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.




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...


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,