I just got back from The Network Austin Mixer, and it was really good.
Steve Prince (my Meisner coach) and Van Brooks (my film coach), were tonight's featured speakers.
That was a little surreal. It could only have been more so if Lainie Frasier (my voice coach), was up there, too.
Anyway, for various legitimate and important reasons, it was a bit of an abbreviated night, but I got a lot out of both of these guys with whom I study (and for Van, with whom I have studied for a looong time).
The big thing that got me in general was how much alike these two guys' philosophy is. Which makes sense in hindsight, because I gravitate to both of them.
The specific thing that got me was the responsibility of the actor.
Steve made a good point about the increasing accessability of filmmaking, which often gets touted as a good thing (and it is), but he opened my eyes to the fact that whereas it used to be actors and writers who evolved to become directors, now it is often technical folks who take that role, and may not have the same history and buy in and love for and respect of my craft.
I've lived that a bunch, but it took having it spelled out that let me get my arms around some of my (mercilously few) frustrating projects.
The flip side is this creates a need for more ownership, more responsibility for the actor.
As an example, a technical director, Steve said, will tell you what to do ("OK, at this point, you cry"); a seasoned director who loves and understands the craft will tell you what's happening, and let you create the emotion and the moment organically from that info.
But, if you're working with a technical director ("You. Cry now."), it's up to me as an actor to build up my backstory and home work in a way that makes that "do this" request real and believable and authentic.
Such responsibility. Such an important deal. And for me, so motivating.
Also, hanging out with my Meisner classmates, it felt cool -- closer, more intimate, more comfortable. That was unexpected. And nice.
And I ran in to a ton of folks (one or two of whom I'm afraid I'll forget to mention, but it was nice to see Lydia, Nikki, Errich, Mark, Richard, Angela, Lyn, Deana, Lauren, Rob (dude is going to be on SNL, which will make me start watching again), my incredible agent Heather Collier, Donise, of course Steve and Van (both need hugs if you see them; don't ask, do), and a great long conversation with Steve Muccini, who gave me one of my first jobs with Suicide: A Love Story.
Good night, and now I'm motivated to create.