Thursday, 31 August 2006

Audition excitement

I'm a bit excited. :)

I've been in contact with a young Sydney director who's making a a feature film in November/December. I'm meeting with him tomorrow to audition and to "chat about the script and which character you'd like". The film is ultra-low-budget, which means he can't pay people but he can cover transport and meals, which is something at least. Speaking on the phone to him, he was so excited and really eager to hear what I thought of the script and characters. It's sort of a romance with a meaningful twist, and the character I'm keen on is the romantic interest. I feel pretty excited because of how excited he sounds - he called me within minutes of my email, and sent the script right then, and called again later... made me feel like quite the star to have a director calling me asking about a script. I get the feeling he knows what he's doing and he can make this thing happen.

I really really hope I get it. :)

Also tomorrow is the audition for the "psychological" short film, and maybe (if someone gets back to me) the one that'll be in French.

Wish me luck, or blessings, or whatever it is you tend to wish people... :)

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

The Libertine and me...

Yesterday was the shoot for the UTS student's assessment. It went about as well as an inexperienced, shy student director's shoot can go. We spent almost an hour rehearsing and setting up, and then when I finally said I had to leave in 15 minutes they got around to being ready enough to do a take. They were required to film the scene in one shot only so it was pretty simple, we just did three takes and that was it. The director gave a little bit of direction and the camera and sound people (other students) did everything else. The other actress was great, turns out she lives about 15 minutes from me. When I asked where she was from she said the name of our suburb and was all ready to explain where it is (city people don't tend to have heard of it) when I said "No way! You are not!" And then we found out that one of the other students (she was doing the boom) went to my high school. And there we all were, working on some random student assessment shoot in UTS. Small world.

Everyone else there was 19 so I felt like a real old fart. But they were all surprised to find out how old I was so at least they didn't think I was too old-fogie-ish. I'm really enjoying that I apparently look about 5 years younger than I am. :)

After that was done I took the opportunity to go see The Libertine, which is only showing at one cinema in the whole city. I guess it's too arty-farty for the general pleb population. (joking! I'm not a snob really, I promise!). I loved the beginning and the ending (and I DID like John Wilmot whether he likes it or not!), but the in-between was, I think, missing a lot. I have heard talk that a lot of the vital elements of the story were edited out or vetoed by the Weinsteins... and you can tell. There's a fair bit of random weirdness that just isn't explained. But then on the other hand, that doesn't let the film down all that much because it kind of fits in with the random weirdness of Rochester himself.

Anyway, it was definitely worth seeing - especially for nine bucks on Cheap Tuesday. :)

And last night Noel and I sat up late and he was quoting Plunkett & MacLeane (one of his favourite movies) while I quoted The Libertine - we could almost have a conversation! (not a very savoury conversation, mind you, what with all the buggery and swinging both ways and whores and such...) Lots of fun. :)

Sunday, 27 August 2006

Things are picking up a bit...

Just checking in really... good to see so many people were interested in my posts on "Acting Up". *snort* No really, I'll just sit here in the corner and talk to myself...

Just kidding. What would anyone say anyway? :-)

I've been getting lots of short film audition notices the last few weeks... seems most film students are getting started on their final projects so there are lots of student producers and directors looking for 20-something actors and promising something along the lines of "this is unpaid but actors will be well looked after and receive a copy of the film. This will be entered into many film festivals and we anticipate plenty of exposure." All of which is perfectly fine by me... I'm just dying to get stuck into a character or two and spend some good quality time in front of a camera.

So, early this week I'm doing that student assessment shoot, then on Saturday an audition for a psychological short with "born evil" characters. Ooh.

Other auditions coming up are for one about sacrificial love, and one about the difficulties of love - in French ("there is minimal dialogue and you will be coached to speak fluently"!).

Last week I posted off my headshot with a very honest and far-from-standard cover letter to one of Sydney's big agencies, asking for representation. Hopefully they'll contact me, and hopefully not just to say "you sound, er, interesting, but... not right now". I'll ring up next week anyway and try to sweet-talk 'em into it. ;-)

I'm feeling good. Things are happening.

They may not be huge things, but they are somethings.

Wednesday, 23 August 2006

A bit of something

On Friday and Tuesday (assuming I can get a grandmother to look after the girls) I'm going in to UTS to film a scene for a film student. It's just one scene for an assessment and she seemed awfully pleased that I'd volunteered for her. So hey, another bit of experience for me and a little piece for my showreel. I have to be a year 12 student... hmmm maybe I need to drag out an old school uniform... !!!

"Acting Up"; Getting Work

Ok, last one. :-)

The last forum was called "Getting Work" and the panelists were casting director Faith Martin, agent Mark Morrissey, Tony Chu from the Network Action for Filmmakers and Actors, and Mark Kilmurry from the Ensemble Theatre - and hosted by Antonette Collins from ABC radio.

Pretty much all the discussion was the same-old same-old that everyone should know... make sure you know what you're doing (ie be trained), make sure you love what you're doing, and if you're not finding much work, create some.

I must admit that by this stage of the day I had a splitting headache so didn't concentrate overly much on the finer points of the discussion. However, I was very inspired by Mark Morrissey. He struck me as someone who dearly loves the entertainment industry and all of it's people and just wants to be a part of creating some good stuff. He said that when he meets with a potential client - what he's looking for is someone who walks in the door and inspires him. He comes across as genuinely proud of his clients and the work he does for them.

Umm... Faith Martin also had some really good stuff to say about auditions and castings, but damnit, I can't remember much. She was very encouraging, though, and her points impressed me with a reminder that even the *scary* casting people, aggents, directors, producers - all those people who we can be terrified of because "they have the power" - are just as stressed and hardworking and concerned about getting it right as we are.

So, in all, I came away from the day feeling pretty inspired and confident. I believe I'm good enough to succeed at this acting thing and I'm motivated enough to do the hard work it'll take. Now, someone, just send a bunch of good luck my way to go along with it...

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

"Acting Up"; the state of Australian dramatic arts

The panelists on the forum "State of the Arts" were Peter Cousens, Dr Ian Maxwell (head of Performance Studies at USyd), Bill Bennet (a director), Graham Thorburn (from AFTRS) and Lyn Gailey (from the MEAA). It was hosted by Simon Marnie who was, as always, very witty and entertaining (I love seeing radio people in real life and hearing the voice come out of a real person instead of through a radio!).

Their analysis of the Australian arts scene was pretty depressing actually. Lyn Gailey's main point was that the government's funding and support is just crap (my word not hers), and that it's appalling that arts funding has basically not gone up in about 10 - 15 years. The ABC apparently receives a huge amount less than other countries' public broadcasters do from their governments. The BBC, for example, receives stacks of government money and is doing great things with it.

Peter Cousens has recently launched an exciting new company called Kookaburra, a national Musical Theatre company equivalent to the existing opera, ballet and straight theatre companies. He talked about how all the "musicals" that have been successful in recent years (ie The Boy From Oz, the Dusty Springfield show etc) are not really musical theatre at all, just "musical events" that, he thinks, devalue the art of real musical theatre... especially because there's a lot of money behind those shows, so more theatrical shows have a hard time getting a look in. Anyway, Cousens is hoping that Kookaburra will do something about all that by staging some excellent, real, musical theatre.

Bill Bennett also talked about the difficulties of funding and said that even if you do manage to get together a great film on a low budget, you still have to find ways to get it distributed and watched by audiences and just desperately hope that you make your budget back.

There's a bit of sadness that increasing numbers of Australian filmmakers, actors, etc are finding that it's easier to just go overseas where there's more money and hopefully more work.

Another point was that the big overseas films that were coming here in the 90s are not doing so as much anymore - they're going other places (New Zealand, Romania, other small European countries) where it's more affordable and there are fewer restrictions... so that's another big chunk being taken out of the local workload. The comment was made that we have to stop thinking we can rely on foreign filmmakers to fill in the gaps between our own productions... we have to find ways to make sure our own productions are constant and valuable enough that the foreign productions just become supplemental.

Audiences, too, have a big part in this. One panelist related that they were in line at the cinema and the couple next to them were talking. One said "let's see so-and-so" and the other replied "nah, that's Australian." And that seems to be the attitude of a lot of Australian movie-goers - I think it's appalling. We've got to turn that around, we should be proud to go and watch Australian films. It's bizarre - we, as Australians in general, have a big rude attitude towards Americans and the "americanised" culture. Yet when it comes to films, we can't get enough of theirs, while our own great films spend a couple of weeks in the cinema begging for an audience.

Ho hum, like I said, a bit depressing.

So, basically, the hope of these panelists was that the government would get it's act together with funding and genuine support programmes, and that Australian audiences would start to value and appreciate our own local works as much as foreign ones. The, maybe, our industry will have an upswing again and we can start to look forward to a more valuable productive future.

Monday, 21 August 2006

"Acting Up"; Life as an Actor

The 2nd forum I attended was "Life as an Actor", with Lorraine Bayly, David Field, Susie Rugg (she was Bronte from Home and Away), and Chris someone, a recent Ensemble graduate and actor in a new comedy series - and hosted again by Garry Maddox.

A lot of the talk was mundane stuff about how these actors started out, and the best and worst jobs they've had etc. The only discussion points that interested me, really, were about what to make of all the downtime you're likely to have as an actor, and what it's like dealing with rejection.

Lorraine Bayly related that, even though she'd been really lucky and had always worked fairly constantly, she found she really needed some downtime in between shows. She acknowledged that it can be depressing when you have no work on, but that the time to refresh and regenerate after weeks or months of hard work on a role is vital to keeping yourself sane and healthy. She said she had a nervous breakdown at one stage during (or maybe after) one of her TV show roles - working ridiculously long hours and shooting 2 hours of show every week.
I guess it easy for her to say really, when she's been so successful and never needed to worry about paying the bills. But still it's a good reminder that even when you're doing the best job in the world, the work you absolutely love, you do need time off.
And I think that's probably double-important when you have a family. You just can't work constant long hours without time off and expect to keep your relationships healthy and your children nurtured.

David Field had some great comments about rejection. I can't remember exactly what he said but he started with an "ah well, that's life" type comment followed by "no really, it totally f*#ks with you. I can't stand it" (please excuse my hazy paraphrasing). I just loved when he said that because it's another reminder that even fame and success doesn't guarantee you contentment all the time. He also said (in response to an audience member's point that it's easy to pick and choose your roles when you have the luxury of previous success) that no, there's never luxury. You're only as good as your current role and there's always hard work, rejection, hard times... no matter how successful you get.

Oh, that was the other point David made - he said it's absolutely important to know what your politics are, what your beliefs and values are, and to stick to them. The example he gave was that he would never take a role that glorified white America - no matter how much they paid him or how long he'd been out of work (that's when the guy in the audience made the comment about luxury). Basically - there's no point selling out, you'll just end up hating yourself for it. When the guy in the audience (he was one of those big-mouth people that has to join in on everything!) said that was easy for him (David) to say, and that what was he supposed to do as a struggling actor desperate for work if he was offered a McD's commercial, given that he thinks McD's are evil. David then said well, you change your perspective and you take it as a learning opportunity - if you've rarely been on a set then you spend the time you're doing that commercial learning everything you can - watching what the different crew people do, watching how a director works, etc. Lorraine Bayly also chimed in then with the idea that everything you can possibly do is a learning experience.

The other interesting thing about this talk was the vast differences between the two younger actors and the older ones. The Chris chap was sooo fresh from graduation and working in his first job, you could just see the "I know all about that"s flying out of his brain with everything he said. I'm not being mean - I'm pretty sure I was the same both when I finished high school and after I graduated college. You think you know everything - at least as much as the older people who have been teaching you. Chris was saying that he first realised he wanted to be an actor when he was 12 and he "realised he could do a better job than Arnold Schwarzenegger". David leaned into Lorraine next to him and said quietly "careful!". Susie Rugg was also overtly confident and argued a few points with Lorraine Bayly as if she had just as much experience as her.

I feel so old talking about the "young actors" like that, but it's so true. I guess I've recently reached the age where I've realised I really don't know nearly as much about everything as I used to think I did. And I can see the younger people who are in the frame of mind I was about 5 years ago - so naively confident about everything. I really don't miss being like that, I'm so glad to be excited about growing and learning and meeting all the people who have so much more knowledge and experience than me.

Well, that was only going to be a really quick post because I didn't have much to say... but, uh, I guess I did. :-)

Gotta go, Grey's Anatomy is on...

"Acting Up"; Great Acting

The first forum was called "What Makes a Good Actor Great?" , with Sandra Bates, Zika Nester, John McCallum, Doug Anderson, David Field and Garry Maddox. Some of the answers (to the title question) they came up with were;
~ "a wonderful stillness"
~ "a way of drawing everyone in, drawing it all together"
~ "warmth, giving, willingness to be always sharing with the other actors and with the audience"
~ "being totally unselfish"
~ "generosity of spirit"
~ "making bold, courageous, brave choices"
Each person spoke about what they considered to be a truly great performance - David Field spoke of seeing a play once and that "something affected me beyond anything technical, beyond my appreciation of the acting." (paraphrased a bit) Doug Anderson spoke of a moment in a pre-rehearsal workshop when an actress shared a story with the group, saying everytime he even thinks about it, his hairs stand on end and he gets chills with the power of the way that story-telling affected him.

They spoke a little about intuition, and it's vital importance. Zika said "technique is only there for when intuition fails you, when your senses go blank". I loved that. I personally always seem to forget things I've learned about technique - I find it really hard to consciously incorporate "training" into my interpretation and preparation - so this was very validating to me, that it's okay to rely on your innate sense of the character, your emotions, the moment you're in, and to keep all the technique and "rules" way back in the back of your mind.
Another key thing Zika said was "Allow. The operative word in acting is to let things happen. Allow the subconscious to come out".

Something else that resonated with me was to be generous in your actin, to support the other actors around you. One panelist told the story of a director in a casting one day. He called two actors in first, had them read the parts etc, then as he was finishing with them he asked his assistant to "go get the next two". The assistant only found one person outside and came back in saying "there's only one here", so the director quickly grabbed one of the first actors and asked if he could stay a while just to help read with the next person. He did that with every person - he had only booked one person at a time and so every time he kept back the last person to "help", and then only paid attention to them when they were there as helper. He knew that most actors do their best work when they're not focussed on their own performance, but trying their best to support someone else.
David Field reiterated this and added that when you're a supporting actor, SUPPORT. Be focussed on everyone else, LISTEN to them and respond accordingly. He said "if you're in a film, and you have 5 scenes, and the other guy has 35, well you know it's his story, not yours". So you do your role without any thought of your own ego. You're there to be a supporting part of the story. Sandra Bates added that when everyone is truly supporting each other's performance - "everyone will look better because they're all making each other look better".
Then someone else added "Do it for the other person. Try to think as if the other person's needs are greater than your own."

David Field made the comment (above) about making brave choices in response to a question about the impact the director has on an the "greatness" of an actor's performance. His opinion was that if you're truly doing a good job, the director can't make it crap, and vice-versa (this is very much paraphrased!). He said that acting is all about *choices*. When you approach a role, you make a [bold, brave, courageous] choice about how you will do it, and you stick with it; then you see what the director makes of it. If they don't like it they can offer helpful criticism, but hey, they might just love it and it might just be exactly right.

In amongst all of that, a couple of the panelists (particularly John McCallum I think) admitted that there is some kind of "x-factor" in great actors - something that makes them jump out at you and glues you to their face and actions. It was also conceded that luck sometimes has a lot to do with it.

In summary, I think the general consensus was that generosity, sharp intuition, unselfishness, some luck, and some undefinable aura/spirit/inspiration... are what make a good actor great.

"Acting Up"; Some uplifting moments.

The biggest vibe I got from yesterday about being an actor, and being successful, is that you have to LOVE it, and you have to be rather mad. Sounds good to me. :-)

The acting workshop in the morning was great. The teacher was Alison Ingram who attended the Ensemble years ago and spent a while training/working in New York. She and I chatted a bit while waiting for everyone else. Most participants were a fair bit younger than me, but there were a couple of older ones too, and everyone was serious about making an effort and participating. It started out with a discussion questioning what the essence of acting is - the answer; listening. Excellent. I have heard that before, of course, along the way, but yesterday it finally struck me how important that is. I realised I've spent way too much of my acting energy focussing on myself and my own character and not doing nearly enough listening.
Anyway, then we did a couple of simple conflict exercises. I volunteered first (of course!) with another girl and we did the "yes, no" thing (one person only says yes and one person only says no). I was yes. It became quite compelling and desperate as I tried to think of new tacks to take to convince the "no" girl of my "yes". Afterwards the others commented htat they coudl see we both tried lots of different approaches but that we could've done more. Alison agreed and added that she saw a very real, energetic connection between us and that we were both really involved. Yay. :)
Others volunterered for a few more similar exercises. An interesting one was where the two people's phrases were "I"m hungry" and "go away". The two who did that one came up wiht really interesting ways of dealing with each other and we could really see moments where the "I'm hungry" boy almost convinced the "go away" lady. It was really involving.
Then we broke into differnt pairs and were instructed to think of one objective that one person wants, adn the only parameter for the impro was that that person had to try to achieve that objective, adn the other person had to resist. I was with a lovely boy named Will (I had to restrain myself from saying "short for William I presume? Good strong name. After your father hey?") and we decided that I wanted him to give me a ride to the airport. We did really well, I thought, I truly had an interesting time trying to convince him. When the teacher asked how it felt I couldn't really answer, I just said "good I guess, I felt normal..." and she thought that was a great answer because "if you can't describe what it was like that means you were really in there, really just trying to get your objective". Yay for good feedback.
It was a great way to start the day, with a bit of uplifting to help my confidence. :-)

So, feeling great, I then went for the screen test. A great Ensemble man named Dave had a lovely little chat and showed me in, along with two young boys, to meet the director Mark (I wish I'd gotten everyone surnames!). Mark was lovely too and once he realised I was rather more in-the-know than the two young fellas he took some time to have a small chat and made me really comfortable. The boys got a section of script from Shrek and I got Holly from The Wedding Singer. I went first and my first read felt a bit dodgy. Mark commented that I needed to focus more on listening to the other actor (who was reading off-camera for me), and to take more time to respond to her. The 2nd time through I did a much better job and Mark said I'd done really well, and that I looked great on the screen. Nice. :-) When I was done Mark walked me to the door and asked a bit about me, and we had a short chat about actors who start their careers after they've had kids. It was great talking to him and I'm kicking myself now that I didn't think to give him my card (I completely forgot I had them!).

Okay, I think I've said "lovely chat" a few too many times now. But they were!

Sunday, 20 August 2006

"Acting Up" at Luna Park

Today was a great day. :)

I had a fabulous time in the acting workshop; it was so great just to be in the acting *zone* again and in a group of people creating some drama... even if it was just a few two-minute impros.

The teacher's comment to me while I was waiting for the class to start was "so, where are you in the whole high-school thing?" Yeah! Who says being a parent makes you get old?

After I said I was well and truly finished high school, and a degree, and was married with two kids, she said "oh great, so you're a real person then, one of us!" I think she mostly works with teenagers and was a bit excited to have proper grown-ups in her class.

I did get to do a screen-test, but it was just a practise thing really, nothing will come of it. Still, it was a real film director doing it and it was a great experience. He had great feedback for me and some lovely compliments too. (and I didn't need to do a monologue, just read from a film script.) I was very pleased with how I did.

There were a few great panel discussions with such people as Lorraine Bayly, Mark Morrissey, Faith Martin, David Field (he was great to listen to), Bill Bennett (a film director who I'd love to meet again, I really liked what he had to say), Peter Cousens... I'll be back tomorrow with more of the great stuff all these people said but right now I have a headache and am waiting on my delivery boy (er, that'd be Noel) to bring the pizza.

More tomorrow...

Saturday, 19 August 2006

My brain's a little over-full

This is the monologue I've been trying to learn today:

I've been realisin' for ages that I'm, y'know, slightly out of step. I'm twenty-six. I should've had a baby by now; everyone expects it. I'm sure me husband thinks I'm sterile. He was moanin' all the time, y'know, "Come off the pill, let's have a baby". I told him I'd come off it, just to shut him up. But I'm still on it. See, I don't wanna baby yet. I wanna discover meself first. Do you understand that?
Yeh. They wouldn't round our way. They'd think I was mental. I tried to explain it to me husband but between you an' me I think he's thick. No, he's not thick, he's blind, he doesn't want to see. You know if I'm readin' or watchin' somethin' different on telly he gets dead narked. At first I just told him to piss off but then I realised that it was no good doin' that, that I had to explain to him. I tried to explain that I wanted a better way of livin' me life. He listened to me. But he didn't understand because when I'd finished he said he agreed with me and that we should start savin' the money to move out of our estate and get a house out in Formby. Even if it was a new house I wanted I wouldn't go an' live in Formby. I hate that hole.

Rita, from Educating Rita by Willy Russell.

This, however, is what's been playing over and over and over through my head all afternoon and evening:

Off to the library, one two three.
Off to the library, you and me.
And when we get there, what do we see?
Books, books, books, books, books,
Everywhere we look.

from a song on Justine Clarke's album "I Like to Sing", probably titled "The Library", but I don't actually know.

(Aaaggh! Make it stop!)

Off to Luna Park tomorrow for the Open Day. Really looking forward to it. I just made myself up a bunch of business cards with my headshot, so that I'll have something to give to all those film directors who'll be spotting me and wanting me to be their next big thing.
*wink wink, nudge nudge*


Thursday, 17 August 2006

Depp as Sweeney Todd

It's official - Johnny Depp is collaborating with Tim Burton again to play Sweeney Todd in a movie adaptation next year.

That will be veerry interesting. Gotta love Tim and Johnny. :) I can't wait.

"Dead Man" with Johnny Depp

I watched this film on SBS last night. Wow. What a bizarre and fascinating film.

Depp's character is beautiful, as always, and Gary Farmer as Nobody is just riveting. It was over 2 hours (yay for no ads on SBS) and I seriously couldn't take my eyes off the screen for the whole movie.

Depp's amazing physical acting comes to the fore. There's not a great deal of dialogue and the character Blake actually spend a large section of the movie lying pretty still while Nobody attends to him, and yet still we are drawn to that face that reveals so much and keeps the character so present and alive that we just can't look away.

The directing (Jim Jarmusch) has been much criticised apparently, and yeah, there were some bits that made me think huh? but like I said I couldn't tear myself away for one instant, so hey, good enough for me!

Another one to add to the DVDs to Buy list. :)

And speaking of DVDs and Johnny Depp - can anyone in the world tell me if Depp's The Brave has been released on Region 4 DVD? I really wanna see it, but it only seems to exist on Region 1.

Yippee!! *happy dance*

After my big moan yesterday about having no money and worrying about not being able to pay for the Showcast listing, I called the Family Assistance people and found out that they processed our tax details and tomorrow there'll be a very nice large sum in my bank account. Yay! I'll be able to pay for Showcast and pay off a couple of big bills. And maybe even get my hair done.

Oh, the excitement. :)

Wednesday, 16 August 2006

La de dah...

Haven't had much to blog about lately, sorry. I keep meaning to write more on the topic of films and acting - psychological/realistic acting and symbolic/stylistic acting.... but the thoughts never find their way into proper sentences and paragraphs and I haven't done enough reading/watching yet to sound intelligent enough. Gotta find some time to sit down and watch lots of movies... wish I had the luxury...

There's a bit of excitement on the way though - on Sunday I'm going to the Ensemble Studios Open Day - "Acting Up" at Luna Park. It's a day of acting workshops and talks by industry professionals about being an actor, getting work, arts in Australia etc. And apparently there's opportunity to do a screen test with casting agents and directors, so I'm polishing up a couple of monologues in case I get the chance.

I'm still plugging away trying to find some part-time work. I didn't even hear back about any of the jobs I applied for. I guess the days are gone of calling people to politely let them know that the position has been taken. Goodness knows, people wouldn't want to spend an extra 43 seconds of effort to be courteous. So for the moment, still desperately hoping we get some extra tax money back. Listings for Showcast close on 1st September so if I don't have $130 by then I'll be stuck up You-Know-What Creek without a paddle for the next year.

I'm even thinking about starting Avon or something. Ugh.

Friday, 11 August 2006

Thoughts about film as art...

I just posted this in a comments thread on Merlin's blog, and rather impressed myself with a few of my thoughts, so thought I'd pop it in here and see what anyone else thinks. The discussion, amongst other things, was about the plot of the 2nd Pirates of the Caribbean, and also the fact that lots of people (Merlin and I especially) are reading lots of things into the themes of the film, and whether or not that's a good thing to do...

Firstly, I think all the talk about DMC having no plot, or an unclear plot, is just silly. Yes, it's a meandering plot that takes a little concentration. But hey, life is a meandering plot. I love the plot of DMC, I did the first time I saw it. But then, that kind fo plot where you really don't know the full story until the very end is my favourite kind. (or in other words, what Merlin said - a movie you have to watch several times and think about backwards - I still think it's extremely enjoyable the right way round and the first time, but you get more levels out of it when you know their direction). Some people don't like it, they think you should always be able to know what's happening or where everyone's going. Fair enough, nobody has to like the same thing, but that doesn't mean it's *bad* or *wrong*.

The ending I especially loved. It surprised me and thrilled me. I was absolutely beside myself during the last few scenes with anticipation, and I just about jumped out of my seat with joy when Barbossa came into view down those stairs.

So yeah, I totally don't get what people are complaining about. But maybe that's just me.

As far as authorial intent and whether or not there are valid allegories etc...Let's remember that films, plays, novels are *entertainment*. I don't say that in a light way, I believe entertainment is an extremely valuable commodity and very much worth pursuing (otherwise why would I be striving to make it my life's work). But the point is, when someone writes a novel or performs a play or creates a film - it's purpose is to go out into the ether nand find it's place in everyone else's eyes and ears. To dig a little bit into people's imaginations and be enjoyed, studied, challenged and expanded by the thought processes of the reader/audience.

Anyone who creates an artwork knows that nobody will look at their artwork and see exactly the same thing they see themselves. Some people will see less than what the creator put in, some people will see more, some people will see something quite different altogether. That's the beauty of art, it allows us to use our imaginations and join in with the creator on an exploration of some idea or thought or image. Whatever you see in a particular work, whatever strikes you abotu it and means something to you, is valid and exciting. Whether anyone else sees the same thing is beside the point.

If artists were really concerned about their art being "interpreted" "wrongly", they woudl keep their art at home for themselves.

Along those lines, saying that it's okay to find depth and imagery in Tolkein or Lewis, but not in a modern film, strikes me as rather high-brow. That's just saying that certain forms of art have more merit and skill than others, which isn't true. Tolkein himself, I think, shunned ideas of his works having allegorical meanings, and yet that never stopped anyone finding those meanings and findign great joy in the study of them.

Merlin's points about Pirates having rich textual traditions is great, but I personally don't mind if a piece has a great "ancestry" or not, I love what I see for what I see. To me, a completely new story can be just as rich as an old one (mind you, pretty much all stories are influenced by old ones, somaybe what I mean is that *undefinable* ancestry is, to me, just as valid as a definite textual tradition).

The only difference, if you're talking classics like Tolkein vs new writers like Ted/Terry etc, is that film is visual rather than written, and a film has more than one author or creator. I don't think we're giving Ted/Terry/Gore/Johnny more "credit than they deserve", I think we're just exploring ideas and remarking on the cleverness of those who initiated those ideas.

Tuesday, 8 August 2006

Random Quote

Merlin's lengthy opening sentence in this post reminded me of this quote from a Winnie-the-Pooh story I read to my daughter a few nights ago:

You can imagine Piglet's joy when at last the ship came in sight of him. In after-years he liked to think that he had been in Very Great Danger during the Terrible Flood, but the only danger he had really been in was the last half-hour of his imprisonment, when Owl, who had just flown up, sat on a branch of his tree to comfort him, and told him a very long story about an aunt who had once laid a seagull's egg by mistake, and the story went on and on, rather like this sentence, until Piglet who was listening out of his window without much hope, went to sleep quietly and naturally, slipping slowly out of the window towards the water until he was only hanging on by his toes, at which moment, luckily, a sudden loud squawk from Owl, which was really part of the story, being what his aunt said, woke the Piglet up and just gave him time to jerk himself back into safety and say, 'how interesting, and did she?' when - well you can imagine his joy when at last he saw the good ship, Brain of Pooh (Captain, C. Robin; 1st Mate, P. Bear) coming over the sea to rescue him...
And as that is really the end of the story, and I am very tired after that last sentence, I thnk I shall stop there.

from Surrounded by Water, from Winnie-the-Pooh, The Complete COllection of Stories, by A.A. Milne.

Monday, 7 August 2006

"Finding Neverland"

Why did I not know until recently that this film existed? Oh, what a beautiful, beautiful film.

It's magical. You should go hire it, or buy it.

Go on. :-)

What is acting then?

More ponderings about acting...

I was cruising around the net looking through casting and audition notice websites, and I came across a forum for actors connected to a casting site. There was a thread on the forum discussing whether or not one should include "extra" or "background" work on one's CV.

The general consensus was yes, but only until you have a few better jobs to put down, then you remove the extras from the list. And you should put the title of a character - eg "restaurant patron", "sailor" - not just "extra".

However, some of the other responses really bothered me; they said "No. Background work is not acting." Simple as that.

Well, why not? What's the definition of acting? Isn't it something like portraying a character in an established scene to help create a story... or something... seems to me an extra is doing that. In a small way, yes, but not insignificant. The extra still needs to be "in character". It's not like you can just grab anyone and plop them into a scene without any explanation of who they could be, and expect it to turn out the same as when you give the extras characters and objectives (even if it's just "you're a customer, you want a coffee").

Okay, this is better. The Oxford Dictionary defines "act" as carry out (an incident or story) in mimicry, represent, perform a play or part; personate (character in a play or life); perform actions...

So, perhaps those objectors simply meant that extra work isn't skilled acting, and therefore not worth telling anyone about. After all, you don't need a whole bunch of training or experience to just act like a normal person in the background. (That, actually, kinda puts another hole in the argument because in a lot of instances the extras arent' normal people at all - they're mutant pirates or primitve cannibals or space-people from a different universe. Those things ouwld take at least a little bit of skill and effort.)

I suppose what it would boil down to is the opinion of each different casting person or director on the relevance of an actor's extra work. Some might appreciate that you're just starting out (hey, everyone starts out) and are at least doing something to get yourself out there. Others, I hear, can be quite snobby about "extra" actors, as if they're a whole different breed from "role" actors, and never the twain shall meet. That is sometimes true, of course, because plenty of people work as extras and have no desire for featured roles. So I guess, really, like so much of this silly business of ours... it's a lot about who you know, not what you know. You might be at an audition and come across a director who says "wow, you've been working hard on all these extras gigs, good to find someone who's happy to do the hard work, I like you." Or you might just get "only extra parts hey? Hmmm..... next!"

Fickle. That's what it is.

I love the word fickle. It sounds like one of my daughter's made-up words.

In related news... I've decided I won't sign up with that agency that does extra/commercial work. I'll put myself into Showcast etc, freelance it for a few more months and then, later in the financial year, do the rounds of the agents again. I'd still be happy to do some extra work or TVCs while I'm starting out but I don't want to give anyone the impression that I'll be happy to stick with that kind of work.

Right at the moment, though, anything that pays would be wonderful.

Saturday, 5 August 2006

Forgot to say; the other thing I loved about the film was how sparse it was. For the majority of the movie it was just the two lead characters, and the Australian desert. And there was not all that much music to interfere with the normal sounds like leaves, sand, campfire, water. The two leads didn't even spend all that much time talking... which is a testament to both actors' talents in the physicality and reality of their characters.

It was like the landscape itself was the lead role, the driving force of the story of the film. Nice.

Japanese Story

Funny that I was talking about Toni Collette yesterday, because it turned out there were two films on TV last night starring her. I watched one; Japanese Story, about a company executive who hosts a Japanese company executive for a visit to Aus, and drives him around the outback.

I really really liked it. It felt very long but I didn't get bored. Loved Toni's performance. A very poignant moment was when Hiro dies - he dives straight into a waterhole and into a sugmerged log, they're in the middle of nowhere and she has to get him out and take him somewhere - and there's all the emotion of despair and panic and disbelief all at once. I really related to what she was doing, I felt her panic and shock and despair.

The sequence of her dragging him out of the water and trying to get him into the car went on for a long time... and yet it worked. All she was doing was struggling to drag a dead body up and out and into the car, but it was so real that it was riveting to watch even when it seemed she was never going to manage it and had to keep trying again. I was fascinated by the fact that I was still fasscinated... because it would be very easy to do that scene completely wrong and have it be boring and frustrating to watch.

Toni was great to watch; one of those people you can't take your eyes off for long. She's not *beautiful* in the conventional sense - she has big crooked teeth and rough skin, but she's so interesting to look at.

Ramble ramble... oh, and the other actors were great too. :-) I didn't catch the Japanese man's name but he was really interesting too, quite funny.

Friday, 4 August 2006


I've been thinking lately about the people who inspire me... specifically, the actors who inspire me. So I was pondering to myself what exactly is it that I'm inspired by?

My first answer was really good acting. Okay, but what does that mean? I was considering a few of the actors I admire - Johnny Depp, Liam Neeson, Toni Collette, Nicole Kidman, Susan Sarandon. I think what they have in common is an ability to play, and play well, a diverse array of characters... to act a character, rather than a type.

So many big-name actors are big simply because we like the role they act - and that's all they do, one role - the moody action hero, or the smart sexy powerful chick, or the cute funny girl. Which is fine. There's a place for that. (a big wealthy famous place, obviously.)

Hmmm, but that's not a good enough answer. They can play great, varying characters... but how? How do they do it? What exactly is it about them that I aspire to? (apart from the means to buy one's own island in the Bahamas of course...)

Maybe it can't be defined. Maybe "good acting" is just an innate ability, something you either can do or can't do ("there's what a man can do, and what a man can't do"; thanks, Captain Jack) Is it following your artistic instinct; throwing caution to the wind; taking risks; trying new things. Mostly - having the confidence in yourself to let yourself do all those things. The confidence to stand up and say "I'll do that, and I'll do it with all I've got." A dedication to artistic interest, no matter what the rest of the world might think of it.

Speaking of throwing caution to the wind - Toni Collette dropped out of NIDA to do Muriel's Wedding, against the advice of her teachers. That rocks. That alone gets her on my people who inspire me list.

Apart from their talents, the people on my list are there also because of their commitment to their families and their private life. I love that Johnny Depp keeps his children out of the public eye (I didn't even know he had kids until a few weeks ago), and that he and Vanessa are able to get on with their careers and do plenty of great work while still having (what appears to be) a wonderful family relationship. Nicole Kidman is the same with her kids - you never even hear about them, which I think is great. Susan Sarandon and her kids volunteer at homeless shelters and soup kitchens on weekends. She's teaching those kids that there's way more to life than having a fabulous career... more celebrity's kids could do with that kind of normality in their lives. (And I'm sure there are plenty of others who do have that even with celebrity parents, just that these are the ones I know of.)

Okay enough rambling about that... my own normal (wonderful!) kids need me...

Random piece of excitement.

My baby girl Bear slept through for the first time last night!
10 hours!
In her own room!

Just had to share that with the world. I fully expect her to wake up at least 3.2 million times tonight, just to make up for it.

And I don't want to hear a word about how "most babies" sleep through well before they're 18 months old. Most babies are obviously far more boring than my Bear.

Ok, back to your regular broadcast...

Thursday, 3 August 2006

Books... I've been tagged...

The lovely Jo has tagged me.... just as well I had plenty of opportunities all night to be awake (thanks Miss Bear!) thinking up some answers...

1. One book that changed your life:
The Bible. Specifically; Ephesians.

2. One book that you've read more than once:
First one I thought of was Myst.... but I'm pretty sure I've read all my books more than once.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island:
101 BBQ recipes for fresh fish and coconut... (ok I made that up... but it would be handy yes?)

4. One book that made you laugh:
From Hate to Love, Barbara Cartland (Sorry, I'm sure there are some that made me laugh with them, but can't think of them right now...)

5. One book that made you cry:
Lots! I love crying. The first one I thought of, though ,was The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis.

6. One book that you wish had been written:
How to Grow Up; a manual for men whose mothers never let them.

7. One book you wish had never been written:
You Need More Money, brian houston.

8. One book you're currently reading:
Winnie the Pooh: The House at Pooh Corner, by A.A. Milne. (really need to get to the library!)

9. One book you've been meaning to read:
The 2nd Harry Potter book (hee hee, don't even know what it's called...)

10. Now I'm supposed to "tag" 4 people.
Connor? (if you're reading?) and...
whoever is the next blogger to read this and volunteer... anyone?