying or doing. (Such reaction
shots are cheap to capture on video and invaluable as cut-aways at editing
stage.)

But more than that ... a successful director needs to be able to jolly along
her or his crew to get the best from them.

Perhaps we need a series of web/magazine articles on management?

Dave

Ned Cordery

Re: Actors

Post by Ned Cordery » Mon Jan 13, 2003 5:31 pm

"Dave Watterson" <webmaster@theiac.org.uk> wrote:
Most professional performers are notoriously sensitive, finicky, fussy and
downright awkward about some aspects of their craft. Getting the best from
them means approaching them carefully, tailoring remarks to their personality,
trying to manipulate them by fair means or foul into giving the performance
you want.
I have directed professional actors in a number of Corporate productions
and have never had an ego problem with any of them and found them very co-operative.
Perhaps this is because they are from the middle and lower ranks of the profession
and happy to be working. The great skill they bring is an ability to "become
" the character and be able to repeat a performance with subtle variations
and enjoy doing it after waiting an hour for the lighting changes. Of course
they need encourangement and recognition and understanding of their needs.
I took an acting course to try and understand actors, I hadn't bargained
for the public performance at the end of the course but I learnt a lot, not
least that I would never be an actor. The problem with amateur actors is
that after the first hour they find the whole film making experience very
boring.
As amateurs we can spend a lot of time discussing lighting, camera angles,
microphone placement etc and all too often give our cast minimal direction.
This happens in the professional world as well. Many directors are essentially
technical directors and their argument is that if they hire Jack Nicholson
then he sure knows how to act so all they have to do is give him an idea
of what they want and he does it with ten variations. This is where life
is so much more difficult for the amateur director.

Ned C

AN

Re: Actors

Post by AN » Wed Jan 15, 2003 2:46 pm

"Ned Cordery" <goslands@infowest.com> wrote:
Many directors are essentially
technical directors and their argument is that if they hire >Jack Nicholson
then he sure knows how to act so all they have to do is give >him an idea
of what they want and he does it with
ten variations.
At 10-20 million dollars per picture he'd do it with 100 variations! That's
200k dollar per minute screen time.
Anyway JN is OK in goofy parts but I'd like to see him in a truly real romantic
straight part....if he could play it well??
He's too type cast isn't he for those parts.

Albert..putting another Nickle(son)in.

Ken Wilson

Re: Actors

Post by Ken Wilson » Thu Jan 16, 2003 12:11 am

"AN" <Animation@btopenworld.com> wrote:
"Ned Cordery" <goslands@infowest.com> wrote:

Many directors are essentially
technical directors and their argument is that if they hire >Jack Nicholson
then he sure knows how to act so all they have to do is give >him an idea
of what they want and he does it with
ten variations.

At 10-20 million dollars per picture he'd do it with 100 variations! That's
200k dollar per minute screen time.
Anyway JN is OK in goofy parts but I'd like to see him in a truly real romantic
straight part....if he could play it well??
Try "As Good as it Gets." Slightly "goofy" but a good film. Ken

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