I’ve had several people ask me recently what I’m doing with acting. So here’s my update and a little insight into preparing for a role.
I’ve taken almost a decade off of film and television acting so that I could spend time raising my girls. You have to understand that you’re either in it, or you’re not. Agents, casting directors, etc, just won’t deal with part time. There are too many other people available. I’ve done plenty of theatre and writing in those years, in fact, I’ve worked harder than when I was ‘acting’ for a living. But now that Calee is older and Creason is off to college, I’m set to do a project that won’t take me away from my younger daughter, rather, I’ll take her with me!
Last year, my husband made and sold a film titled, “Redemption.” If you’re interested, you can check it out at redemption-movie.com It is a post civil war drama about a wealthy southern family that lost everything and comes to California to rebuild their lives. It’s beautiful, moving, and won many awards. It’s also been a lovely calling card toward doing our next project.
So now, for something completely different. We will start shooting, “Scream at the Devil” in February in Venice, Italy. We will take Calee with us, get her a tutor and she will assist in the filming. Then it’s back to L.A. where we will complete the shooting.
The story is of a woman, (little ol’ me) who has dealt with serious psychological problems. She and her husband go to Venice for a second honeymoon, and while they are visiting a very ancient cathedral she picks up something that is older and darker than anything in their known world. Or did she?
The movie continues as a slow decent into hysterical insanity, or is she really sane and the presence she feels is truly malevolent?
Preparing for this kind of role, requires accessing levels of emotion freely that one would normally shut down. I realize I’ve already been noting moments of fear in my life and checking in on how they register in my body, my voice, and my feelings. It’s almost like subconscious homework. Being able to reach down and yank out the insanity that lurks there in all of us, is something I’ve done before, for films and theatre. Think, “Lady Macbeth.” That took some digging. But here’s what happens. At first, it’s frightening, you don’t want to go to that dark and scary place, then you access it a little and learn to build on it, react from that place, it informs you, and at some point, while you are simultaneously wailing and laughing and seeing snakes under wallpaper, some small voice in you says, “This is fun!!” And then you can walk away from it when you’re done. Let it slide off.
Now this film is going to be a full month of ‘going there’ And I’m looking forward to it this time. The more gritty and dramatic the script reads, as Joseph rewrites, the more excited I get. Give me something I can really sink my teeth into!!
The other aspect of playing crazy is how you display it. Good acting is a combination of real sensory work, (feeling it) and technical finesse., (if you can’t see the camera, the camera can’t see you. Where’s my light source? How much of me is in the shot? Did I match the arm movements in the close up to the master shot of the room?) You can do all the ‘feeling’ you want to, but if you’ve covered your face with your hands and crawled into a closet, it won’t be on the film. Unless, of course, there’s a camera in the closet, then… go for it!!
One of the most difficult things about preparing for a role is knowing where the character starts. I’m a fairly resilient creature, people think of me as strong and reliable. This woman, is not. She is coming from a weaker, more abused place. So I have to create a history for her up until the exact moment that first scene starts. I’ll write more about this later, because it’s a whole process that really works for me. I write pages and pages about the childhood, teens, etc, specific events, so that I create a character who would behave and react like the woman I am portraying.
Fun stuff!! And best of all, I’ll be spending time in my favorite city in the world, Calee will eat pasta and proscutto until she pops, and we will learn history and architecture, and art and culture.
Now, I might be crazy, but I think it’s a win-win.
Even if I do have to loose my mind to get there.
Salute e felicita a tutti, Shari. 10-8-2012