“I’m Ready to Try Again If You Are”

March 5, 2024
Some of the best acting I've ever seen has been in an acting class. No directors, no writers, just two actors bringing in a scene. They've worked on it for a week or so on their own, rehearsing it, blocking it, and doing all the emotional preparation they feel will bring the scene to life.
Many times, the scene they present is mesmerizing, brave, intense, richly imaginative, and unbelievably exciting.
As I witnessed this more and more, I slowly realized how an actor can be their own director. This is not meant to exclude or diminish anyone. But how many directors are willing to accept that sometimes they don't have to do anything? Sometimes, all they have to do is step back and let the actors do their work. Not everyone has to be told what to do. And for the actor, accepting that they can be their own director can provide them with a secret security blanket that gives nourishment and protection from almost anything.
Here's something I witnessed. A director was having difficulty getting what he wanted from an actor. He wanted her to be more unappealing in the scene. The actor resisted, not understanding how to achieve what he wanted with the words of the scene. Finally, he erupted at her in front of the entire cast and crew, "Just do it, you ugly fucking bitch!!"
I will never forget the look on her face in the silence that followed. Finally, she stepped up to her mark and said, "I'm ready to try again if you are."
Sure, she could have walked off the film. I wouldn't have blamed her. In fact, I doubt anyone on that set would have minded if she'd just kicked him in the balls. Instead, I saw her dig deep inside and make a decision. She chose to tell herself what the director could not. She chose to honor and value herself. She chose not to shut down. She chose to fight as hard as she could not to take it personally, to stay in the scene, to stay creative and open emotionally—all the things a director should have provided. And most importantly, she chose not to let this director's limitations limit her.
The enormous challenge is that this has to be done willingly, without bitterness or resentment. It is only when the actors dig with complete joy and freedom into themselves that they can offer the best of who they are.
And again, guess who wins? The actor. Because no matter what, this way, their work has the best chance to spring into something alive. And if it does, the director will love it. The scene will work. If the scene works, the film may work.
And what about an actor that's just as screwed up as this director? Or an actor that does this to another actor? Ah, Christ, that's what makes it all really, really interesting.

No Comments.

Leave a replyReply to


Independent Filmmaker & Musician