January 29, 2016 at 2:20AM


Natural acting - without rehersal?

Just read an interview with two young actors - Theo Taplitz and Michael Barbieri.
Which were casted in film - Little Man directed by Ira Sachs. This film is sceeening at this year Sundance Festival.
In the interview they were also discussing directors technique of leading actors and this part is really interesting so I thought it would be nice to discuss.

"Ira believes filming should be natural. If we rehearsed it over and over again he would say, "Oh, well no, it’s just you saying some lines." He wants it to be, you’re not acting, you’re just being yourself and this camera is coming around you. --M.B.
This was my first time shooting that way. If I had done a film or theater, it was always rehearsal. It was my first time not doing rehearsal. I felt like it did help me more, because it made the character and the lines more natural to me. I didn’t have to think about ways to say it or act like I was acting like I was saying it. I was just saying words. --M.B.

You are responding to them in that moment, in the actual time, instead of going, "She said that, now I say my line." It was more about, he said that, now I respond. And Ira was very particular telling us, "Do not act." --T.T."

What do you think about it guys?


This recalls to me the lyrics of the RUSH song Freewill: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/r/rush/freewill_20119963.html

Specifically, "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice". If you choose not to 'act' you are still acting.

And also what Miles Davis told his musicians: http://uproxx.com/music/heres-your-first-look-at-don-cheadle-as-miles-da...

Specifically, "[Miles is] the guy, if he heard you rehearsing your solo and then you played that onstage, you were fired. [Miles said] I don’t pay you to rehearse, I don’t pay you to rehearse, I pay you to rehearse live in front of people. Don’t bring your polished solo out, go out and go crazy." These musicians didn't practice their solos, but they practiced their scales and modes, all. day. long.

And it's also not unlike martial arts training. When an attacker throws a punch, the defender must respond to the actual punch, not the punch that one practiced defending against in some kata. The Kata gets you prepared, but in a real fight you have to adapt. Fast. Even anticipate the unknown.

All that being said, it takes a great actor to be able to leave the acting behind and just be the character. Or incredible charisma that's perfectly matched to the character you are trying to portray (such as Quvenzhané Wallis). But it's not as if the recipe for success is to avoid all training in acting, or rehearsal. It's finding actors who are comfortable following the director, even when the director says "don't act".

January 29, 2016 at 4:17AM


But I think its good point that he is trying to pull of most natural acting from the actors by not preparing them so much for the situation. I think Sydney Pollack did the same thing, telling: Camera! When actors were just preparing. So do you think that Ira knew his actors and knew that they personalities did match the roles? But actors themselves say that the roles in this movie were far away from their personality. So I think this method appears to be really weird in this situation...
To pull of natural acting from actors who have completely different personalities and not rehersing. But I know that director what he was doing even though I havent seen a movie yet

January 29, 2016 at 9:56AM


I think this really depends on the type of film you're making. On something like Dog Day Afternoon, in which you have an ensemble cast in a single room for the vast majority of the film, their ability to play off each other is a product of rehearsal, not a lack thereof.

A good actor will get better with rehearsal. The purpose of rehearsal is to free up the actor to take risks by becoming so familiar with the material that it's practically second nature. If you can't look real after rehearsals, more than likely you couldn't look real before rehearsals either.

Doing thirty takes of a scene is, in a sense, rehearsal...but it's the most destructive kind because it forces the actor to fail in front of the entire crew. The last thing you want is a self-conscious actor.

But this too depends on the actors also. Some insist on rehearsal, some refuse to rehearse. As a director, you better know which kind you're working with before you sign them on to your project.

February 13, 2016 at 6:27PM


Mike Nichols commented on the idea of 'not acting', and said he traces it back to the old Russian film experiment of the guy with the same expression intercut with different images, and viewers all reporting different emotions depending on what image was shown. An actor who is 'doing nothing' is in a way making the safe choice, as it can be interpreted so many different ways by the editor, and consequently the audience. I think a lot of times, directors are more afraid of bad acting, instead of trying to coax great acting, and take the safe route.

October 2, 2016 at 6:12AM, Edited October 2, 6:14AM


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