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.

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