I just want to talk about the basics of Scene Study/Analysis.
1. Where are you coming from?
This means both logistically and emotionally. The two are usually intertwined.
Logistically, simply means the space/location you were just in prior to where you find yourself now.
Emotionally, means how you are feeling because of what you experienced in that place and who you experienced it with.
i.e. if your are returning to work after a pleasurable rendezvous with your boyfriend during your lunch hour your mood, demeanor, perspective is going to be a lot different than if you were just at lunch with your overbearing mother whose expectations you can never live up to.
This emotional energy is where the scene starts (not on your first line of dialogue). It is what you are bringing into the new scene/space directly (logistically) from where you just came.
In the first case returning to work and encountering your boss who gives you an impossible deadline is going to feel probably less daunting when you are feeling very good about yourself, especially after a validating experience like the one you just shared with your boyfriend.
On the other hand, returning from your miserable lunch with your mother who never makes you feel like you’re good enough is going to make the deadline feel like another test.
This where things can get deeply personal.
You have a very specific relationship with everyone in your life.
The same is true in acting. If your relationships in the stories you tell don’t go deep and get personal this will effect your ability to raise the stakes and truly go after your objectives.
My advice to my actors at Krater Studios is: Allow your personal relationships to inform you and be the creative path to the relationships you will have to develop in your storytelling. (At Krater Studios we have a number of meditations to get you where you need to be).
What ends up happening, if you trust yourself and your inner life, is that you will find that you need not create an elaborate backstory or dwell too much on subtext. Who you are and where you are coming from personally will creatively fill in these blanks.
Every scene objective is clearly stated or at the very least easily discernible in every set of circumstances we find ourselves in. Finding your scene objective shouldn’t feel like pulling teeth.
Again specificity is the key. “I want her to like me.” Is too broad, it’s too general. “I want to hook up with her!” Much more specific.
The difference is Action. In the first instance “I want her to like me”, feels somewhat slightly passive and not requiring much action to achieve. I think we can all agree that we all want to be liked. Who cares? Seriously.
In the second instance there is more at stake. First of all without stating it, it’s inherent that you want her to like you. If not, then there’s zero hope of ever hooking up. So, there’s no need in stating the obvious. That’s not the point. The point is what do you want and how badly do you need it.
Validation and Affirmation are incredibly motivating forces. And even though they may be working in our subconscious mind in the subtlest of way, the conscious manifestation of these needs are very much to the point and require action to be achieved.
Some writers don’t think in terms of objectives. They think only in terms of actions. They give their characters very specific actions. To them it’s obvious that you want something. How you go about achieving it is what’s exciting.
So, find out what you are after in the scene. Get super specific and do what you you need to do to overcome any obstacles that stand in your way.
Love is what defines our lives and gives value to the wants, needs and desires we are chasing.
What do you love? Who do you love? Where do you love? When do you love?
Meditate on that for 10 minutes every day, and you will approach your work and the characters you develop from a much richer place. This is especially true when you are playing very dark and adversarial types.
But more on that next time.