04 October 2020 - 12:17 BY Louw
Give Yourself Permission To Create
I have found myself in many situations on a film set where I thought, “If I had prepared better, I might have had more confidence to disagree with my director, co-actor or DOP.” Then I decided to permit myself to create. To not let people walk over my craft.
This might sound extremely negative, but if you can prevent other people from walking over you or keeping you from being the artist you want to be, then that statement might be the tool to help you prevent that from happening.
The reality is, we’re all in this together. In the end, we all have (or should have) the same goal/objective: to tell a story to the best of our ability. This is a team sport and we all need to work together. When people run out of time or get pressured to work faster on sets, they tend to forget the other departments. They tend to forget that each department takes their craft extremely seriously.
Every single person on set is a painter. Just like the painter wants their painting to be perfect, you also have to put in the time and effort to craft the character or frame or costume that both the writer intended and what you want to create.
Tool: make sure you start working on your scenes and character in advance. Give yourself enough time to craft this painting which is your character within the performance. I personally, if time and schedule allow, would try and start to work on a script a month in advance. This doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but in South Africa that is the reality, we don’t always have the luxury of getting scripts six months in advance as Robert De Niro demands. These Diva’s, right?! Jokes. Anyway, give yourself enough time to find detail within character, to find variations in scenes and moments, to think about hair and make-up ideas, to create your character’s physicality and more. Add to your character rather than bringing too little to set. Bring options and layers.
This will do two things:
You will have much more confidence to walk onto set with your canvas ready to show your painting to the rest of the artists who will collab with you.
You will not let other departments walk over you on a stressed and rushed day when you are about to shoot a scene. You’ll know exactly why and what you’ll be doing. And you’ll have enough options to play around with when the time is limited.
The director can always pull back or remove any unnecessary physicalities, movements or bold performance choices, but on the day there might not be enough time to think of ideas to ADD to a performance. Directors love having options to play with rather than wasting time to help you pick up your brush and dip it in different colours to try different strokes on the day. Bring all you’ve got.
On busy days when everyone is rushed, the crew and cast members will be so grateful for you giving yourself permission to create and be ready as soon as you hear “action!”. You’ll save time and saving time on film sets means your journey will be much more enjoyable regarding crew members, collaboration with directors and other actors.
This is YOUR art. This is YOUR craft. Don’t let them walk over you. Keep the time constraints in mind, be kind and compassionate and know the technical side to film can become tricky to incorporate into your performance, but having options and being well-prepared means you’ll be okay.
Merge the technical with the creative freedom and let it become a dance. I will give you some tips in the next post on how to incorporate the technical side into your performance so that you can moonwalk the crap out of that performance!
“If you are just safe about the choices you make, you don’t grow.”
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