Actor/Director Film Lab

 

Actor/Director Film Lab

 

Lesson Info

Actor Critique: Speed

How about we do some communication experimentation? We have. We happen just coincidently have a few actors with us today who are going to work with us. How you guys feeling about working? Yeah. You have no option. You realize that. It's too late. Okay. Cool. So let's, let's let's work. But I want to work in this sort of more dedicated fashion in the sense of less about vocabulary and more about how the camera responds to performance that's kind of our our new lesson, jumping into this idea of how does a camera respond to forms of performance? Later in the course, we're going to talk about what I call myths a myth, you know, film actors. I don't know if you guys have ever taken a film acting class. You always told what not to do it's like children. When you tell them everything you you can tell a child what not to do or what to do and it's all this sort of different psychological repercussions and vibrations to me were always telling actor actors in general, are always time don't do tha...

t. Don't do that, I mean that. Boys the heck out of me and also I don't find it productive because then you just create paranoia so today what we're going to do is we're going to try to find some border lines that actors confined useful and then to me the great actor like the great painter can paint within the borderlines if you watch a bergman film, you know, one of the hardest things to do is acting close up on a technical level focus it's easier to fall out of focus when you're in that close approximately sometimes when you're acting in close up your distance to the camera itself could be a detriment some actors don't want the camera here some actors are much more comfortable with the camera a mile away so all of these decisions of filmmaker makes just to go back to the filmmaker psychology the great filmmakers no, you know birdman understood I'm going to put the camera right here in level months face and you know what birdman used to do to balance that self consciousness is he would sit right next to the camera and he would say to her, don't act to the camera back to me and we've always talks about how great an audience bergman wascause bergman used to stay right near the camera right to may so again the great actor and the great filmmaker unfortunately or fortunately the act the filmmaker builds the mass trap you know we're going to talk later about actor power versus control you know we're going to have some amazing guests with us who have gone through the business on both sides in this idea of or the our actors to powerful do they not have known about b that is it may the irony of control and power when you're looking at acting and filmmaking is an actor can get a director fired you know the most powerful actor is more powerful than the most powerful filmmaker I mean you know read any website you can see this happening around you however, and this may or may not be a good thing, but I think it's why I wanted to filmmaking in that acting this tool has comes with its own psychology and really the ownership of this tool is the jurisdiction of the filmmaker so that the mouse trap the mass trap is ultimately in the filmmakers hands but to me an actor benefits from being caught the trap and that's what's challenging about being a film actor we don't want to be caught in traps it doesn't, you know, but every film is a trap film is a finite limited object if I'm acting and close up and the cameras here but I'm over there it doesn't matter I could be giving the best performance of richard the third since olivia but the cat we've got to create this communion between the camera and the performance so let's look at that which is the two of you wants to jump up first you're both going to go this has always happens in acting classes that's see what they just did? It always happens they look at each other you want to go over your, uh short straw sir what's your name? Yeah, really come up here, man mr meet you were from, uh live work coming out so ok san diego before that and soviet union back in the bed sort of all those places so we're going we're going toe do a little work with him alex I think will give that'll be his mark and anyone can correct me if that's not a good mark for him. Okay, so what we're gonna do is we're going to look at some we're going to deconstruct some common points of acting technique with ilya and see where they fall do they fall within the realm of craft productivity or they just kind of a taste mechanism? I tell my film students all the time there's a difference between craft and taste. This is an important distinction when you watch him of see there's a difference between what you like and something we'll execute in my advanced age I could go to a movie and not like it but can see the craft that's another part of this film actor craft psychology cauldron were concocting so let's look at some craft let's see where the craft and taste fall these would be a couple of acting points first one is speed okay do you have something prepared for us today? Okay how long has it been in two minutes okay I may cut you off you got the job though you got the part already I just cut made cut you off in the spirit of time so ilia right yes what a cool name julia is going to do his peace once without any information and he also has to not hear me for this although he khun obviously but he's an actor he can act like he doesn't hear me I want him to do his piece just straight whatever he wants to do instinctually what I want us to do is this is a really important point of craft as well you're the crew now you're not actors now this is the money I'm going to talk is it really is not here this is not the money this is the money this is your money forget the crew year the producers now even worse so this is what you want to say you want to see how it reads here okay forget this this doesn't exist okay so delia is going to do now the first thing I want to give billions as the filmmaker with the cinematographer is what we call an eye line okay, so what the island is I literally want to give him a fixed point to observe where he's going to speak now, anything from honest set to most importantly, in a screen test, one of them more interesting grounding questions and actor can ask. And if you want to sound smart is what's my eye line. Where do you want me to look? Use that vocabulary I line first when you want me to look is a little nebulous what's my island. So I'm going to establish the island with alex now again, don't get deceived. Watch that principle. You could watch me because I'm fascinating, obviously, but this is where the money is. Ok, so, alex, just give me your eyes here, okay? Now lower your eyes here. Closer to the camera. Awesome that's his eye line. Okay, I'm going to move my fist because I want to watch your performance. But that's your eye line. Okay, now do your performance on whatever comes natural watches. Performance. Yeah, ok, can I move a little bit? How much you want to move? Yeah, I don't know if a human being can move that way, but if you can pull it off good for you so he's also asked a great question, actually on a level of craft man move it's z it's an intelligent question from an actor not that not there all night but what I'm saying is on the level of craft and how this is going to work there and there he's saying what's my what's my limitation I love when actors ask what can I do now? I almost didn't want to answer that question but I just want to be polite because it was a great question do whatever you want okay? We'll find it ok, so we're going to roll on this so what will also do is give a semi standard call out for how we would roll he has his eye line if he hasn't lost it and if you have don't worry about because it's been a while I'm going to do with a call out okay, so what we typically say his roll camera that's typically the call after the camera operator to roll the camera listen to his response to me because he's going to give me a cube that I know as jack lemmon likes to say the spaghetti is going through this beginning machine okay all right so standby which is a typical call out quite please and roll camera so he said cameras rolling, speeding any sort of thing he wants to give me I know we're rolling standby quiet please and action you ever seen those snickers commercials? The ones were someone's like a cranky grandma conducting a symphony and then someone gives her a snickers and she turns into this confident young conductor the guy who gives the sneakers always says the same thing you're not you when you're hungry what does that mean like actually who else am I who else could I possibly be on any day feeling any feeling other than myself and my mason point five if I don't sleep enough mason two point oh if I win a game it sounds like something that makes absolutely no sense but I had a day last week when I felt like I was someone else all right so listen only to me and ignored them so what I want you to do in a way if you hadn't done it record that just in a general sense of what you got the death I want you to do it again the first the first frame of reference we're going to challenge is speed this is a common point of craft that I think needs dissection and we're going to dissect it how does speed affect his performance had is literally the act of changing his speed affected again craft versus taste this is always in that frame I'm going to give him some craft feedback but I want you to be able to give kraft and taste feedback so what I want you to do is do what you did twice as fast ok stand by so he is going to do it again twice as fast. Watch the monitor. Yeah, ok. Standby. Quiet, please. Roll camera. This's ilias monologue. Scene one. Take two. And actually, you ever see those snickers commercials? The ones where someone's like ah, cranky grandma conducting literally twice. See? You see what he's doing, which is great he's. Not doing it because I'm not asking him to do something. That's instinctual. I'm using him as a lab rat for a moment. Give yourself over to it, he's trying to act it. Which is right. I want to experiment with him. Go faster. Okay. Still rolling. Standby. Quiet, please. And you ever see those snickers commercials? The ones where someone's like a cranking grandma conducting a symphony. And then someone gives her snickers and she turns into this young, confident conductor. The guy who gives her the sneakers always says the same thing. You're not you when you're hungry. What does that mean? What? What? What does it mean for me to ever not be myself? Could I ever wake up and not be me and my mason two point? Oh, when I win a game of mason point five. If if I don't wake up early enough thank you okay, so we're going to watch that back the guys they're going toe it up you can come up with we're going to re thread that and watch it again let's work with this recent get him some feedback just what we would call in mid air you could stand however you want there's a good student I cast him any that he's all about listening is good listener give him some feedback on those differences when he did it faster given some feedback, any thoughts be specific notes in general and film and acting and screenwriting stuff like it was funnier is not is important and another part of feedback a great teacher taught me is it's not about what you would do it's about trying to understand what happened and you can always say things like this was clear this was less clear you know, I'm saying a za point of craft when when when I'm a director talking to an actor again every director is different I may say that sucks or it may not mean said that wasn't clear what what were you doing here so again what did you think about the two versions? Yeah ok first version was kind of dragging and it wasn't that emotional but when we use did two times faster you got more passionate and it was more interesting ok cool I felt that just the first time it it felt more just like a pondering like whom I'm waking up, and I'm thinking about this thing, and then the second time that you did it, it was more like stream of consciousness like you were just did it just like these air, just my thoughts, and they're just coming out of my mouth and I'm not thinking about them, so I'm going to take these too parts of observation, and I'm going to I'm going to spin it in a different word because I think what speed can do, which you exemplified really well is provide focus, it could provide focus because what I saw and what you're doing, which was fascinating, he didn't. He eliminated a lot of the fat on the performance. I mean, I'm using my own terms filmmaker, another filmmaker, another teacher, another act and teacher to me, he said it was a little bit of panic, which in a performance is not a bad thing. It created an interesting sense of rhythm. I think it threw you out of your human in expectation of what you were doing, but it's also like thinking less it's kind of like, you know, when something happens at the last minute and you've got to adjust, sometimes the adjustment needs to something great sometimes itjust becomes a riel cannot even say should show sorry should show I'll have that sometimes it becomes a mess, you know? I think ophelia, I'm not I don't know the character and I don't know the style of the piece I'm just looking technically now let's look deeper technically what it did do on a technical level, we're giving him emotional feedback well, giving some technical feedback technical feedback is it kept let's watch it! Thank you, john that's what? Really a watch it with us, man thank you so quiet, please and you see the snickers commercial stuff, you hold it so sorry I'm so sorry that that would be great. So what are already seeing technically is his eyes or higher this second performance? You dropped your eyes less we're going to talk about eyes later film see how his eyes were dropped here film doesn't like that the reason why it doesn't like that is it confuses the camera. I'm not saying it's always a bad thing remember back earlier in the course and we're going to talk about eyes more specifically later in the course. This is a great example eyes hitchcock understood this probably more than any filmmaker, rational or not, when we see a performance, we tune into the eyes the eyes control are they guide us in such a pathological psychological ways, so in terms of craft, the use of the eyes not not don't blink or not we'll cover we're going to cover some myths later in the course but the use of the eyes the eyes as a tool it's really important uh uh pin tio place in craft for film acting and it's a great note you khun given actor to adjust their performance totally I could sometimes give save an actor let's do it again doing exactly the same way just keep your eyes up and the performance changes I gave him the note of speed because I want to see what speed did no speed kept his head up it kept his head up now let's look this is a great frame john in the booth is focused on because look at his eyes or dropped now what that does is in a way it denies depth if we're gonna talk about this later in the course of giving example this is a glass of water okay I feel like a magician I'm going to pull a rabbit if I'm drinking this you in the room no or if I'm staring at you in the room no that I'm staring at it why you have special context you see this you see this space between the glass in my stomach which is getting smaller every day you see this space and you see the depths behind me and you understand that my eyes are looking down at it that camera does not understand that it doesn't so these eyes they pacified the frame it pacify eyes the experience so I'm not saying he can't do that and I'm not saying great actors don't look down when they're being filmed I'm saying this pattern of looking down on camera is a passive pattern does that make sense? You may not be able to feel it you know later on we're going to talk about myth busting and one of the myths were going addresses do you blink like they always say great film actors don't blink a lot if you watch nicholson a few good men monologue which again is cliche and his unoriginal as it sounds that's amazing it's an amazing monologue that uh did you order the code red to you that we live in a thing that needs walls and you know it's actually stunning kraft I mean one of the one of the disadvantages to becoming cliches we forget how great he doesn't blink but to me he doesn't blink because he can't blank if he blinks he loses if that character blanks his argument changes you know it's like you talking to me you talking to me? You know deniro in taxi driver you know why you know why that's great it's not that he's not blinking that makes a great it's that that scene is about a shootout you know it's about whoever blinks gets shot so if the craft is married if the myth is, we talk about this later. But if the myth is married to something that's in the performance, it works eyes can we roll it? John? Quiet, please. And that's his eyes. You ever see those sneakers? You how their holes like that was like a grand way. He's undecided here's in a strong competent you feel her eyes speed thie speed has forces eyes so I like that already. What? What would it mean for everybody myself? Could I ever wake up and not me and my mason she's got the job? Thanks, man. Do you feel that the detention of speed has kept everything up? And when the body comes up, the eyes go up. I'm not saying eyes up equals great film acting not what I'm saying. I'm saying it is one of the challenges of depth. Speed here forced everything up now it couldn't to your credit, it could have done the opposite. Sometimes speed will have you of but then you see that it affects the eyes. Speed usually is connected to that which we see. Our inner metabolism is often connected to our intake of images and things. So as speed changes, the eyes are affected very intimately.

Class Description

The relationship between the filmmaker, the actor, and the camera is an integral part of every production, but is rarely discussed. In Actor/Director Film Lab, Robert Milazzo explores cinematographic craft and collaboration and its relationship to acting and performance.

In this beginner-friendly class, both filmmakers and actors learn new ways to work together to bring their best work to life. Filmmakers develop new skills for effectively communicating and collaborating with performers. Actors learn how cameras capture performance and how to adjust their work to suit a production’s technical realities.

Actor/Director Film Lab equips those who work on both sides on the camera with insights that improve their working/artistic relationships, while strengthening the quality of their professional film work.

Special Guests:

  • David Morse, Actor 
  • Kasi Lemmons, Writer/Director/Actor 
  • Keith Gordon, Writer/Director