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Old April 19th, 2005, 09:20 AM   #1
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about non-professional actors

Well, there was many words about this theme... But, most of the time it is from the directors point of view.
I mean, I am always experiencing lots of problems working with non-professional actors. Most of the time they are overacting and "pretending", and I lose much time to explain them why not to do it, how to make acting more natural, etc.
But now, I think it is good idea to make one little document about acting that I will give to every n-p actor to read carefully before rehearsals and production.
I have book about directing actors from Judith Weston too, and I am already taking some information from there...

I am asking for you to share your opinions, ideas, or any kind of info about this theme... I mean, anything you think is useful for a non-professional actor's quick education about acting that I can put in this document.

Thanx in advance folks!
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Old April 19th, 2005, 10:32 AM   #2
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When Jim Carey was on the set of "Man on the Moon" he WAS Andy Koffman, you couldn't refer to him as Jim he only answered to Andy and answered AS Andy... he supposedly even flat out slapped Jerry Lawler when he approached Jim as that's the history between him and Andy would have it.

I'm not a Jim Carey fan really but that sure is one way to have your character feel natural.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 10:49 AM   #3
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I am really surprised that Lawler didn't pile-drive Carey too.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 11:02 AM   #4
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I'm sure it was explained to him that Jim was always "in character"
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Old April 20th, 2005, 08:09 AM   #5
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thanx for reply...

hmmh, yea... that's nice, I'll try to collect as many as I can examples about acting techinques (from big stars and actors) too. I think that kinda info will have much more power on my non-professional actors when reading it...
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Old April 24th, 2005, 05:10 AM   #6
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Maybe try to explain to them that acting is simply putting themselves in the other persons shoes and reacting to the situations, stress, trama, pain, loss, etc. Too many try to act like they are a "caricature!" In other words an exageration of something or some part. Like a caricature picture you would get at a carnival, where all the features are drawn out of proportion! You know, like the nose too big (Dustin Hoffman), or the chin too big (Jay Leno). Just behave normally, but in someone elses life, problems and circumstances. Slap them in the face and see if they over act, or they react normally with surprise and hurt! Don't really do it, but you know what I mean!

Best of luck.

Chapter one, line one. The BH.
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Old April 24th, 2005, 05:21 AM   #7
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Acting is not something that can be taught. Either you have it, or you don’t. It's that simple. Sure, natural-actors can be “polished” into even better actors, but not the other way around. Non-actors (those without a natural talent for it, whether they are being themselves, or not) can't be made into great actors....You can’t polish a turd into a diamond. With acting, you are either good, or you suck. There is no gray area. And besides, when you’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of shooting, you wont have any time to be playing “acting coach.” Directing the actor is not the same as running over the techniques of Lee Strasburg. Sure, sometimes there is a thin line between directing the actor, and being an acting coach, but it is rare, and it takes up a lot of time. All this is why casting is SO important. You’re better off spending your time with doing a better casting, then you are with trying to turn non-talented acting people into great actors.
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Old April 24th, 2005, 10:33 AM   #8
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You could cast non-actors into characters whose issues they are familiar with.
For example, Eminem / 8-mile is very much like an auto-biography (except it doesn't claim to be) so Eminem is really familiar with the character and all he has to do is to act himself (which is kind of a different self because it's him before he got famous).

Maybe try to get them to draw upon their own experience.

Otherwise, I would try to find people who can act... because lots of people can't.
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Old April 24th, 2005, 01:22 PM   #9
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well, I am talking about SKILL (something that can be thaught - that's why schools, teachers and books exist). I work with no budget and with amateur volunteer actors. I cast them when I recognize that talent in them you talked about... and I don't try to be acting teacher, that's why I wanted to make a document with few pages, so they as natural amateur actors (armed only with talent) can improve their acting skills a little bit, and that can make job easier for all of us.
And I must say, some of them are very, very good (I was really suprised) and now I see that they need just a little bit of acting techniques and a little bit of some theory to improve.

You know CITY OF GOD (cidade de deus) movie? I thought actors in the movie was professionals. I was amazed with the discovery that they all are amateurs, first time on the film. And I saw on the website that they made a camp for these kids and people, and teached them about acting for some time. Result is obviously very good movie.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 12:01 PM   #10
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Another style/type of acting is method acting. Check into Stanislavsky and the methods he used. Here's a link to a site with some more info.


Like someone said before, use people that can relate to the characters. But you can go a step further. Just get the actors to relate to the 'emotions' of the characters. Using their memories of such emotions as love, fear, anger, frustration, etc... You know.... cry on cue by thinking about the most horrible thing in your life and reliving the trauma to bring out those emotions. Trust me, it works. I studied this method a little, and unless your actor/actress is a complete stick in the mud, it usually works well.

I think one of the most difficult things for non-professional actors is letting go of themselves, and really becoming their character. Similar to the statement about Jim Carey, try rehersals where the actors are supposed to come to the door "in character" and stay that way until you (the director) declare the rehersal over.

Try a couple of readthroughs like this, and see if it helps. Afterword, when the cast has been released from their character, and before they leave, discuss the characters with eachother "out of character" and have everyone talk about their character, and also have them discuss eachothers characters for suggestions and such. Remind them that during this, they are talking about other people, and not themselves. No, "your character/my character stuff. Thes are supposed to be "real people", at least in the film, and should be treated as real.

This of course comes after your initial one on one meeting and screen test of each person for each given role.

Screentests are invaluable tools to determine whether or not a person has what it takes to be the character, it also gives you a refence of the person for you to use in other ways as well. ie: you might discover that the person is more suited to play a different character, or you may find a different way to portray the given character.

First and foremost, keep an open mind, and "BE THE DIRECTOR". Anyone can act like themselves, but it's you that has to help them be someone else. Be specific (not too specific) in what you want out of the character. Back stories are helpful. If your characters are already established "persons" you should (or the writer should) know how these people came to be the way they are. You have to go beyond the character development in the script. Think about how this person grew up. What were the circumstances of his/her childhood/adulthood?, etc...

Hope this helps, and isn't too much to deal with.

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