Step Two: The Actor & The Camera
The camera – The outer eye of our inner selves, sees all and records only what’s in front of it. The camera, in capable hands, can catch the innermost subtleties of life, including human behavior. Film can capture atmosphere, film can capture the human spirit, which makes this digital technology and complex make up of layered chemicals extraordinary. We must appreciate the idea that if it is present with in us it will translate to the screen. This idea is sobering and unnerving at the same time. If we’re on, all is well, if we’re off, well there are ways of fixing it, but for the most part we’re screwed because the camera will catch it. On and off are part of the solution. We must learn the difference and how to make off on, and the different levels of on and off so our friend the camera gets us at our present best.
The camera has some pleasant limitations. Firstly as long as we are out of frame we are not being recorded. It’s as if we don’t exist. As an actor we must exist. Our survival is located in the frame of that camera. Our death is there as well, so respect your preparation and the camera will provide you with a healthy existence. The camera loves preparation. The prepared actor has the freedom to explore the on screen relationships, in frame, and discover a multitude of things that he and everybody else didn’t even know was possible. Preparation allows for the maximum possibility for the moment to be realized in frame. This is the goal of all those responsible for bringing the piece to life, telling the story. The camera is the magical devise by which we can share our story. The only real limitation the camera has are the limitations of those acting for it, operating it, lighting it and producing it.
The same idea can be made with the actor’s tools: body, mind and spirit. The only real limitation the actor has is what he dares to ask of himself. His ability to capture the full range of human expression is only limited by his information, imagination and courage.
The magical quality of a camera has forever changed our perception of life. The juxtaposed images blending to form a million meanings reflecting our own complex behavioral makeup. With the advent of the camera and the addition of a motion picture industry, acting has never been quite the same and since the two forms have met fairly recently, acting and the camera, the potential of this union has yet to be realized. The spectacle of life will always draw our attention for a moment; the core of life will intrigue us for a lifetime and as long as this remains true acting will always be the bases for story telling on film.
The great perceiver, reflector, observer, purveyor of the truth is the camera, a physical manifestation of our inner observer. The unusual contraption captures time and makes immortal whoever lives while its shutter cranks the celluloid through the gate. Just as in life we understand a thing from our own particular perspective or we have our own particular take or angle on a particular thing or subject matter, so too does the camera. Any angle askew from neutral begins to tell a different story by sending a different message to the receiver. This process of understanding perception on behalf of the actor is the birth of a new art, an intriguing way of exploring the human condition one step further on film, a fresh way for the actor to consciously create the subtleties of a story, conveying the most profound aspects of humanity by balancing camera perception with choice.
A great director, who was usually a good actor at some point, understands this principle. From his perspective he is responsible for the camera’s angle of perception. And this has been effective in telling stories on film up to a point. With the actor armed with a fresh insight into what he is capable of, as far as assisting in the development of on screen moments, the possibility of a different kind of story being told on film emerges. Fewer words by the writer would be required, closing in on Einstein’s ideal film, a story told exclusively by images. To achieve this would require the return of respect for the writer who would be challenged to write deeper material, which would push the director to go deeper within himself, in turn asking more of the actor, who is capable. A return to the intimacy of the theater of old could begin to permeate the film industry. I have a dream! The need for close interpretation and longer rehearsals geared at exploring the true action of film, moment to moment, would be necessary again.
This original WMM article is brought you by WMMer,Thomas Ardavany.
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Thomas Ardavany is an acting teacher and life coach for aspiring artistic and professional talent. He is an exceptional individual who has touched the lives of countless people through the Ardavany Approach, a unique method for enhancing perception and creative expression that helps individuals overcome their fears and connect to their power. It blends cold reading, scene study, interactive exercises, on-camera experience, and other tools to help t the actor. He is a respected practitioner with a unique energy and passion for helping performers and people from all walks of life succeed. Through self-awareness, a warm spirit, and “no-holds-barred” honesty, he seeks to influence the lives of all his students. Clients include Josh Holloway from Lost, Matt Gerald from Avatar, Rudy Reyes from “Apocalypse Man”.