"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reel Advice and How to Memorize Lines

Hey Y'all!  So in the last few days I had EIGHT friends on Facebook announce that they're gonna be on tv! Eight!! It's pretty freaking wonderful. From Bones to NCIS, to Days of Our Lives to National Commercials, things are finally freaking happening.

Also - they've on average put in 6-10 years here in LA before that's happened. Reality, guys. It ain't easy.

But when the stars DO align, it's freaking fantastic!

I too have been working on projects; I'm writing spec scripts. And I am having a freaking great time at it too! Finished two roughs and am working on which show to target next. In the meantime, I'm answering questions over here:
Hi Lira! 
I was wondering if you could give me some advice on putting together a reel. I have a scene in mind that I want, but I'm looking for a comedic monologue and more scenes. Where would you recommend  I look for some? I don't know exactly how I should go about searching because I'm not sure whats completely acceptable. I would prefer something from an indie movie and something a little different. Thanks again and have a good one! 

Acting reels are a tricky business. Are filming scenes from famous movies a good idea? No. Indie movies...? Uh....Still not a great idea. Plays? Sometimes, but they're usually too harsh for film.

For acting reels, your best bet honestly, is to either write a scene yourself, or have a friend write one for you. Is that terrifying? Is that hugely daunting? "I'm not a writer!" you might protest.

Well then, here's the best advice - film whatever piece of writing you freaking love. It could be a scene from a play from a book called "Scenes for Actors." It could be a scene from an indie film. What is going to show YOU off best? What type of character are you an obvious casting choice for? Do that.

If you're going to do a monologue, keep in mind that a one minute monologue on film is almost excrutiatingly long. You could trim it down to 30 seconds and that's still long. Most films have people talking in dialogue, so long speeches are very unnatural. That doesn't mean you can't do it. Just be aware.

And I would absolutely recommend NOT filming it by yourself. You do NOT want it to look like you're doing a monologue and just happened to film it. Make it a scene. Get a friend who loves you very much, shoot a master of you talking to him/her, and get both your close ups. That way, your editor (possibly you!) can cut back to the other person's reaction now and then to break up all your camera time. It's now a real, legit scene where you just happen to be doing all the talking. 

And another question about memorizing lines (sort of):

Hello Lira!
I'm a new reader of your blog and I really really love it. You're one of the few acting blogs that make pretty frequent updates and your stories are very interesting to read.  
I am a smaller town Nova Scotian actress who is moving to Toronto in September. Living in a small film industry area, I've been extremely lucky to get the work I've gotten! But soon I will be moving to where the competition lives and the pressure is on. I was wondering if you had any personal advice on lines. I don't have a problem with memorizing lines per say.. but rather, I get so nervous on set that I am constantly more worried about forgetting my lines than being in character. One time I tried to memorize the lines SO hard that it came instantly, but then they changed the entire paragraph on me right before filming and I kept accidentally saying the old lines (of course -.-). I would much rather be focused on my scene and character, but forgetting the lines keep freaking me out!

Do you have any advice?

Hey Rachael. Thanks for reading!

So you don't have memorization problems per se, you're just super nervous that you'll forget them once you're memorized.

This one's kinda tough, because it's almost akin to telling someone who's sad to snap out of it and choose to be happy. Easier said than done!

You know I still have to say it, though, right? Here it is: Stop being nervous.

I'm such an a-hole!

But Rachael, it's true. They auditioned you, they cast you, they love you. They know you can do it. And you know you can do it. So do your job.

Sometimes, all you might need, is to break down your script by emotions. You know in this beat you're happy, this beat, you're sad. This beat you're angry. And how do you remember those beats?

By really listening to your scene partner. Listen to what they're saying. You've already done your emotional beat homework, so when you are really listening to what the other characters are saying, the emotions will naturally flow, and you'll naturally remember your lines. And as much as I would love to say I came up with this brilliant idea, it's not mine. It's Meisner's. 

And if your script has been completely changed hours before you film, the ENTIRE crew is going to understand that you will slip back to the old stuff. They get it. It's not easy to memorize entire new pieces with only minutes of notice.

I also know you're like, Dude, Lira, it was a horrible situation and I was so embarrassed that I was letting the crew down and taking too long!

Tell you what you do.

If that or something similar ever happens on an indie shoot, it is perfectly okay to ask the director for a minute of their time. He or she will come up to you and you can be blunt with what your problem is. They'll talk to you. You don't have to be so afraid.

Go look up some Meisner technique classes in Toronto when you get there. It'll be really good for helping you allay your fears.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

1 comment:

Play nice.