Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Where do all these Rules come From?


"Now tell it back to me!"  The whole room is in silence, one by one each actor in the room turns in my direction to see how I fare in her little game.  "Cool... marriage falling apart... Got it."  "NO! you MUST rephrase the redirection so I know you understood.  If you can't rephrase it, you don't understand it."  She was belting off to us about how only the actors who rephrase get roles.  Me?  I don't know I'm supposed to rephrase the image of [a pint glass hitting a tile floor in slow motion, shattering into a million pieces].  I got her note, and would be ready to do the scene again.  I got my "flavor", the taste of the piece from the redirect... That's why I said...... (and stay with me here....) "Got. It."

I'm at a 'Tweetup'? to take part in a Q&A with a casting director late one Tuesday night.  I appreciate these meetings, all of them actually, even this one, I do learn a lot about the people who make up our industry.  Like..... 

Where do all these 'rules' come from?

I was talking to a director at a party, who was chatting about going through the casting process.  His 'rule'?  "If I see 'this' [hand position in above photo]. They're out.  They simply don't know how to act and they're wasting my time."  Another producer was mocking actors... "If they sit in the chair like [this], then I throw'em out.  They don't know what they're doing."  Another... "If they walk in the room and say 'Uhh' at all when I ask their name.  They're out, waste of my time."  Another... "If they came in dressed in costume, I'm done.  They can go home."  Another.... "If they decided to not even try to find a smock before the audition, we're done."  Another... "Really?  'Red scarf?'"

It can drive a actor mad.  And we hear this crap from talent buyers all the time.  How do we can we keep track of it all?  What are we supposed to do?

Jon Jankowiak is a very dear friend of mine, and one of the most brilliant minds I've ever had the opportunity to be around, he was also my boss at one time in my life.  Jon gave me a very puzzling piece of life advice that I would recommend you write down [like now!]....  (We were doing customer service at the time)


"PJ, when we talk to people, their experience is absolutely truthful.
But their "facts" are almost always lies.  
Fix the experience.  Ignore the lies."

I'll put his brilliance into context so you can fully appreciate how amazing your life perspective will be after understanding this:
  • You come out of Trader Joe's to find someone with a baseball bat beating the hell out of your car.
  • You yell at him to stop
  • He screams back "YOU DENT MY CAR!  I'LL DENT YOU!!!!!!!!"
You've been presented a "experience" and some "facts".  Experience?  Extreme rage to the point of violence against your car.  Facts?  Because you dented it opening your car door.

Jon's advice?  Fix the experience. Ignore the lies.  

So you just completely drop the 'dent' thing, as whatever is going on is absolutely not about a dent (lie), and focus on why is he so angry he feels necessary to smash your car with a bat (experience).  
  • "Dude!  What is going on?"
  • "I HATE THIS DAMN PLACE. DAMN CARS. DAMN YOU. SPOTS SO SMALL YOU CAN'T EVEN GET OUT OF YOUR CAR!"
  • "DUDE!  It's Trader Joe's, of course the parking lot sucks.  What is going on?"
Then you find out that his wife left him that morning because he got laid off from work.  That's is the 'truth' in his experience.  That's what is actually going on.  That is what needs to be fixed. It has NOTHING to do with WHAT HE ACTUALLY TOLD YOU IT WAS ABOUT!

Cool eh? ;)

Going through ALL of the interactions with EVERYONE I've had in the industry.  I was finally able to peel back the layers to what these people are looking for.  What is the 'truth' experience behind them?

There's only two (2) things any of these people want to see.  As there's only two (2) pieces that make up their experience.  All the rest?  Lies.  Total lies.  Complete and unadulterated don't-even-bother-listening lies. So, what's the "secret sauce?"  Here's the recipe:  
  1. They want to fully know who you are as a person.
  2. They want to fully believe you as an actor.
That's it.  

All the above talent buyers, this is what they all were really looking for.  Jazz-hands director?  I'm sure he held casting, and a bunch of actors came in that did 'jazz-hands' that he didn't believe as actors (experience).  He attributed this to 'jazz-hands (lie).  Redirect-CD?  She had people come in, and the ones who couldn't rephrase the redirection just happened to be the actors she didn't believe (experience).  But she attributed this to a in-ability to rephrase (lie).  Anti-Red CD?  I'm sure some actors came in wearing all read that she didn't believe (experience).  But attributed this to a color (lie).

And it goes on forever people!!!!!

So while you're in your CD workshop, or talking with some rules-deranged producer.  Put up your filter, always remember your recipe.  Find where their experience ends, and their lies begin.

Have a awesome day!
--Paul Jacob Evans