Actors sometimes have trouble with their dialogue being understood. Maybe they’re running words together, or speaking too quickly, or not enunciating, or a hundred other things. There are two common solutions. One is internal, the other external.
Internal: Deepen your connection to the dialogue (and, of course, to the character and circumstances of the scene). In other words, internalize it more. Really absorb the dialogue’s meaning and emotion. What does it mean to you/your char? What’s the subtext? Why does your character say what s/he says? What does s/he want to emphasize — what words/phrases/meanings? Knowing the answers will automatically and unconsciously vary your pace, tone, and emphasis, all of which will make your delivery and enunciation more understandable.
External: Improve your enunciation. The best method: Use the classic text, Edith Skinner’s Speak with Distinction. It has LOTS of exercises for all aspects of enunciation. Find those that address your issue. Set your own goals, but thirty minutes day is a good start. They’re simple enough to do while driving, walking, cooking, etc. [Note: Practice NOT recommended while fooling around with your partner.]
A friend just asked me to check out his acting reel, and it reminded me of a common error I sometimes see from actors and writers: When seeking feedback from others on your work (reel, script, etc.), in general you should include with the request some context/a roadmap/an intro/some specific questions.
In other words, prepare me for what I’m going to see/read. Eg, for reels:
- Am I seeing one take of each scene, or multiple?
- Do you want extra attention paid to any scenes?
- Is this your general reel, or a specific one (comedy/drama/leading vs supporting, etc.)?
- Do you want to shuffle the order of scenes, or is that set? etc etc.
- Is the basic story set, or are still you working it out?
- Which draft is this? Ie, are you sending this out next week and thus have time for only tweaks?
- Are you concerned about certain characters — are they clear, sympathetic, sufficiently complex, etc.?
- Do you want me to focus on certain aspects — humor, suspense, pathos, theme, etc.?
When I ask for feedback, I tend to list 5-10 specific questions, and then ask for open-ended opinions/reactions.
If you just give/dump the info, it becomes the recipient’s job to sort and decide. Your goal is to minimize the recipient’s time and energy (so you can ask them to review your work again and again), and to maximize their knowledge/experience (which doesn’t happen if their time/energy is spent organizing and sorting)..
Tomorrow night I’m guesting on NBC’s Grimm (9/8c)…as a minister, of all things.
The logline from NBC’s site: “A preacher who exploits his Wesen identity to gain followers arrives in Portland.” Hmm. Sounds like a pitch for an SNL sketch about the primaries.
Also, last week I was on the Grog ‘n’ Prog podcast (Episode 4) for a Lost-centric grilling. Eg, Why was Ethan spared during the Purge? Why wasn’t he in more episodes? And in ep 5.3’s final scene, why was that third palm frond from the left folded IN FOUR PLACES? etc., etc. You’ve been warned. Ep 4 here:
Rev. Robert Palladino, a Roman Catholic priest and master calligrapher whom I briefly portrayed in the 2013 film Jobs, passed away on Feb 26. Steve Jobs once studied with Palladino and later credited him for inspiring the typography of the Mac. Palladino started as a monk, became a priest, left to get married, and returned to priesthood after his wife died.
Yesterday’s NYT biography of Palladino mentioned the Jobs film and described his portrayer as “strapping young actor William Mapother.” Does anyone know if the Times’ Obit desk offers publicity services?
Actors: If you haven’t yet lost a role b/c you were too right for it, your day will come. Pity the lemur.
You can thank cartoonist Charlie Hankin for this. It appeared in The New Yorker, to which I am absurdly devoted. It’s available framed via their online store.