December 10, 2016

How Studying Actors’ Methods Helps the Screen Writer

When screenwriting, a mind that is attracted to film narratives will automatically (well, if you’re invested as a creator it’s supposed to) follow the actor’s/ actress’s key styles and mannerism to intake that for your work. But, one thing that can enhance you directly is studying what actors study. This is another one of those things when told could go from profound to “of course”, but on the other side, some when told would marginalize and restrict themselves to one area – in this case the writing and language arts studies only. Nevertheless this is something that someone who is director-bound, or in that aspiring mindset which can be intrinsically tied, depending, to the writer mindset, should want to (possibly even without choice) do to dabble into another area of production, and even having some skillsets in many of them.

I’ve found studying actor training books and articles to be beneficial. As will be expanded on in the future, I do understand why some actors, writers or directors, would want to watch out for their own originality and not, if you will, study too much. Yes, there is room for this understanding and thus where limitation are needed, but this type of thought process doesn’t need to be in the mind of a anyone who hasn’t explored enough information, in this case of nonfictional reading, that will allow them to have the opportunity to limit where needed.

At any rate, for my own work having related to this area has been valuable, and here are some main acting techniques, arranged in my own ordering that I cosign. Other creative writers can benefit from recognizing them within film in action and use for influences in their own work:

n  Regulating Emotional Levels
n  Relaxation with your ‘Inner Voice’ before Action
n  Improvisation
n  Free Association
n  Moment-To-Moment Impulses (Specifically Method Acting)
n  The Art of Not Knowing (A Scene, your character, etc)
n  Concentrating On The Other Actor(s)
n  A Director Blocking Direction To Cause Responses
n  Using The Advantages Of Difference Between Stage And Screen
n  Staying In Character Offscreen (‘Getting Stuck In Your Head’)

Continuing with that said, I do understand that acting styles just like writing styles given the variety out there and the originality within, doesn’t necessarily have wholly and at-hand definitions. Sometimes NOT being able to define something (where ‘The Art of Not Knowing’ could be applied) the mystery of it can be beneficial, and as far as what we know, we define it best to make moves accordingly. I like walking the line: knowing a lot and/or enough and making limits from there on.

Regardless of people’s feelings in the approach and the originality, what’s clear is writers can and I believe do benefit from either basic or in-depth studies of actors’ methods; just like them, you can choose and limit accordingly – whatever works for you. whether by well-known pioneering names behind systematized versions like Stansberg, Stanislavski's or Meisner, or whether by studying certain actors/actresses that you fancy directly; even formulate that ‘style’ based on that person, be them famous, Indie, underrated, or local.

October 1, 2016

JaBig Interview

Glad I found this; though I haven’t posted them in a while, I can be an interview ‘fiend’ when it’s comes to the intriguing creative mind, athletic phenomena of a person (Denzel Washington, Shelly-Ann Fraser, etc just to name a random few respectively), and so on. Not to say I’m putting too much emphasis on this one but cool to hear his story…

JaBig - One of the Best DJs in the World - Afro House Mix Recommend

Amazing mix, especially first and third track,  been repeating them the most, but good overall. Has me diving deeper into Afro House, as it’s a genre that’s seems like I can stick in it permanently without a need to remove myself… luckily there’s so much other music variations and just other unique world music all its own, that wouldn’t do them justice not to rotate around… 

September 14, 2016

Music Thoughts: Sarafina! Soundtrack: “Freedom Coming Tomorrow”:

            The whole album is appealing and recommended, as is other works by 
Mbongeni Ngema, this is just a favorite out the batch and the movie itself. Very catchy Afrobeat/Afropop music.

Why Is Freedom Found In The Mind First?

Whether in terms of psychology or the ideals of metaphysics, freedom is definitely found in the mental realm before the physical. Where ever the aspects or inkling of becoming freed up from burdens and troubles found in the physical, it can’t be amplified or operated at its best, unless there’s a mentality that is contributing to it, controlling it and maintaining it even after it’s in process.

It’s similar to currency, monies, income etc and getting a lot of it; usually, depending on where the mind is at, you’ll purchase and get more of what you already have. It’s the basis of your values, and what you define as ‘true-blue’ values. If you already had books collected, you’re going to get more; into sports and gym training equipment? More of that will come; Into unhealthy or degenerate culture? Pseudo-trends of society that doesn’t actually benefit you? That’s also what will increase, once there’s more capital to be spent on it.

Some of this can be placed upon priorities as well, so you know the right things to get but you go for the unnecessary things first. I’m stating that the use of money, currently or in your future will be based on your mentality, and a freed mind versus an unfree or enslaved one will ‘tell-the-tale’ of the differences of how you operate in this physical reality.

Overall as a concluding point: the mind is our truest most reliable computer (brain computer) and what software programs are inputted and running on it have to be known and understood. Just like situations of spam, junk mail or unnecessary files backing up on the physical computer, your mental can also have this happen, especially in the Information Age and any consumerism-based nation. So your concerns have to be of what’s on your mind – which automatically connects to what’s in your imagination: whether it’s near-dead, cloudy, or as it should be crystal clear, it’s a key determining factor of freedom mentally, thus the action to be followed up physically.

September 9, 2016

House in the Park: Great Event in Atlanta

This turned out to be an awesome event and a re-connection into an afrocentric musical environment. In a funny way, it’s trippy I never knew about it beforehand, as did a lot of other performance artists, B-Boys, etc as they let me know they were aware of it already. Just my being out the loop for a while is all, and though I didn’t have my direct camera, I got a few gems whether the format was video or pictorial through the smartphone.

The sound systems caused their ‘booms’ to be heard even before you’d fully entered the park; all the DJs (DJ Kemit, Salah Ananse,  Kai Alce And Ramon Rawsoul) put Afro House in full effect in a way that hit plenty of vibes, interlacing even 70s funk, afrobeat, electro and hip-hop. The variety that never got tiresome or out of whack; it’s only the body limits that would stop any of us from dancing, from the everyday party-people but definitely in reference to all the pop-lockers and break-dancers that turned up on the scene in various ciphers. This intensity definitely reinvigorated my own skills…

The park environment’s communal nature was felt, even in the context of it getting overcrowded, as the afrocentric fashions, whether directly adorned by the people or displayed by the vendors, couldn’t help but catch your eye: tattoos, ankhs, crystal jewelry, pan-African colored clothing and of host of uniqueness that I could list on and on. You can’t help but want to give credit where it’s due when people put thought into items and appearances, giving more life to an event.

A sister sporting  the "Om" spiritual symbol as tat

Again, the place got packed, definitely a good thing but more than I’d imagined, and with that, I was lucky to make it back outside the bodegas to catch the capoeira practitioners had formed Roda for Jogo. It was good seeing brothers doing the Afro-Brazilian dance-fight game (and in a way, ritual) with drums, shakers and berimbau in musical accompaniment to the participants’ spinning martial artistry.

The Roda (Capoeira game circle) Formation 

Overall, it’s two thumbs up and an experience I’ll definitely get into when it returns. Events like this featuring Afro House/Electronic Afropop, have the energy that’s on par with Carnival (of any kind of any place). It was something refreshing and sustaining, even in some sense supplanting Rave – at least in the sense where it didn’t intermix it’s sounds with it.

August 25, 2016

Black-Speculative-Futurist Fiction: Dark Matter (Book Review Part 2)

These are the best out of the older stories at the time of publication versus those reviewed in Part 1.

W.E.B Du Bois’s “The Comet”: One of the first, maybe the first Black SF stories, and taking all things in considerations – the time it’s written in, etc – it’s pretty good. I can see this story adapted into a film, no doubt I can see certain elements rounded out a little better. The black and white politics – the last black man and white women in the ‘world’ – definitely gets the point across, based in Jim Crow/post-slavery time period of the 1920s. The mystery regarding the Comet in question, is the foundation of the story, so that two of them can have something they couldn’t explain, forcing them to be together, and whether they could stay that way for the sake of survival. The ending plot twist wasn’t expected, though an odd way to end the story – maybe to knock the reader off of their square, 

Derrick Bell’s “Space Traders” is a very experimental SF story that mixes racial and social politics, imagining a scenario of extraterrestrials coming to Earth wanting/demanding to acquire all African Americans in the U.S solely, in exchange for gold they have in abundance, which the bankrupt government are in need of. Various protests and potential economic repercussions follow this plot.

Octavia Butler’s “The Evening and the Morning and the Light” was definitely one of the best out of the collection. A good depth of character-psychology is delved into using Lynn and Alan, in this horror fantasy, where their disease in this world (referred to as DGD for short) causes lifespan shortening, suicidal and self-mutilating zombie-like tendencies.  
odd way to end the story – maybe to knock the reader off of their square, 

Just by how heinous and raw the descriptions are in the beginning pages, you can tell Octavia knew how to shock you but lock you into the story, luckily being well-rounded and not just shock value-based. One of the most interesting things explored is the relation of the artist, or the ‘crazy’ artist, innovator, etc being the flipside to having this disorder, which have, to this day (the story was made in 1987) real-world implications where people, if cultivated correctly, can turn what’s misdiagnosed as a ‘disorder’ into something for far greater creative purposes. The character Beatrice in the story made the reference to “Idiot Savants” for that relation.

This one even provides an afterword by the author describing the research process she used for developing the disease/pathology within the story.

Finally, a valued extra is the Essays after the fiction in the back of the book; for anybody who wants a more thorough wholehearted understanding of this genre, these are essential to read. Mainly, “Racism and Science Fiction” and “Why Blacks Should Read (and Write) Science Fiction”, by Samuel Delany and Charles Saunders respectively.

Overall Re-Read Value: 9/10

June 15, 2016

Black-Speculative-Futurist Fiction: Dark Matter (Book Review Part 1)

Dark Matter is one of the primary collections of short stories espousing the black science fiction literary aesthetics. It personally has some of the most significant eye-opening  pieces for me to the possibilities regarding the black imagination, even already being very familiar with the material within the futurism and fantasy genres overall.

Edited by Sharee R. Thomas, this book blends new (at the time, 2000s era) and older and some even classic foundational stories together, as well as some thorough essays on Afrofuturism at the end, by writers and cultural analysts.

I‘ll leave the whole book for the experience of the readers, and in condensed form, go over my favorites.

Firstly in regards to the newest:  Jewelle Gomez’s “Chicago 1927” was an amazing blend of afro-historical fantasy, slave narrative, and vampire lore; my awe of the story was more-so because I never read a black narrative mixed in with the vampire or supernatural genre like that before at the time, so that has to be factored in. Particularly, the context of Gilda being alive long enough to have lived through a time of direct slavery into post-slavery in the Harlem Renaissance timeline was fascinating. 

“Separation Anxiety” (Evie Shokley) Another well-established one mixing many of my favorite subjects: arts, dance, historical context, and social/cultural divisions. The story primarily revolves around Peaches and her brother Roo (short for Roosovelt) and friend Trevette, living out artistic lifestyles in a neo-ghetto of the 22nd century.

Linda Addison’s “Twice, At Once, Separated” mixes South American rain forest society within an afro-futuristic plot, and for a story not that long it frames a lot and gets a lot done by the end. The ‘Ship’ there on kind of represents ‘god’, and an interconnection of lucid dreaming, astral travel and technology, as well as holding DNA and memories from a dying earth (though never directly said, they did allude to being on a path most likely for a new home).

Nisi Shawl’s “At The Huts of Ajala” is mostly enjoyed, but only off a bit because there are some things, mainly those in parenthesis that come off as nonsensical, throwing off the flow of narrative. This is definitely a story to reread though based on the need to decode some of the content; even while reading I figured some obfuscating parts will make sense on the second-go-round. Specifically, the ‘eternal spiral up’ and the Before-Birth searching for ‘Two Heads’ to describe/be an explanation for Loanna’s second sight. Other than that, it gave off some of the best visions I’ve read in this genre.

“The Pretended” by Darryl A Smith is an elaborately painted story – good for the amount of information you get out of it, always a lot to ‘decode’, definitely the first pages because I didn’t know what was happening until later. Once the general concept of this story was gotten – black peoples minds, languages, etc uploaded into robots databases – I felt at ease as things started to or finally fully made sense, at least the overall concept. Definite props to all the original terminology, which was so much it seemed too much for just a short, like “Afridyne”. Also, within this once you decode it you can see broader world-build and a hella’va history in this future-based story, one projecting that black people are no longer around, and that whites had actually created these robots to replace the presence of them.

Ama Patterson’s “Hussy Strutt”: although many characters were done very well to have identifiable traits – especially Dream and Zinger, one for being an intelligent-oracle but having frantic-random rants, and the other for speaking out-loud storytelling to distract herself to get through this plot – to me some characters were not needed.

Once you get attuned to history explained in the Italic flashbacks, definitely like the four aunts –Chloe, Zora, Alice, Gwen – as adult-basis/foundation of who looking over these kids and how they got in the position of being locked in a basement.

An issue did come with the writer sort of glossing over of very important  structuring detail – and I know, short story and all but – regarding all the natural disasters and economic collapse, this is never given too much structure of how current society in that future-based story, after all that, is still ‘functioning’ to some degree.  We are given enough location basis in the northeast, but… the only thing that I can conclude is that these ‘disasters’ had recently happened, and people are still getting along in a sort of go along-get along kind of way, but I can’t say as there isn’t enough information to maintain the structure of the world and timeline we’re given. Still a good read overall though.

May 10, 2016

When Reviewing And Watching Movie Trailers Becomes A Problem: (Part 2)

My intention, by default in our media-driven world, can’t be to tell anyone they shouldn’t watch trailers at all, but I would say be skillful about it: on one hand, go for the shorter trailers of any movie, including the teasers; next, it’s best to avoid if possible the longest trailers mainly if those are a person’s main anticipated movies of the month, year, next year, etc that are bound to reveal too much in the attempt to grab potential audience members’ attention and get butts-in-seats.

Now, for the reviewers following the trend of reviewing all the trailers (who’d most likely could be, subsequently movie reviewers), has clearly gotten far out of hand. I know Trailer-Reaction videos seem fun and express the thoughts on the flick that’s upcoming, and initially along with most of the time this is harmless, but… there’s too much attention on them, to keep going over each and every trailer – even the teasers, and teasers having teasers - giving you just a little more, each time… it’s so oversaturating that it’s no wonder people are feeling some type of lag and being underwhelmed once they actually see the movie.

Maybe it’s just me being out-of-sync with trailers more than I was a kid, knowing that that’s supposed to be the fun of it, imagining what the movies going to deliver – but the context between the average movie goer, buff and reviewer/critic has to be kept in check, and most issues of watching trailers too much and subverting judgment is an analysis of the reviewer/critic. I would say it’s in the job description but is it? Does it have to be done for every piece of media and iconography related to a movie coming out, instead of just a few overviews and then review the flick when it comes out, so that the opinion can be as objective and unbiased – or best said skillfully bias – as possible?

I’ll breakdown the idea ‘we are all bias’ in one way or another based our frame-of-reference and the balance of objectivity and subjectivity in another blog.

Overall, as this isn’t the biggest issue in cinema, I’m just expressing, but it connects back to a key point even before movie trailers were recognized as an issue in this context: I did not and do not ever want to become jaded watching movies, out of all things in life; I’ve had this in the back of my head for many years long before I was capable of dropping thoughts on it literarily. The intent is to let the film-going experience remain sacred; maybe not as ‘magical’ as it was first encountering it as a child, but definitely not reduced and made mundane because of the critical-thinking that can be done when watching in adulthood.

May 9, 2016

When Reviewing And Watching Movie Trailers Becomes A Problem (Part 1):

As of recent times, this issue came in regards to certain movie trailers, specifically, within the superhero movie craze, showing too much of the movie in something that’s just for prepping, to be enticing and for enhancing expectation. Matter of fact, this extends to other genres (Terminator Genisys); and in times long-past I’ve had my reservations for trailer-viewing, having the inclination to lean away from them so to just go into an theater and watch a film fresh.

Recently paying strict attention to the difference of having seen a trailer and watching versus knowing just a little about the film – as in the synopsis,  poster promotions, some visuals here and there – the latter has proven to be literally refreshing… even if the movie was off-base, bad etc but definitely when it was on-point.

Sort of a double-edged sword situation; sometimes the trailer was really the thing to hype me up, other times showing too much; but these recent examples were such direct violation, plot twists being revealed in the trailers, possibly and most likely spoiling the whole film (even if, people like myself, still enjoyed the films enough). Thus brings me to the dynamic of trailers and professional reviewers – and even beyond trailers to a topic for another time, as far as the focus/involvement in films too repetitiously – and how that’s effecting their judgment and enjoyment of watching movies, versus the common audience or even the movie buff/cinephile.

To keep things legit, this is definitely not some, “Turn your brain off at the door” type of breakdown, don’t want and not promoting that, though not knocking it if people choosing that route gives them the entertainment wanted. Sadly though, too much anticipation can set you up for a letdown, especially if a production team happens to spoil too much in upcoming films’ trailers.

This alters or compromises your whole experience of the movie, now complaining about what the trailers showed you. If I say make a decision to not watch, at least as my rule, trailers that are too extensive – if not attempting most the time to not watch them at all – would probably be responded to with the likes of, “That’s not possible,” based on mass media all around us, or specifically not wanting to wait outside a screening for them to pass, and “It’s not our job to edit the trailers correctly”, and of course, “That’s what their there for, for us to decide whether to go or not”. If not those, then about how the physical action of avoiding film trailers is too much work and responsibility on the part of the viewer.