13 April 2021 - 10:57 BY Louw
Getting Out Of Your Head
I’ve had this problem many times. I was overthinking a scene or performance choice or what other people thought of a scene I just did.
The ego slips in through the back door and before I know it, it’s made itself comfortable in my living room with a nice cup of coffee and a koeksister. Tsjek Ego! This guy keeps me from cleaning up that room and getting the house in a perfect shape which can be clean, beautiful and ME.
When we start to overthink, we become unsure about our performance choices. This inner-monologue full of doubts and worries needs to be dealt with to become raw and honest and confident in our choices.
Dustin Hoffman told a story where he went for the audition/screentest for film, The Graduate (if you haven’t watched it, please do… this launched Dustin’s incredible acting career). He was busy doing an off-Broadway play and didn’t have much time to prepare a dialogue-heavy audition. On the plane, he tried to get as many lines into his head. During the audition he said he could feel the train derailing; can’t remember lines, fluffing lines and the more he messed up the more stressful he became. After a few takes the director stopped the audition and asked to speak with Mr. Hoffman to the side. The director asked him if he was ok and Dustin just basically said it’s just nerves but he’ll get it now. The director looked at him and said, calm down, it’s just a screen test, give your best and take your time. We’re here to help you. Then he stuck his hand out and Dustin grabbed it to shake hands. He says the director’s hand slipped right out of his because he was sweating from stressing just as much.
That made me realize that every person on a film set is trying their best to be the best in their department. Everyone has nerves; focus puller to hit his focus marks every take, the sound guy to make sure he knows where the actors will be moving to get the perfect sound, the make-up department needs to apply a big bloody scare which needs to look real… Everyone experiences nerves.
A tool to try:
- 4,7, 8 Breathing: I use this breathing technique to slow down my heart rate and calm myself.
- 4 seconds inhale….
- 7-second hold….
- 8 second slow exhale.
- Look around: everyone needs to give their best. Relax and stick to your choices and preparation when you arrive on set. Be bold in your choices and focus on getting what your character wants by the end of the scene.
When we look at actors who make clear and bold performance choices, those are the performances in film or onstage we remember and enjoy. Having that confidence in your Bottom-Line helps create peace of mind.
“Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don’t let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all of your glory.”
― Jim Carrey
How did you find the technique/tool/advice? Did it work for you? What was different this time? Share with the tribe and let’s keep on creating beautiful, honest and memorable performances. Let’s execute our best selves!
Edwin van der Walt