Saturday, September 28, 2013

Activity is Not Accomplishment

Never confuse movement with action.

- Ernest Hemingway

We are all busy, but what are we getting done? Often it may be just the daily tasks that make our lives run. Groceries, laundry, sleep. We like to eat, wear clothes and be rested, so these make sense. But many other things, don't.

I've mentioned before value of quitting unproductive things but today I'd like share some quick thoughts on what we do that may not do much. Getting likes on Facebook may not directly lead to bookings. But an effective social media presence can. Going to class everyday may not instantly get you a paid role. But delivering well honed skills between action and cut might. Reading another script may not translate the day into working on set. But understanding story and characters may make you easier to book.

As I mentioned earlier this week about commitment, balance counts. Knowing where to keep the balance between ruthless abandonment of the un-useful and the dedicated follow-thru on beneficial things may not be easy, or always apparent. But take the leap of faith and do what you can, no more no less. Break a leg.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

To Go Where You Have Not Gone

You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again. Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
- T. S. Eliot, via Leo Kei Angelos

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Commitment Needs Doubt

Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt but in spite of doubt.

- Rollo May

In a role, in a relationship, in really anything, if you are absolutely certain of something, you may be missing deeper levels, using a shorthand or skating toward fanaticism.

You think you know precisely how to play the part, down to exactly when to tilt your head to the left 40 degrees. But the audience laughter changes the timing of your delivery or makes your lines unheard. Or the camera move means you must look left instead of right. Be too rigid and the reality of the moment goes out the window, and not in a good way.

You have become so accustomed to how this moment plays out, that an almost laziness leads you to indicate in the direction of what is happening, instead of living the uncertainty of not knowing what comes next. The script suggests the next moment is thus and such, and the set may shift unexpectedly, and now the audience collectively inhales because something new has clearly happened. Abbreviate your work and you're stuck...scrambling to adjust. Or the character your character is dating was a lawyer when they met, so your character assumes they'll always be satisfied being a lawyer. Even as they drift toward their next chapter, your character remains in the last, eventually leaving you both looking different directions toward the future. For the next 90 minutes the audience watches the movie to see if you'll reconnect or break apart.

The role you play is someone who decided long ago what elements they wanted in their life, from the color of the wedding reception centerpieces to how many kids they'll have, and has fastidiously found the pieces to put together that certain, safe, appealing-right-now-so-what-could-possibly-change-in-the-future-if-our-curtains-are-egg-shell-colored-now life. Then boredom and lack of surprise set in just as the selected-because-they-fit-the-criteria spouse comes home one day to announce they've fallen in love with someone...else. Chaos, mayhem and murders ensue, in the story (and awards come your way) as the absolute certainty about the trivial unravels in the face of deeper intangible truths winning out.

Good performances can come from not holding back, being committed to the work, the moments, and the role. And yet, at the same time the best work is accidental behavior captured on film. As with many things, balance is the optimal path. Being committed, in the best way, to the right things. So commit, but not foolishly. And best of luck, break a leg.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jon Kilik Rebuts Dire Predictions

...my advice to us, all of us, from film students to Spielberg, Lucas and Soderbergh, all of us who make human movies that we care about, my advice is to ignore the prophecies, DON’T RETIRE, and keep on making films and showing films by any means available. Build and they will come.
So why the doom and gloom about the film industry? Yes it's true that movies have become a crass commercial commodity at times and studios have crowded these spectacles into theaters at a disproportional rate. But it's also true that sensitive, brave, personal, and courageous work is being done everyday. For every tent pole being built pixel by pixel in a Hollywood Laboratory, there is a young filmmaker like Benh Zeitlin going into the bathtub of New Orleans with a small cast and crew and a 16MM camera to create a uniquely personal vision. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" found its way all the way to the White House and to the Oscars. For every sequel that's being churned out, there is something new and original fighting to be born. It's never been harder and it's never been easier. I guess it's been like that all along

(from Producer Jon Kilik Rebuts Recent Comments By Soderbergh, Spielberg And Lucas In IFP Market Keynote).

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hard and Fast Rules

There are no hard and fast rules in Hollywood. Even this isn't a hard and fast rule. So: there are few hard and fast rules in Hollywood.

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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Get Up When You Have Nothing Left and Push On

Faith is being able to see the unseen and believe in it's ability to manifest itself. That you can put in the work and consistency, take the action necessary on that belief and make it known. Bring it to life. It's how it's always been with everything you've done in the last few years, even the things considered by some to be crazy or undoable [sic]. But there's always that other moment, after taking the actions, when the obstacles are truly approached and the universe sets up that particular gap in the road for a decision. The sacrifice that has to be made and what you are willing to go through, give up or endure in order to make the miracle happen. To, in fact, become the miracle. Something worth fighting for. Something worth trying for. Something that becomes, in itself, the reward just for striving for. To get up when you have nothing left and push on and-

(from David Spaltro's status: And you crashed hard).

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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Base Camps Are Dreary

All base camps are dreary, but they're our homes away from home.

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