14 June 2021 - 11:16 BY Louw
Work On This One Thing To Get More Roles
Instinct. Wait… How do you even work on something like instinct? You choose to become much more mindful about WHY you react and do the things you do in your everyday life. It’s a choice. It’s allowing freedom into your decision-making.
This one aspect or tool for any actor is something every person on earth has, their instincts. You have it, I have it, your weird brother have it. We all have instincts. We have just become so blocked by people around us or bad habits keeping us from allowing these instincts to kick in. This makes it difficult to “trust” ourselves when we act then. We have lost touch with what we think is the right performance choice and having no other choice. That might sound confusing; when the camera is rolling, forget about what performance choice to make, you have no other choice but to just be and react. The more we overshadow our instinct with over-thinking, the less honest and more mechanical we become.
I want to share a story about what a mentor of mine once said and how I realized the importance of this tool.
During the shooting of Die Pro, a film I shot a few years ago – I was about to do a scene where I had to react to a gunshot, only the sound of hearing it go off inside a house. Of course, there was no literal gunshot sound on-set, so I had to imagine the trigger. I did the first take and after we cut, I walked back to the director, Andre Velts, and asked him whether he thought my reaction was real… He shrugged with a smile and said, “What do you think?” a beat… “Trust your instinct first. I will tell you if it is wrong. Don’t doubt your first impulse.”
Crucial advice which guided me to trust my choices and instinct. Sometimes something in a scene is so complex that I seem not to find the reason or “honest” choice… but if I trust my first instinct, I find that 99% of the time the director finds it to be the right direction.
Tool to try:
If you feel overwhelmed with choices or philosophical ideas on a performance choice or how to do the next take, just become still… and when you hear action, trust your human instinct in that situation. You’ve done the work on character, you only need to react. Like David Mamet says, “all you need to do is, hit your mark… look your co-actor in the eye and tell the truth.”
The more we become aware of our instincts, the more we will know how much we suppress them daily. Listen, there’s times in our everyday life, of course, when suppressing that instinct will just benefit all human beings around you (like getting out of your car and repeatedly smash the guy’s window who just cut you off on the N1), so please be aware of these instincts that can cause more harm than anything else; but when it comes to your scene and performance choices, trust that instinct.
As an actor, I still have to remind myself of daring to let go and not to repeat myself.
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