#3 Bottom Line technique

27 August 2020 - 16:20 BY Edwin

The Best Tool To Make Strong Performance Choices:

Bottom-Line Technique

The credits roll… You just saw Michelle Williams in yet another beautiful, honest and memorable performance in Blue Valentine… How does she keep on doing that?

How does she consistently give a beautiful performance? Brokeback Mountain… Manchester By The Sea… Marilyn… “I want to give performances like that…”
We tend to think they do the most complex preparation for theses roles but when it comes down to those complex, beautiful and honest performances it’s because they seem to find a primal belief within their choices. They make decisions within the performance that is clear, precise and alive; filled with honesty and truth in their eyes.
How do you find these deeply rooted decisions within a performance?

Tool to try:
The Bottom-Line Technique. In Tony Barr’s book, Acting For The Camera, he shares this practical and effective tool. What drives the scene? Find your character’s basic need or objective within the scene. What is your character’s main objective – THAT’s the Bottom-Line. In most scenes, you’ll be playing opposite another actor, whose character also wants something by the end of the scene. There is an obstacle that keeps them from getting what they want. The same for you character. The obstacle will mostly be another character keeping you from getting what you want. By the end of that scene, what does your character want? What does she need? Write that down. That is your driving force and energy. This helps you become specific and clear in your performance choices.

It might be to convince your partner to stay in the relationship, or to persuade someone to lend you their car, or avoid talking to someone, or to get the person to say YES to a marriage proposal… Find the most basic and primal objective within the scene. Write it down at the end of your scene.

When you read through your scene and get to the end of it… BOOM! That’s what she needs to get. She needs to take it. Do everything possible with the lines you’ve been given to get what your character wants/needs. This will help you be clear in performance choices, have urgency and energy within performance and fuel your eyes with the truth.
Do whatever it takes to achieve it! If your bottom-line changes in the middle of a scene, write down what the new trigger is. Find this change in want/need and write it down. It’s 100% fine to have more than one ~Bottom-Line within a scene. In life, we go into situations or conversations with an idea of what we want but then the conversation takes a turn and opens up a new thought or direction, and we change our wants/needs to adapt. It’s not manipulating someone, it’s knowing what you want and doing whatever it takes to get it.

Conflict is what creates drama. The more conflict actors find, the more interesting the performance. —Michael Shurtleff
How did you find the technique/tool? 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!

Kind Regards
Edwin van der Walt

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