Recently, I directed my first official short film, “Cori’s First Horror Movie“, and it was an amazing experience. I’ve directed/produced things in the past such as comedy sketches and plays, but this was my first time putting together an entire piece that I wrote, directed, and starred in for film. And, I discovered in doing so, that my least favorite part was the “starring in” aspect. Although I do love acting, being in front of the camera this time wasn’t the most satisfying aspect of this project for me.
In going through the stressful, yet rewarding, process of making a movie, I came across an interesting concept that helped me when I had that moment of slight panic a week before we were to shoot; that I also had lines to learn! Yikes. What I realized though, was that as I was going through the script and trying to get the words to be a part of who I was as the character, I realized, that for the most part the lines were already in me. I wrote it after all, and then re-wrote it, and then re-wrote it some more until it was up to par with what I felt it should be. And amazingly, I didn’t have to memorize much because it flowed pretty easily. Now why shouldn’t every script I have to memorize come that easy? Maybe it can.
So here’s something I thought I’d give a try, and so far, it’s been helpful. When I approach a role, I now examine the dialogue from a standpoint of dubbing myself the writer. And I don’t mean this in any way as a form of saying you wrote something when you didn’t, (cause if you do that, you deserve to be slapped) this is just for dialogue learning/character mindset purposes. When I pretend that I created the words within the world of the script I am auditioning for or portraying, it comes easier to me. As people, aren’t we writing our own dialogue from moment to moment? This may not work for everyone, but it’s worth giving a try, especially if you are a writer.
Writers are amazing. Good writers are extraordinary. They create worlds that are woven by carefully thought out descriptions and smart dialogue. There is a story to tell, and our jobs as actors, filmmakers, etc., are to bring those stories to life through a visual medium. If I read the line: “Dan, stop sniffing glue and help me fix this”, I must figure out why I, as the writer, chose those words for the character. Why those words? Then I say it until it feels true to me. I do what I can to understand why the writer did in fact choose the wording he or she did, and then I’d own it as the character. They are my words. They are your words. Connecting to the writers words, even pretending in your mind that they are your words (and as the character, they are) will help bring to life who the character is, and what the specific world they live in is really like.
In doing this, my brain begins to also help me form a believable character/human being. Each of us is unique and will bring something personal to each role we play. Writers will do the same with the worlds they create. It’s personal. Do your best to always respect the language they’ve chosen. If you take on the words as your own/the characters’, then why wouldn’t you have respect for it?
So the next time you’re struggling with becoming a character or learning big pieces of speech, just remember that in life we write our own dialogue every moment we choose to speak. So why not go into that audition room or onto that set as just another person writing their day each moment that sound leaves their mouth. Because unlike in a writers room, in life, there are no re-writes. So start writing.