Heightened Reality

When we're working on camera in class we sometimes fall victim to a tendency that has us plowing through the scene and, in the process, editing our performance out of the story. My advice is always to take your time. Let what is going on moment to moment affect you and then allow that to be the impetus for your reaction.

Another concern is our ideas and preconceived notions of what is expected of us (usually by no-one but ourselves) and how to play that. We can become tunnel-visioned in our pursuit of an objective or getting our message across that we forget that there is a living, breathing, feeling human being in the room with us that is being affected by our behavior and that in turn is having an effect on us and, possibly, (most likely) if we are connected to one another this has the potential to open us up to other feelings about them and ourselves and where the scene wants to go.

When we are working against these two conflicts a self-preservation mechanism kicks in that wants to keep us safe and so we behave accordingly by pulling back and using the words of the script as a security measure against anything harmful that can befall us, and in life in most circumstances that may be fine, but in Film and Television we do not have that luxury. There is nothing gratuitous in the 120 minutes or less within which the lives of complex individuals are thrown together. This is true of all genre in both mediums. As closely as we identify and empathize with the characters we take on, as much as their feelings and thoughts resonate with us we have to on some level recognize that the world they inhabit is heightened in reality compared to ours because they don't have a 100 years of screen time to live out their experiences. They have 120 minutes or less. Nothing can be taken for granted and moments must be lived out fully.

- Paolo.

Hope

To act.  
To take action. 

This business is not for those who want to sit around and day dream.

But what about the notion of hope?

It is a valuable asset in your work as an actor.  It is the ability to see past the clutter and the noise to the edge where a dream or wish becomes a reality.  It is the buffer between the soul and cynicism/bitterness.  Without it we risk becoming humorless and demoralized.  Our characters have nothing to fight for and at times nothing to lose.

This business is about big dreams.  It is about big risks and rewards.  You have to believe you will find yourself achieving what you set out to do or else what is the point.

But you cannot leap without the floor. We cannot just wish from a vacuum.  Life isn't easy or fair.  It is beautiful, complicated and at times quite savage.  It is indifferent, numbing and tedious.  We must encounter the truth of our surroundings and hope anyway.  That is where the power of the moment lies.

It takes courage.  
It takes action.  
It also makes the reward oh so sweet!

xo
Jen Krater
 

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Let's Stop Waiting!

We can all get caught up in the waiting game from time to time.  It happens at various points in our lives, careers and it can manifest itself in our work.

It is a place that can cause stagnation, frustration and impede growth.

Personally, I think it becomes a habit.

As actors we wait on so many things.  We wait for the phone to ring, the cue to come, the word action to be called.  How might it serve the work if we stopped waiting to bring all that we have to offer and started to give of ourselves, express our voice, offer up our talents and get moving!

An easy antidote is to be mindful of the definition of "to act".  As a verb it means to take action or to do something.  As a noun it means a thing done; a deed.

I have been meditating on this since Monday Evenings Instinct Class at Krater Studios.  We observed how a scene can sit there...feeling like it is an unmoving entity or it can pop and sizzle.  Usually the difference has to do with where the actors are coming from, what they are listening to and/or what they are bringing to the picture.

Once in awhile, I see actors get up without much going on either energetically, emotionally or psychically.  The go to the page or the line, point out the most obvious clues from the script to support uninspired choices and they read dialogue.

Rather than waiting for someone to point out where the opportunities may be, an actor wants to be in tune with his or her process, opinions, life experience and inner aliveness.  We don't need to be told how to respond to a novel we may be reading in the privacy of our home and it should be no different when we are working.  Lifting that experience up off the page and being willing to play with the other actor takes a certain amount of risk, but it must be done.

I see actors wait for the lines to tell them how to feel.  It is common place to have someone sit right in front of your nose and miss what is going on with them.  We don't connect as a society and so from time to time we ignore that obligation when we get up to work.  Ask yourselves if you really give a damn about the person in front of you.  If you aren't sure or the answer is no, turn that around because nine times out of ten your performance is in your partner.  The character you are inhabiting surely cares about the journey he or she is on or there wouldn't be a story to tell.

Listening is such a crucial part of an actors process.  Sometimes it seems as if actors believe this is about listening to the line better.  Although that may be true, there are so many other amazing things to connect with when we act.  From time to time we are limiting ourselves to just one or two, but as an actor you want to reach out and listen to the lines, the temperament of your partner, the tone of the environment being established, the moment, your intuition, a deeper level of understanding, your point of view, the obvious....need I go on?  Actors forever will be discovering how to listen better.

Lastly, I think it is important to recognize that you have something valuable to offer the production, your community or the world.  An actor must recognize and develop his or her voice.  If we want to be more than a bit player from time to time...it must be done.  It is perfectly okay not to know what that may be, but then we must go about the discovery.

In being called to act, suddenly there are so many things to realize, discover and express.  Keeping all of this in mind will prevent you from sitting back when you need to take a stand, keeping quiet when you should speak up and pretending you are just another actor when indeed you are a force to be reckoned with.

Think how it feels to be on your heels when you work.  Why search outwardly for someone to offer you the platform or permission to do what you do best.

So much of this career becomes about taking care of yourself.  Please make sure that you do.

Now, go Act!
xo
Jen Krater

Impulses


Impulses stem from an intuitive connection we are experiencing in the moment that is connected to something deeper within us.

Impulses can lead us to the full expression of that experience when we commit to them fully.

Following through with our Impulses will move you away from a place of safeness to a place ripe with creative possibilities.

When an actor takes a risk and follows through with her impulses she elevates the scene to a plane where anything can happen.

So why are we afraid of our impulses? Well, the obvious reason is that they lead us into trouble.

The best thing that can happen in a scene is the least expected thing when impulses are followed through.

So, get into trouble.

We like trouble. We welcome trouble.

See you next week.

Paolo.

 

We have spaces available in Paulo's audition class- contact us at kraterstudios@gmail.com for a free audit.

Doing You

The most predictable take is when an actor relies on the script, other’s expectations and what they have seen before. 

“Caring what other people think” 

“Doing it Right”                                                                                          

“Playing it on the nose”  

Those experiences lead to uninspired work.  The fact of the matter is that everyone processes information differently.  The same moment will hit each actor differently if they are in touch with where they are truly coming from.

When we work we don’t need to add unnecessary things to a scene to be interesting, but we don’t need to let go of who we are completely either.  

If you are living it out, fully in a moment, the camera will capture an honest reaction to what is taking place.  An actor needn’t ad lib or rewrite a word.  They just need to authentically listen and respond accordingly.

I was recently working with an actress who was working through a scene for “The Good Wife”.  The scene was very emotionally obligated and full of loss.  There were moments when she was so completely there, tears would spontaneously spring to your eyes.  There were others where I could see she was working to get somewhere and that didn’t allow for the fullness we had experienced previously.

I noted it was when she was needed to talk about LOVE.   She kept looking for an inward feeling, in her chest, like you might assume love feels.  However, this particular actress identified love as an external experience, geared more towards being surrounded by friends or community and had compared it to wearing a “warm fuzzy sweater”.  

When I was able to guide her back towards feeling her feelings, not the ones she thought she should, the worked realigned to the beautiful place she had been.  Successfully living out a scene like that is satisfying enough, but she had an epiphany that was so much more valuable.  Here is how she put it:

“Thank you so much again for today. I had a revelation. You really helped me realize that as an actor I’ve trying to reach for my emotional life ‘inside the boat’ when for me, personally it’s the water that the boat moves on.. Mind blown!”

Casting Directors are always saying they want you.  It is such a silly thing to say unless you understand what they mean.  In a very real way, this was an Ah Ha moment for this actor.  

My hope is that you all are having “Ah Ha Moments” all the time while the camera rolls

x                                                                                                                          Jen Krater

Truth and Growth

Ok, I think we can all own that at times putting yourself out there can be difficult. To stand up and say "This is who I am" or "This is what I believe" can open you up into all kinds of reactions and yet this is what an actor does everytime he steps in front of the camera. It takes guts.

Telling the truth can ruffle all kinds of feathers. It can be uncomfortable at times, but ultimately it is incredibly freeing.

The truth is unforgiving sometimes. The truth also illuminates things that have to be expressed and/or worked through. Sometimes this can lead to resistance, but ultimately it will lead to growth.

This point in an actors process is incredibly exciting to me as a teacher. I have seen after 15 years of working with all types of actors what lies on the other side of these discoveries and feel it is in the actors best interest for their limitations to be questioned. It is amazing to watch at times how an actor will fight to the death to stay stuck.

When I experience this I often think of Einstein's definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
I mean after all isn't art about questioning the status quo?

Isn't it about finding meaning?

Isn't it about progressing?

I have incredible compassion for what the process demands at times. Film actors have really asked to expose and reveal themselves on so many levels. I ask every actor to show up. I also have been trained by one of the best teachers in the business, Sally Johnson. She pushed me the same way I push all of my actors. I am grateful for that.

As a teacher you are making judgement calls constantly. When to build, when to leave well enough alone and when to talk straight. Having the opportunity to be on both sides of the camera has lead me to the conclusion that everyone has something at stake when the work takes place.

More than someone's comfort, beyond an individual's ego, the work guides the direction.

I know as an actor it is hard to hear the support at times. It is easy to recoil and become introverted, but an actor's job is to speak up, speak out and discover what wants to happen next.

I push, because I care. Deeply.

Jen

Potential.

Potential.

Do you know what yours is?  
Do you own it?
Do you work to make it a reality?
Have you taken time in your hectic schedule to find a support system so it can be realized?
Does it even matter to you any longer?

I think acting and life go hand in hand.  I come around over and over again to the realization that what we have to offer as individuals is so vital to the well being of our society.

It is very easy to let this career devolve into an ego driven let down and yet...

When I see people step in front of the camera and let down their guards, connect and really begin to discover how they feel about themselves and the world they live in, my soul comes to life.

There is so much in this celebrity based culture that suggests only those who are known have a voice.  Art is what reminds us all to stop and take a listen to what truly matters to us as a society.

What if...we stopped waiting for someone out there to give us permission to be all that we are and truly play large.  What if...we supported people to be more than they thought they ever could.  What if...we could let go of our cynicism and articulate what it is like to live in 2013.

I understand that acting is a business.  I also bristle at the thought of our art form being run like a giant corporation.  Being connected to the world we live in, understanding the daily trials of the average man, woman and child, shining a light on those things in life that shouldn't be overlooked or condoned, this is at the very heart of what we do.

Hurray to the story tellers who push to get their voices heard, who rise up against the glorification of the selfish and ignorant in reality TV and easy money.  Hurray to everyone who fights to get their film made the way they see it.

As a society we have the potential to do great things, to solve hard problems and to be better tomorrow than we are today.  As film makers we can really reach our audience.  

I can't help but be informed by being a parent of two young beautiful girls.  I want to say to the world what I would say to them.  "Go become all that you are able to be!"  Then I have the responsibility to do everything in my power to help make that possible.  Where I fall short, I need to ask the expertise of others to bridge that gap.

Art is about reminding the masses that we all have a stake in this world we create and live in.  Acting is about touching the potential of the human spirit and being honest about it.  It isn't some trite easy thing, but it isn't impossible either.

I wish for everyone to work and make money etc.  But more than anything, I wish for compelling story telling and the opportunity of us all to be ourselves unapologetically.  I wish for us to stop underestimating ourselves and our peers and really work to be amazing, brilliant, compassionate people.

After all, I do see it daily in the work at the studio.  I also see the toll it takes when those things are ignored.

So again I ask each and every one of you...

Potential. 

Do you know what yours is?  
Do you own it?
Do you work to make it a reality?
Have you taken time in your hectic schedule to find a support system so it can be realized?
Does it even matter to you any longer?

With Love,
Jen