The Ardavany Approach for WMM: Step One

Step One: The Script From the Actor’s Perspective 

We must make the script real for us, experience it as a moment in time, connected to a purpose.

When we shoot film, one of the many things we do is break the script down into locations, which means whenever that location shows up in the film regardless of whether it takes place in the beginning, middle or end of the script we will shoot it in the time that that location has been secured.  This presents everybody with a particular type of challenge. Continuity is the art of recreating similar actions, both physically and emotionally so the film can be assembled seamlessly. Understanding where you are in all aspects in the script is critical to telling the story properly.
TomFILMNOIR#3 Given the nature of film, which is to shoot the story out of sequence, the understanding of  the character’s arc becomes extremely important to the actor and the director. The arc is  how the character changes throughout the script. There are many ways the character can  change: Emotionally, physically, instinctively sexually, spiritually, intellectually, to  mention a few. All of these changes must be taken into account as the film  progresses. Because of the specific nature of film we must have a way to break down the  script allowing us to know when these changes are taking place and where we are in time in relation to the script.

If time permits, reading and watching the script unfold in your minds eye twenty or thirty times will do the trick. The ideal time would be first thing in the morning and before you go to bed. Doing it over a ten day or twenty day period allows you to know where you are in every moment of the material. A side benefit is that you may begin to dream the part, which may allow the qualities of the character sink deeper and deeper into your own character. If time does not permit, which is more often the case, your only two allies will be the script in your hand and the director who hopefully has an opinion as to the subtleties of your characters emotional life in that moment in the script.

The script is all you really need. Self reliance is key to any great work, so don’t expect any real help. It’s on you and your interpretation of the script and your ability to put it into action and then to adapt to the direction given. If you have a script, go get it and look it over. What you will notice about all scripts is that there are three basic elements concerning the actor.

Grease-Signed_Movie_ScriptTransition direction: EXT. – HOUSE – DAY. These are your first clues to your interpretation of the action of the scene. The basic circumstances surrounding your character are location and time of day. They are the first clues as to how and why the action unfolds as it is written. The next thing that will usually follow will be the direction of the action of the characters. What they are specifically up to moment to moment. And the third thing would be the dialogue.

Dialogue – Words spoken are the result of all the moments leading up to the moment the word is spoken. A spoken word represents past needs (actions) and future wants (intentions), the word or words sit in between these two energies, the past and the future (needs and wants). Words are the result of these needs and wants. Words are supplied by the writer to be made present by the actor. Words are present reflectors of what is going on with us in any given moment.

The actor is the vehicle for the text. All acting rests with the actor supporting the text with his own personal needs and wants. An actor who is text reliant cannot act. Only an actor that is self reliant in the moment of action can act. With this understanding, there is no such thing as bad writing from the actor’s perspective, only poor interpretation and execution. Justifying the words is the actor’s responsibility. Knowing himself well enough to ignite his deepest needs and wants (passions) and carrying them through the text to his fellow actors, there-by full filling and supporting the illusion that the writer has written and the vision that the director is putting forth, this is the actors job.

Django_Unchained_Script 95% of the time words and phrases an actor is struggling with has to do not with the words  but his understanding of what created the words. Proper interpretation and choice allows  the text to be spoken as it was intended. If the actor’s needs and wants and understanding of  the relationship are correct in relation to the text, the words flow freely. To cut a line or to  change a line is only the actor and the director shucking their responsibility to discover what  the writer truly intended. The subtlety of any great story is dependent on the realization of  the text as written. Since they are not the actor’s words to start with the actor need only to  bring himself through the text to full fill his obligation to the story.

The “action” direction in a script – Are clues to the needs and wants necessary to justifying the text in a scene as well as any major movements of characters in a scene. These actions make reference to any type of specific action that has to be taken to move the scene ahead, which are equally as important as to what is being or not being said in any given moment. Usually an action direction written during a dialogue driven scene is representative of an energy shift in the scene. We call these shifts in the scene transitions. Transitions are not always reflected by the written action. They should be, but they can be missed if the writer or director is not aware of the significant opportunity of the transition.

The significance of the transition to a scene is dimension. The realization and execution of these transitions gives the scene dynamic. Dimension and dynamic are what gives a scene its life and depth. Transitions are the result of the ebb and flow of the actors’ needs and wants. When these needs and wants coincided with each other, a discovery or a realization in the scene occurs, prompting the writer to describe the result of the realized and discovered moment.

Avengers scriptIn a well-written script nothing is on the page that doesn’t absolutely have to be there. It is a blue print for the entire production and each word represents an element that will be captured on film to move the story ahead.

The shooting material that will be covered on any given day is printed out on a schedule, allowing you to plan your day. New pages are constantly given especially in television so be prepared to adapt.

The next step is actually breaking down the material and finding the major moments in the script.

IMG_0315 This original WMM article is brought you by WMMer,Thomas Ardavany.  
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