From Stage to Screen
So many of us began on stage before we decided that Hollywood might be the
right place for us. Putting up a show as we all know, takes countless hours of
rehearsals, homework, dialect work, dance rehearsals, blocking rehearsals and line memorization. In depth conversations about
character, plot, and theme find us stimulated by the creation of story, the uniqueness of a specific production, the brilliance
of living it fresh every time.
Stage acting, writing, directing and producing are a beast unto themselves
in that you have to set yourself and your team up for countless performances where they will breath new life into their characters
and the story with every attempt. You are creating an environment where your
players can find nuances and hidden character treasures around every turn. When
a team comes together to produce a play, they come together to create a situation where they can continue to grow through
the material, performance after performance tightening, sharpening, and redefining.
Film is different. A whole
new set of tools are required for the film actor, the screenwriter, the director and the producers. They are all working towards the final goal of production. Any
rehearsing will be done in preproduction. Any defining, growth, nuances and treasures
that are to be uncovered are going to be found in front of that camera or before it is rolling. Where a play struggles to get on its feet to continually redefine itself, a film struggles to get to production
where it either happens or it doesnt.
Acting for the stage, in my own experience has been about education and
self-exploration. It is the opportunity to delve into yourself and what you bring
to a role. Through an amazing work ethic and an unbridled hunger to grow, a stage
actor gets to play with all of the different parts of him or herself. I consider
this wonderful training for the camera, but in itself only a means to the end. Acting
for the stage helps you to understand what you do as an actor. Acting for the
camera is when you either bring it or you dont.
Actors and directors of the stage can mold their performances over time. For film all of the molding must be done in preproduction. The final performance will
be done in front of that camera never to be repeated again. Many playwrights will workshop their material in front of audiences,
continually making it better until it is ready to be published. Screenplay writers
do not have the same luxury. They can workshop, of course. But once that camera is rolling, the screen-writers job is done.
What I personally found in myself is that I like to use the theatre as a
training ground for my confidence, and I like to use film as the ultimate challenge to see if I can bring it when it is all
on the line. Theatre for me has always been a place to practice my art and filmmaking
has been a time when there is no room for error. You fly or you fall in front
of that camera. Have you practiced enough to get to the necessary place you need
to get to for this scene emotionally? Do you understand yourself well enough to make every take something new and different
and better? In front of the camera, each take could be costing the production
thousands of dollars. Are you strong enough to warrant that expense? Half a day
spent on your scene for a television show could be costing the studio half a million dollars.
Are you good enough?
Directing for the camera is similar to directing a play in so many ways
you are bringing a team together, you are the leader, you are the vision, you are the teacher and the guidance. But in so many ways it is different because like the actor, you have no room for failure. No room for error. You are going to build your team and bring them to production and either you are going
to soar with creativity and passion where everything clicks, or you are going to experience the highs and lows of a production
that wants to fly, but has trouble. Maybe you are going to experience a shoot
that can barely get off the ground, or one that falls over a cliff. There is
no second chance.
It is this high standard for film and television
that I enjoy so much. It is the ultimate challenge to work for months and months,
possibly even years to bring something to production that makes the reward and the experience so highly charged, emotional,
intense and valuable. Many actors, directors and playwrights feel that same rush
in the theatre. What moves you is a personal journey. Explore them both with vigor and veracity and youll learn more every day making yourself a valuable commodity
in whatever medium you play.