So to begin with, here’s a little vid on some things that I have started learning through my harrowing journey towards trying to make acting a life choice. I thought I’d include it because it discusses building a character as an actor while reading a script. And anyway, they say you should put videos in your blog posts, so here it is:
That’s about (among other things) how to build a character as an actor, based on the little hints and connotations that one can find in a script.
But what about the part before the script? Where you take a need – specifically a need for a character to fulfill a role or plot point or undertake a journey – and build that into something that can be portrayed by an actor, and feel real to an audience?
Collaborative Screen Writing: The Process
So I’ve found myself working with this dude – great dude (haven’t yet asked him if I can put his name in my blog 😛 ) who is working on this video project, and has a concept of what he wants it to look like, but wanted the actors to help him create the characters and plot and script, so that it will feel natural and real. We made friends at the Queen St Commons Film Club (a fantastic place for new, aspiring, and even seasoned film-makers) and started discussing projects. He explained to me his need – of an actor that can create and become a manic, charismatic and manipulative anti-hero to act as the foil of a staunch and loyal protagonist. I expressed an interest, and after seeing my demo reel, he was like “you’re hired as this character.”
Since then he explained the process and we’ve been meeting with the other actor as well, to build these characters and the story.
I now call this “Collaborative Screen Writing” and it looks like its gonna be neat.
Dungeons and Dragons: Creating a Character based on Yourself
Part way through the process, I found out another point of his: he wanted his character to be based – atleast loosely – on me.
In a way I’ve started on easy mode, because creating/playing something based on myself is probably going to be less of a stretch than the usual adopting of a character. I didn’t know that was how it was going to go – I was just going to fill the niche – but this was the will of the director, and hey, collaboration though it be, I’m still ‘just the talent’ lol.
I suppose I may have been type cast 😛
Actually this is a fairly reasonable way to start – just like, when you are playing Dungeons and Dragons for the first time, people will often start with a character that they associate with or even is based on their personality and interests, so that it is easy to slip into.
(My approach was to create an ideal version of myself – a half elven prince with lots of charisma druidic powers – basically what I would want to be if I woke up in Tolkein’s Middle Earth.
Another player chose to base a character on their dark side, creating a devious rogue with
loose morals – allowing her to make decisions based on a matrix the real girl would never have employed.) A lot of people’s first play through an RPG, they will often make characters that resemble themselves – because that helps them feel more involved in it.
This is, ofcourse, an excellent way of getting to know yourself – via DND, or via script writing – and self knowledge is just my actual favourite kind of knowledge, I just love that
stuff. In particular for me this time, the initial character breakdown was done by the director: this allowed me a unique experience to look at not only myself how I see myself – which is typically my perspective – but myself how a new friend sees me, including what he sees as my possible pitfalls. He didn’t make them a perfect match – there are parts that I will need to adopt for the character that aren’t really mine – but the man is clearly a decent judge of character.
It was almost hard not to be offended, as this character is meant to be a sort of Michael-Gone-Wrong. (That is to say, still with some of my traits, but with more emphasis on the negative ones. Like if I had been hardened and darkened by a dark and challenging childhood or something. Like the bad guy version of myself.)
Like my friend who created a character for DND that allowed her to follow her darker side, I am able to use this character to tease out mine, and its been – while a little creepy for me – also a lot of fun.
The result, if it were a buzz feed “Which Super Villain Would you Be” quiz was – atleast the way I’ve chosen to intrepret it – Loki.
A consummate dreamer, always full of ideas and plans and schemes, always ready to dive into a new one, full of cleverness but – lacking wisdom, sometimes follow through and foresight, and tending towards the fatal flaw of arrogance. Insecure, always seeking attention and validation … (Odin knows I love attention.) Charming and charismatic, but selfish and dark and manipulative (apparently if I ever wanna go dark I should give manipulation a try.)
Searching for meaning in life, searching for truth – by pushing the limits of what society considers acceptable. (For me it was mostly just tearaways, but I still get that.) Marching to the beat of his own drum – to the point of insanity. (Remarkable how many people have told me that about myself.) Trying to help the second character to start questioning the hamster wheel of society, to find excitement and uncertainty in life, and find himself – but by bringing him out of his comfort zone like Brad Pitt in fight club, and in so doing, plunges himself further into debauchery and madness.
… I dig it.
The Process Continues
Since then I’ve sat down with the director, and the other main actor, to discuss how the characters will interact and get some plot points together. We are working on the plot for now – the basics – and in the next month hope to finish that, along with the third actor as well, and then start getting into the back story and dialogue. It’s a long process – much more time consuming than just one person sitting down, furiously typing out their brain child, and then telling the actors “here is what you will do” – but my hope is that it will create a product that is natural in its cadence and storyline, funny in that way of real situations being awkwardly sincere or absurdly truthful, and moving in that way of real and visceral emotions.
This all remains to be seen ofcourse – but if nothing else, I can safely say it will be collaborative as shit.
Featured Image: http://filmmakers.pfpca.org/school
Mouse Rogue: https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/25272/baldurs-gate-meme-thread-ii-enhanced-edition-careful-everyone-spoilers/p18
Reflection ball: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindful-living/2013/07/the-10th-mirror-of-self-knowing/
You Got Loki: http://thefangirlproject.com/?p=902
Fight Club Soap: http://www.quickmeme.com/Fight-Club-Soap
Captain Planet: https://memecrunch.com/meme/APE62/with-our-powers-combined