Now that you have taken your first step in becoming an amateur actor, its time to learn to let go! Are you ready?
Ok, take a deep, and close your eyes. Imagine all the problems that have been plaguing you, causing your muscles to cramp up and your teeth to clench, and let them gather in the ether of your mind. Maybe you have money problems, and this may be your first acting job for pay? Maybe you are in a bad relationship and your phone keeps buzzing with angry text messages, diverting your attention from your present state. Maybe you are so nervous you are shaking and can’t remember your lines. Whatever ‘it’ is, it looms like a cloud over your head, threatening to ruin your performance.
Its time to let it go! Breathe in deep, and as you exhale let all those troubles disappear.
Good, now we are ready to film.
I am assuming all your lines are memorized and you have made personal choices for your character, that are truthful to you or the people who inspired your character (we will talk more on this point next time). Your work is almost complete…
While rehearsing in your room alone, or with some of the other actors in your project, you build up a comfort level, which is great. But, this is the first day on set, and there are a lot of people you have never met before; the DP, the lighting people, wardrobe, set designers, grips, gaffers, writers and extras, your nerves will be on edge. You don’t want to screw up. When the director yells action you have to be ready.
The key to being relaxed is letting everything go. Being in the moment means that the past and future have no effect on you.
The only thing that matters is that you are right here, in the moment where you are supposed to be! You were hired for a reason, so be yourself, even if you are playing the craziest of characters. Say your lines like you would in a conversation standing outside a bar smoking a cigarette with your friends, or at dinner. If you are yourself, you never have to worry about screwing up.
Like the philosopher Ram Das once said, “Be here now!” Focus your attention on the other actors in your scene. When acting is done right, it feels good. You feel it in your bones You are connected in a way that jazz musicians connect on the regular! Its visceral. It comes from practicing. it comes from learning your lines, and the ability to improvise. It comes from learning not to be embarrassed. Embarrassment has the ability to allow insecurity to take over. How do you eliminate your insecurities?
Never be embarrassed!
This step is the hardest to learn. Everyone of us, at one point or another, worried about what other people thought of us.
We handle our egos in different ways, the clothes we wear, what we say or what we don’t, some of us fear leaving the house, or recoil from the thought of public speaking. Insecurities manifest in a multitude of ways. So how do we remove a part of ourselves that is as natural as walking?
1. Do Things You Have Never Done Before! Get out there in the world and face your fears. Travel, start conversations with strangers, try standup comedy, speak at a friend’s wedding ext…
2. Use your fear! Fear will always be there, it is our warning system. It alerts us that danger approaches. The thing is, depending on how we are raised, not everything we come across needs to be feared. Sometimes overbearing parents can instill in us an unnecessary unhealthy amount of fear. The news doesn’t help either. The way the news channels describe the rest of the world, you’d think armageddon was right around the corner. Face your fear, until the warning bell becomes a dull whisper in your mind.
3. Take off your clothes!! No joke here. If the law allows it, i.e. Nude beach, or a part in a play that requires nudity, or just a streaking at a football game, being nude in public is the biggest fear a lot of people face. Ever have the horrifying dream that you are sitting in class with no clothes on, and you are completely overwhelmed by shame or embarrassment? We have society to blame for this irrational fear. Clothes were used to separate us from the animals. Once you take this step, you will never fear being on stage or in front of the camera ever again!
4. Be like an animal! Animals are truly in the moment. Observe them, watch how they deal with the world around them. They eat when they are hungry, they relax when they are tired, they play, they fight when they need to defend themselves. They don’t plan. Life comes at them, and they naturally except it. They move on. Always living in the moment. An animal is never embarrassed, unless we dress them up in cute outfits and laugh at them!
5. Allow every emotion to come through in your performance! Not all at once of course. The trick and need here, is to feel. The audience needs to feel, its why they pay money to see your movie. The audience blocks their emotions all the time, especially at work. Most people spend most of their lives in an office and the like. They can’t afford to be angry or overly happy. Emotions get in the way. Its why office love affairs are frowned upon. Jealousy and anger get in the way of work. So people bottle up their emotions. They need a release. Through us, if we do our jobs correctly, we hold a mirror up, and they experience life through us.
I have to run now. Life is happening as we speak, and writing this is getting in the way. Just remember, breathe! Release those emotions, and never be embarrassed to be who you are! Hopefully one day you will shed your embarrassment and shame, and shine on the screen like the beautiful human you are!!