Friday, April 27, 2018

It Is Not a Thing It Is a Process

Your relationship, your job, your career, the roles you book: none of these are static, fixed, set things like a book, a chair or a mountain are (nor are those strictly permanent unchanging things either). They are all processes. Or if you prefer another word for them: a journey, a path, a story. Life is a process. Ongoing.

A romantic relationship may feel like a thing, and it can be tempting to think one can set-it-and-forget-it, that somehow it can reach a state of being exactly what it is now forever without modification. This is not the case. If you don't believe me, try it and you'll see how quickly stagnation will propel something to give.

So to with almost any task you can make something fixed, unchanging, like:

Once these things are made, once they cross the threshold of complete (a threshold likely placed where everyone finds convenient or useful) they aren't the same as they were. Once

it is different and we judge it differently; we use things and see them differently once they've "done," but they all still change. The

If a movie does get distributed, it either succeeds commercially or not in various markets/platforms/ways it is released. A distributed movie likely evolves at some point into whether or not it will get sequels, re-releases or re-masterings and even novelizations, theme park rides and other possibilities. If a movie is not distributed relatively quickly, it maybe molders in a vault (physical or digital) waiting to either be forgotten, or for something outside of it to change, like the cultural currents, a performer's career arc, or something else and then is released and follows that trajectory.

The point is, even though we think in the moment, we live in the now and think of stuff as fixed, and it's very useful to think of them as things, they aren't: everything is changing, always.

(Note: yes, eventually the universe may even change its innate tendency toward change by going through a heat death, heat a proxy for movement/change here. This heat death sounds grim but is really just change itself changing into something else sort of [I'm wildly oversimplifying the current thinking on the cosmology of the universe which is a bit beyond what I want to focus on today]).

What does this mean for us as actors? What does this possibly too abstract and maybe rambling mean for us? Our roles, our work and our whole careers are not things, they are a process, or a bunch of processes; we are on a journey. We are following a path. Our path as actors, our character's journeys are not a things while we are on them. Only looking back will we be able to even sum them up in any way. We make sense and tell ourselves a story of what happened once it has happened, once it is "done." It might be cliché, but all we do as actors is more a path than a place.

Tempting to simply end this post with the glib "life is a journey not a destination," but there are two problems with that. One: it is boring, which is usually not a great choice for an actor. Two: it is passive. We are not simply along for a ride. We are actors. We act. Our very job title is entirely focused on us doing stuff, taking action. Whether or not the universe cooperates and complies with our intentions with our choices, whether or not we get what we want after we do what we do, is not our responsibility.

You could think of it as above our pay grade as humans to decide entirely the outcome of anything. Results are not our problem. Results are more like things. The path leads to the results, the story leads to its end, and the journey, the process is our world. It our focus, and where our roles, careers and lives actually happen.

We don't watch a film for just see the last two seconds and the credits; when we focus on our process, or role in things, then we can make a difference. It is as I have said before: it is not our job to book, it is our job to do what we do. Focus on your process. Focus on what you can do. Or so says my ramblings on a Thursday at a few minutes to midnight.

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Friday, April 13, 2018

No More Auditions in Hotel Rooms or Residences

Years ago, a film invited me to audition and a casting director I shall not name here said, to make everyone more comfortable we're having the auditions at the producer's house, in their living room. When I thanked them for the invitation and said I would not be able to attend because it was in the producer's home, I was yelled at for being somehow foolish and unprofessional. I told myself then I should simply have declined and given no reason, which would likely have avoided the yelling. It is good now to see that none of us were the ones being unprofessional to expect a job interview to happen in a place business is conducted.

To help protect members from potential harassment and exploitation, SAG-AFTRA released today a Guideline that calls for an end to the practice of holding professional meetings in private hotel rooms or residences.

(from SAG-AFTRA 's Code of Conduct, Guideline No. 1).

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Tuesday, April 03, 2018

When Things Are Broken, Act Anyway

The text of what I say in this video, in case you would rather read instead of watch and listen:
Sometimes things don't seem to be working the way that we imagined they would be if things were ideal. See, as an actor, it's very easy to use one's imagination to picture how things could be if only. And so, you can find yourself on a set that doesn't have the ability or the time to get the shot they wanted to get: so they have to make some sort of compromise. Or you can find yourself in your own life working on something and you have to compromise something, or for some other reason something's not working right. But the key is: we have to lives anyway.

See, this isn't something that just applies to acting this is something that can apply to everything you're doing. Like right now, there's the sound of a highway sort of in the background. I'm using this partly to, hopefully, make it not as easy to hear. But the point is: you're never going to actually have the ideal situation but you still have to try to do the best you can, (whether it's acting, or living, or whatever), even though things aren't going precisely the way you would have them if it were 100 percent in your control (which it never is going to be).

So basically... I'm reminded of a friend at a party. I saw this friend hearing another friend (really more of an acquaintance) sharing one of those pieces of Hollywood "conventional wisdom" that's more conventional than actually wise. And my friend, I noticed, immediately almost built a blind spot over what that person was saying. Just completely didn't give it another moment's attention. It was actually kind of inspiring, because they were hearing nonsense, something that was not useful, not constructive to hear, and they pretty much decided not to hear it. And it's made me think that sometimes:

but whatever the case: you still need to do your work as best you can because you want to book the job. And it's not about booking the job in the audition, it's about showing them what you can do. Because if you end up on set who knows what other kind of chaos, ridiculousness, or highway noise there's going to be.

You still need to do the work that is your work to do, even if the world isn't entirely cooperating. You can even have an agent put tremendous pressure on you to book something, maybe because they're having trouble paying their bills, and your job is to go into that audition and show the people in the audition room what you do, not to actually book the work even if that's something your agent is all but insisting you do, and sometimes doing in the most unconstructive, unsupportive terms. (I mention this because many years ago I had an agent who had a habit of not insulating their talent from pressure.)

So yes, in a perfect world people configure things such that between action and cut, or between curtain up and curtain down, an actor can do their best work. But we aren't in a perfect world. So we have to try to make sure we do our best work even if the world's not cooperating. And this applies to life too: you have to try to be the best friend, the best parent, the best child, the best sibling, the best significant other, and so forth, whether or not the world is cooperating.

Because you're never gonna get this moment, this day, this year, back. The time is gonna pass anyway, and as an old mentor once said, your time is the sum total of all of your wealth. So that is my vaguely deep insights on a Monday. And if anyone would like some acting coaching: let me know I'm taking new clients. Thanks for watching.

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