Steve Cleberg
January 15, 2012

 

When an actor picks up a script, they need to regard it in the same way that a musician regards a piece of sheet music. Those who have no training in music will look at a piece of sheet music and try to glean its contents from the lyrics. The trained musician, on the other hand, is able to discern a complete performance by marrying the words to the musical notations. They grasp the structure of what is before them. The same must be true for the actor and their script.

However, a script doesn’t have the precise notations that are found with music. To the musician, what is on the page means something very specific. The ambiguity of the script gives the actor more freedom in the choices they make but it also makes finding the vital structure of the script more challenging.

This freedom without discipline often results in preparation for a role which involves a general read through of the script followed by a line by line approach, in an attempt to arrive at a realistic line delivery. There is no attempt to put together a complete performance based on the structure of the script. The result is a shallow performance.

The structure of the script is the structure of action. The words on the page give clues to the action in the same way that the lines on an architectural blueprint can suggest a structural aspect of an entire design. To understand the structure of action, one must understand three basic ingredients.  When working on the script, the actor should constantly focus on answering these questions:

What does my character want?
What’s preventing them from getting what they want?
When does what they want change?

The answer to the first question leads to what is often referred to in the acting lexicon as the “objective.”  All action is based on desire. The stronger the desire, the more interesting the action.  The actor must discover what their character’s objectives are, in every scene in which they appear, in the strongest and most specific terms. They must arrive at objectives that are both powerful and playable.

The actor must also select objectives that they can make personal. It’s not enough to pretend that you’re going after what your character wants; you need to want it yourself and go after it until you’ve captured it for your character. Robert Cohen called this “victory oriented” acting.

But there is a paradox in this dynamic. How can the actor go after their character’s objective in powerful and playable terms even though the success or failure of their character’s quest is predestined by the script? In other words, it’s hard to genuinely pursue a victory at anything when you know the outcome. There are a few techniques that the actor must use in order to overcome this paradox.

The test of your action lies in the other actors. And I mean, specifically, the other actors; not the characters that the other actors are playing. In the process of attempting to win your character’s goal you must do so by, personally and genuinely, affecting the other actors around you.  Make it personal. Don’t think of yourself as a character surrounded by other characters. You are playing yourself, in the service of your character, and you are surrounded by real people who happen to be playing characters. These people need to be moved and changed by the needs of your character. Playing your objective in such personal terms will help to diminish the forgone conclusion in the script.

The actor in search for the structure of their performance will experiment with different possibilities when determining what objectives they will pursue for their character. They will arrive at the objectives which best serve their character’s desires and allow for the most powerful and playable actions.

As an actor, you “play” your objective. But there is something that the actor must also actively “play against” in order to remain in the moment. I’ll cover this dynamic and continue our examination of the structure of acting in the next entry.

Stock Music Store
February 10, 2014
In addition to being a composer and music producer, I spend a fair amount of time directing voice actors for various types of projects. I thought I’d pass on a few ideas that have helped me along the way. Hire great talent Okay, this is not always going to be possible as budgets seem to get smaller and smaller. If you work with great voice actors, your project will immediately be better before you give one ounce of direction. I know this seems logical, but worth saying none the less. Don’t overwork the actors They’re going to be better earlier on before you tire them out. Record everything. You never know how good a take will be. Micromanaging is bad You probably have an idea in your head as to how you want them to say every word. There is more than one way. Think big picture and overall performance. It’s still a performance that needs rhythm, and pace. Not unlike a vocal performance in songs. Careful with line reads The better the actor, the less they like or need line reads. Dealing with takes Once you’ve zeroed in on a tone you like and the pace is set, let your voice talent do a few takes without interruption. If you like at least half of each performance, you’re probably going to be able to put a complete one together by combining lines from the different takes. Pick the best take and use it as your starting point. When you find a line you don’t like, take a listen to the other takes to find an alternate. After you’ve gone through the script and have the best lines edited together, listen through and see what you need to fix. Usually, you’ll be about 80 percent done and just have a few lines to record. This keeps your talent fresh and the session moving along at quicker pace. Be positive Everyone wants to do a good job and voice talent is no exception. Staying upbeat and focusing on the positive is going to get you a better performance every time. Don’t over-direct Sometimes saying less is saying more. See what develops and let the actor do their thing. Of course you need to set the stage and give them basic direction, but hopefully you’ve hired a professional who will bring something special to your project. A word about casting It’s easier than ever to have a great demo reel. When you’re looking for voice talent, listen for range, tone and diversity. Demos are a little like Photoshop, the real thing might not be as good. As always, feel free to send in questions or comments. DL Visit Stock Music Store at www.stockmusicstore.com

Marco Luca
July 18, 2013

Making a film is all fun and games until you realize you still need to work after your film is completely done. The online world is changing quickly, and compared to just half a decade ago, putting a film on YouTube or Vimeo won’t guarantee you views.

Being prepared should be your plan of attack

We touched on this briefly in our Short Guide to Making an Awesome Short, your marketing preparations should start from pre-production creating posters, blogs and social media pages.

Having a simple web page with a blog set up can be very beneficial to your film. If that’s not an easy thing for you, creating a Tumblr page can be just as effective. A Twitter account just for the movie is not necessary, since you will always start from zero followers, you can use your studio’s account or your personal one and promote through that. However on Facebook, it is beneficial to create a Page for the film, where people can like it and constantly get easy updates. If your studio or production company is big enough you can just use it’s Facebook page, just don’t use your personal account as the main source of promotion, use it sparingly to bring your friends to your page.

Description, keywords & SEO

But that’s all things done in pre production, now what do you do when your film just finished uploading online?

Start by finding a good title for your video. An important thing to keep in mind is to think like a Search Engine [read this interesting article on Thinking like a search engine on V3IM], think about the people that are looking for a film like yours, and what they would type to search for it. Your title should, or must include your movie title, putting your name is not necessary, unless your a well known person and your name is a commonly googled name, then use it for marketing purposes. Details like putting the term “short film” and the film genre in your title is at your discretion – but you don’t want it to be mixed up as the title of your film.


Read more about descriptions, keywords, SEO and Online Submissions on our full article

Stock Music Store
February 21, 2014

Having worked as a composer for over two decades, I’ve written music in most every genre and have a couple of view points that might be helpful in picking your next track.

Be open minded

I’ve presented original and production music to clients on hundreds of occasions. I always try to cover my bases by making sure that I have a very typical and safe option as well as a few “outside the box” choices. I hope that I can sell one of the less safe options, but most often this doesn’t happen.

There are a number of reasons why this occurs. Sometimes it’s because the decision is made “by committee”, or maybe the person choosing music is worried about what their boss will think and needs to be conservative and thirdly, people are used to hearing the “safe option”. 

I believe that in today’s world of music where genres overlap almost everywhere, there are no rules to what type of music should accompany your important project.

Choose interesting music

In a time where there is so much media and being heard is next to impossible, any advantage should be used. Music can be this advantage. Choosing interesting and “not typical” music can go a long way in making your project stand out. By using “safe”, uninteresting music, you might also achieve the opposite by having people tune out.

Music can work in many ways. Should it be busy and energetic? Should it be slow and dramatic? Should it be rock, pop, world, classical etc.? All of these are good questions and the answer to all of the above is…maybe. Forcing yourself to consider choices that you might otherwise have dismissed will have a profound effect on your project. These “outside the box” choices will not always work, but I know that once you do this a few times, you’ll start thinking differently about how you choose music, which will result in better choices.

Genres don’t matter to the listener

When you’re in the studio listening to music try to be objective and leave your personal taste out of it. I know this is hard to do, but try and think big picture. Most of the projects that people pay attention to likely have interesting music and the genre probably never comes into play other than possibly thinking about the interesting choice someone made. Think of all of the Apple ads you’ve seen. There are a lot of world elements in their music. Quirky, interesting and overlapping genres almost every time. Do they stand out? Of course they do. People like interesting music.

To sum things up

If you can, try putting different music choices against your mostly finished project. Don’t choose music before you begin. You’ll be amazed how a track that you may have dismissed on its own, sounds completely different against your project and changes the whole complexion of what you’re hearing and/or seeing.

 

This is a big reason that we allow you to download preview versions of all of our tracks for free.

 

I hope I’ve given you something to think about. Good luck with your projects.

 

DL

 

 

Visit Stock Music Store at www.stockmusicstore.com

Kim Welch
September 15, 2012

I just got back from the IBC tradeshow in Amsterdam. It was a very productive trip and I found a lot of new companies that make lights, rigs, lenses and gear to add to our list or prospects for workshops, advertisers and contest sponsors.  Also, it was really beautiful and the people in Holland are nice. I posted some of the photos on my facebook page. - check it out.  http://www.facebook.com/KimEwardWelch

Megan Guadalajara
September 9, 2011
I finally figured out a way to show you all my short films. I am not able to upload them anywhere else but here. So click on the link and if you have problems let me know, hope it works :). and any questions about them, let me know :) Here is the link http://my.mofilm.com/user/MegSG