Or How I Learned To Stop Being a Baby About It and Watch Myself on Screen
Yesterday, I traveled to Portland to participate in a Film Audition Intensive workshop. Portland has a thriving film community and so when I saw about the class, I jumped on the chance. I have taken a few film acting classes in the Seattle area but they seem mostly about Commercial acting and not necessarily FILM acting (which is SO not the same thing).
I was pretty pleased overall with the class. I feel that any opportunity to learn is a good thing. Life is absolutely what you make of it and that is especially true, I feel, when it comes to classes.
We were sent monologues two days ahead of time to learn for the class. I was a slacker and did not learn mine fully before class. I was telling myself that I did not have time but truthfully I did not make the time to learn it and I know it. I think in the back of my head I was afraid that I would not be able to go and I didn't want to get my hopes up by actually learning the piece. (I need to work on that)
There were 13 of us in the class and the instructor had brought in two friends of his that are heavily involved in film in both Portland and LA to act as "good cop/bad cop." The monologues had been doled out to us in groups of two and, lucky me, I was in the first group chosen to perform. We were not allowed to watch the person who was performing the same monologue we had so I was sent out to the waiting area while the first girl went.
When it was my turn, I walked into the room and went to my mark. I tried to remember what I had learned in other classes about taking all of my energy and emotion and condensing it to about ¼ its original size. I felt okay about what I did. I hate having to work with a script because of being so near sighted and the mild dyslexia. I felt my insides shaking but am not 100% sure if that was the "character" or if it was Sami Nerves causing it. The guests gave me some adjustments and I did it a second time – working very hard to incorporate the adjustments. I didn't like the second time as well because I felt like I was "acting" and I know on film "acting" is not desirable.
After everyone else went, we watched the tape of what we had all done and discussed them. At first I thought I could get away with NOT actually having to watch myself (I HATE watching myself on screen) but the instructor wanted us to critique our OWN work. SHIT. I had to actually watch it.
The FIRST thing I noticed was how tired I looked. I mean REALLY tired – bags under the eyes, grey-ish complexion, the works. I made a mental note to myself to wear more mineral makeup before my next taping session and then tried to focus on how I was DOING versus how I looked. Acting wise, I was actually pretty happy with what I saw. I was making very clear choices, my rate of speech was good, I was connected to the lines, my diction was not muddy. BUT my face was all over the place. DANG IT!
My face has ALWAYS been uber-expressive. On tape, I always look like my facial muscles are playing a fierce game of dodgeball and I have never really known how to stop that from happening. It causes most photos of me to have the strangest expressions and makes me pretty darn hard to shoot during performances if you want any hope of getting a shot of me looking anything resembling sane.
The feedback that they gave me was to just repeatedly put myself on tape and watch it and that – over time – I would get to the point that I would just know how to control the face and not have to "think" so much about it.
Watch myself on tape? On purpose?? Ohhhh geezz.
Well, if I have any hopes of getting over this latest neurosis, then putting myself on tape is EXACTLY what I am going to have to do. Maybe I will even turn it into a "thing" and invite some friends over, whip out some audition sides and put all of us on tape and make ourselves watch it. Maybe they are right. Maybe with practice – over time – my face will look more like a ballet than a rugby match.
A girl can always hope.