As many of you know, I wrote, produced, and directed a feature film entitled “Potential Inertia” that is readily available worldwide. What you probably don’t know is that there’s a whole lot going on in the film’s story that you most likely didn’t catch.
Aside from the character of Willie mysteriously disappearing from the narrative shortly after the third act starts, I explored a lot of voyeurism which you see taking place on the screen. It’s, a lot of times, something we don’t often think about when it comes to watching movies, but ultimately as moviegoers we’re actually becoming voyeurs ourselves by the simple act of watching a film. We’re peering into the lives of those characters on screen and they have no idea we’re doing so.
Not only do we become voyeurs, but the characters themselves show their own personal voyeuristic tendencies throughout my narrative. For example, there is a brief moment of our main protagonist, Declan (and I use that term loosely, because one thing I tried to do with the film is blur the line between the classical protagonist and antagonist by actually making them the same person,) looking at his own sister’s chest during the bar sequence. It’s subtile, quick, but it’s there. It’s also a moment of foreshadowing to a later scene. It wasn’t intended to foreshadow, but like many happy accidents it works. Later in the scene, Declan and Kevin gaze across the bar at Katie with different points of view about why she’s there. They’ve placed themselves into her moment without her permission – Declan wondering about her motives, and Kevin confident he knows them yet still a little interested if he’s got them figured out.
Randy, our hopeless romantic, pines from afar for Sarah, who is ultimately revealed as the entertainment for the fraternity party scene, notices the “cute little dimples in her shoulders” instead of looking at the obvious woman parts every other fraternity guy is gazing at. Voyeurism runs deep in the situation of stripping for a living, with a stripper giving as much of herself as she can visually with minimal physical contact. It’s a strong, intimate act to allow yourself to show people physical parts of yourself which you normally wouldn’t show without being intimate in the first place. Yet Randy makes this voyeuristic act two-fold by taking the moment to notice something even more intimate – shoulder dimples – something you normally wouldn’t notice unless you knew every part of someone’s body, someone you’ve had an emotional bond with. It’s a revelation for him that is both sexual and emotional. Yet, for some reason, when he reveals this revelation to Jacob, we as a voyeuristic audience giggle at his discovery. Whether we are laughing because it seems outrageous that he even noticed something like that, or we feel like an uncomfortably guilty audience because we were staring at breasts, we have to admit to ourselves that either way we enjoyed the situation.
And that’s why we inadvertently all become voyeurs, because we feel this intrinsic need to compare our lives with others’. A lot of times that comparison is born out of the want to see others fail worse than we do which, in turn, makes us feel better about ourselves when that occurs.
There are more instances in the film that display voyeurism, but I won’t spoil the fun of watching it so people can find out what those instances are.
Our lives are full of voyeurism. Embrace it, but be aware of it. Watch a movie and enjoy it.
Copyright (C) 2015 Matt Croyle. All Rights Reserved.
(OIL CITY, PA) – With the worldwide release of Matt Croyle’s first feature film, his production company, One Fish Films, has released the shooting script version of the original screenplay for the film. People are now able to download and read the screenplay for free.
The screenplay is located here: PotentialInertia-ShootingScriptPDF
The film is available worldwide at: http://potentialinertia.vhx.tv and http://www.indiereign.com/videos/potential-inertia
With 99.95% of my first feature shot, I thought I would give some personal tips on how to actually get believable performances from your actors. And while this may sound like a pretty simple task — “Just say the lines.” or “Give me a bit more sadness behind it.” — it definitely is not a simple thing at all. I will explain why it isn’t so simple, and then I will give you some tricks I, myself, was able to use on my feature, ‘Potential Inertia’.
SUBJECTIVITY & PERCEPTION
As a director, you have to ask yourself: “What is believable and what isn’t?” The answer is: It’s subjective. I think one has to truly grasp what kind of film they are actually making. Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? All types of films require all types of acting — “styles” if you will. However, regardless of genre, even if it’s an “over-the-top” comedy, all performances must be believable to an audience if the audience is going to be willing to come along with you for a ride.
What is “real” actually starts with the writer. It is how the writer writes the characters themselves. What is real in the world of the character may not necessarily be real to the audience.
For example: In ‘Dumb and Dumber’, Harry and Lloyd are not very realistic characters to an audience. They’re portrayed as cartoonish embellishments of what low intelligence would be — brilliant comedic acting by Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, but they seem not very plausible in real-life. However, every other character in the film is just like you and me. These are not only choices by the writer, for writing such fantastic lines, but also the direction that has been given to every actor on set. The normality of the supporting characters embellishes, even more, the absurdity in the direction that was given to Carrey and Daniels — and we’re willing to “believe” them as being “real” because the reality is subjective to the characters themselves.
The actor must make choices — or have those choices made for them — that would best interpret how that character would physically react or vocalize given a specific situation(s). The director’s job is to make sure their vision of said situation(s) translates to an audience in the most realistic way possible. If the audience can’t connect, or buy into the reality of what they are seeing, then it’s ultimately the director’s fault.
THE EXPERIENCE FACTOR
So, how exactly does one go about getting their actors to pull off this remarkable feat of morphing themselves into what you want and need from them? How do you get your actors to be “real”? How do you get your actors to be “believable”?
Every actor is a different monster, and I say ‘Monster’ in a very loving way. I’m also an actor, so I know what it feels like to be molded, scorned, twisted, praised, rewarded, and the plethora of feelings that come with the job. But, as a director I must realize that each person I’m directing is different. Each has different experience. Each has a different process they use to get into character.
In my first feature film, ‘Potential Inertia’, the experience of my actors runs the gamut. I have had to direct people who have been leads in previous independent features, people who have been background and supporting roles in major Hollywood movies, and people who have had no acting experience in their entire lives.
My actors with experience on stage, screen, or both, all have their own processes. For those folks, it was imperative that I made clear what kind of film this was to be — the tone, the level of intensity or urgency for each scene, and the fact that I didn’t want their lines to sound inelastic. And with those experienced folks I was able to allow a level of trust that veteran actors deserve, because they are the ones that can understand the structure of a scene. They are the one’s who you really need to mentor those lacking the time spent in front of an audience. Regardless, each of those actors have individual processes, and as a director it is my responsibility, again, to understand each process by itself, be able to explain what I want to coincide with each process, and be able to find a cohesive way to mesh each actor together with another.
It can be extremely fun or totally frustrating to direct an actor who has never been in front of a camera before. They are extremely aware of the camera itself. They are not sure of themselves, or what to expect from a more experienced actor they have to do a scene with. It is a real test to put someone on screen who hasn’t the slightest clue of what they are doing.
I have knack at “seeing” people. I mean, really seeing who they are. Not all extroverts make good actors. Not all introverts can’t be actors. However, all “passionate” people can. I believe putting someone who is a passionate person in front of the camera for their first role will be a better idea than putting someone there who isn’t one.
The following notes are a bit of advice I have for those directors trying to get believable performances from their actors. These notes are a direct result of trying to make my first feature film as conversationally believable as possible using both veteran and rookie actors. I hope you all find them useful.
- Always remember that every actor has a different process, especially those veterans you have in your cast.
- Let the words in the script work for you, and not against you. If you need to give an actor a line reading, especially the rookies, do not be afraid to do so in the most polite manner possible. Let your actors play, but if they’re not giving you the delivery you want, make sure you show them what you need.
- Make sure your actors understand what each scene is about, and what is happening both on the surface and underneath it. Scene study with your actors can be a valuable tool when your actors are making decisions while the camera is rolling. If they don’t know why they’re saying something, if they don’t know their motivation, then there will be no focus or purpose in the delivery of their dialogue.
- Remind your actors to BREATHE. Breathing is imperative to coming across as believable. People breathe when they speak.
- Remind your actors to NOT RUSH their lines (unless rushing their lines is a character trait, or the scene calls for it).
- Let your actors veer slightly off script, perhaps to say their lines in their own way. Unless a specific line MUST be included in the story fully intact, sometimes letting your actors take a more personal approach to delivering them results in a more conversational result.
- Prepare them for the intensity or lack thereof in each scene.
I think it is important as a director to remember that each set is different, along with each script, and one must always take those two factors into consideration when looking at what is ‘real’ and ‘believable’. Please remember that your actors are an extension of you, and your vision, for what the film will ultimately be. Work WITH them, have fun WITH them, and communicate WITH them.