Question 1: Part 4; What is the conflict between the Characters?
Conflict is the basis of all story telling. It is essential. It is the most important part of story telling. Without conflict, we really don’t have a lot of story. Every single movie has a conflict. If the Joker didn’t create conflict for Batman, then Batman would have no reason to go save the world. There would be no story. Even if you’re not into the super hero movies, you’ll see conflict in other stories like between two lovers. Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again.
The problem I see actors do so often is over-complicate the conflict in the scene. So keep it really simple. Great example; Sally wants John to apologize. John doesn’t want to apologize. The way I see actors over-complicated it, is they might say “There is a war going on”. John and Sally are in a war. But the problem is outside of them. We want the conflict to be directly between the characters. It creates a connection and it gives you something to do. Remember, Acting is Doing.
Nearly every scene has a conflict, but there are some that don’t. One example might be John wants Sally to marry him, and Sally wants to marry him. In there, there is no conflict. They both want the same thing and it’s all about love. When you get that in a scene, you then want to go to ‘Question 3; What is the Experience of the Scene?’. I’ll explain it deeper in later videos, but I’ll give you a taste of it for now.
When there is no conflict in a scene, then we’ve got to have the experience of the scene. When two people are in love and want to get married, then we are watching the scene and the experience HAS to be there. If we’re not getting that experience and the feeling of two people who love each other and want to get married, then that scene doesn’t work. Just like if there is no conflict in the scene, then that scene isn’t going to work either.
Always make sure your conflicts are simple and very, very clear. Because remember in Question 1, you want to be able to look at it like a fly on the wall or from the 3rd person. You want to be able to see the story on the screen and you want to be able to clearly be able see what is happening.
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Question 1: Part 3, What Happened The Moment Before?
It’s really important to have a strong moment before, for 2 reasons. For one, as an actor it’s going to help jump start and get you into the scene. And two, it helps get the audience involved really quickly because they see the story already happening and they just have to follow along and get in there.
So how do you create a moment before? Or where does the moment before come from? You have to start by looking at the script. Sometimes it’s on the page and sometimes it’s not. I have 2 scripts from under 5 cold reads we have done in class. In the first script, it says: ‘Susie tears through a rack of clothes. A saleslady carefully approaches. “Miss, what’s happening?”‘. Let’s assume you are the saleslady. Your moment before is you see Susie tearing through a rack of clothes and then you carefully approach before you say “Miss, what’s happening?” So as an actor, you’ve got to create the moment. You’ve got to see that. You’ve got to see this lead actress tearing through all this stuff and it’s all becoming disarray. And then you might be careful as you walk over to her because she looks kind of important. You have to create all of the story before you say your first line.
In the other script, it says Hotel Guest Start. And then the hotel guest says their first line which is “Have we met?”. That’s it. There is no description of what happens the moment before. There is nothing to introduce the hotel guest. The hotel guest just says their first line. In this case, as an actor, you have to create that moment before for you. But make sure you create it based on information in the script. In this script, it later says that ‘such and such is suing you.’ The hotel guest is serving papers. So what’s important is that you know this is a hotel guest but it’s kind of a trick. You’re tricking them by asking if you’ve met and then you’re serving them papers. So what is the moment before? Even though the hotel guest has to look like it’s really casual when they say “Have we met?”, they are looking for this other character, specifically, so they can serve the papers. So as an actor, you have to create that space. You’re in a hotel lobby, and you’re looking around to see if the other character is there, and then you see them and say “Have we met?”.
You might not get a lot of time to create that moment before in the audition room, but what you can do, is start to create it before they even say action. Instead of waiting for them to say action, thinking of your first line, thinking is the camera ready, thinking should I start, you can be creating that moment before. If you’re thinking about all those other things, that is what will come through on the camera. Instead, you can immediately see yourself in the hotel lobby and you will be ready for when they call action. When you’ve already created the experience and the moment, that shines through and they can see that in the camera and in your audition.
So when you get your next audition, I want you to look at “What is the moment before?” Make a strong choice. Look at the script, see if it’s there. If it’s not on the script, then create it based on the story in the script. Don’t go make up something that isn’t there.
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Thank you to Abraham Lincoln; who felt that in the middle of the Civil War, we needed a National Holiday of gratitude. It reminds me that I always have something for which to be grateful. I thought I’d share my gratitude list with you this year.
Here’s my life of things I am grateful for:
1. All of you who read my Acting Tips and have started watching my vlogs. Thank you for the opportunity to teach, inspire, inform, and uplift.
2. My students – they teach me something new about life, acting, myself, and creativity every day.
3. The opportunity to teach. I feel so lucky that I get to do a job I absolutely love – and that’s because of you.
4. To be living in Hollywood. Yes, I love this crazy business. I remember living in Rhode Island and reading about a screening at the DGA and being so disappointed because I couldn’t attend.
5. The Lankershim Arts Center, The Road Theatre and Gallery 800. Thank you for providing Intentional Acting with a beautiful, inspiring space in which to teach.
6. My family – particularly my husband and son.
7. @DallasTravers, @PerformerTrack, @CreateYourReel for being wonderful artists and honest business people who are full of integrity. You are a pleasure with which to do business.
8. The @SAGConservatory, @theActorsKey, and the @OakwoodApartments for inviting me to speak and teach your great actors.
9. My incredible team of people who help and support me – Gillian Bellinger, Erica Jenkins, Stephanie Bennett, Cheryl Gaskill, Bud, Mary Pat, Will and my Mastermind group.
10. The wonderful agents, managers and casting directors who believe in Intentional Acting and let me help you.
11. And the turkey which is giving her life to feed my family on Thursday.
Please share your gratitude list in the comments below.
Thank you for again for your support of Intentional Acting. I wish you and your family a safe and joyful holiday.
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What is the scene About? Part 2- Where does the scene take place?
I’ve started going through the 9 Questions of Intentional Acting and today I’m breaking down the second part of Question 1: Where does the scene take place? This is an important piece to take your auditions to the next level that so many actors skip over.
You really want to see where you are and have specific details about where the scene takes place. Take a look at this video to understand how to really answer this question.
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I’m going to start going through and breaking down the 9 Questions of Intentional Acting in the next handful of videos. This is really going to to take your auditions to the next level. Question 1 is What is the scene about?
There are four parts to Question 1 so today I’m going to go over the first part, What is the relationship? Take a look at this video to understand what this really means.
If you’re an actor or know someone who is feel free to share this article on being present with those you believe could benefit from it. Thank you.
Remember, as an actor, you’re part of an inspiring community. Share your experiences in the comments below. This is your inspirational story and can serve as a valuable learning tool for others.
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What is Intention?
Why is Intentional Acting called what it is? When it comes to acting, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is what it takes to replicate great performances. My answer is “Know your Intention”. But what exactly does this mean?
Watch this video to get an idea of what intention is.
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To have or not have a prop in an audition is a hot button topic. I’ve heard of casting directors getting annoyed when an actor uses a prop in the room. But nowadays, a prop we use all the time is a cell phone. They are basically an additional appendage to our lives and our bodies.
What do you do when you have an audition in which you are on the phone? Put your fingers to your ears, look at the reader or do the taboo thing of using your phone?
Here’s how I helped one of my actors.