Acting: A Personal Expression – or Collaboration, Serving an Audience?
Guest article by New York Film Academy Staff
The performing arts – acting, dance, music – like all art forms are subjective in their definition. It’s hard to describe what art is in any context, and for actors on stage and film there may never be a single standard of what is good or great.
But we can look at some standard definitions of art to begin to understand what constitutes great acting. Thespis of Icaria in ancient Greece – from whom comes the word thespian – is regarded to be the first actor. Before him, a chorus was engaged to tell the story on stage, but in one performance Thespis stepped out of the group to speak alone. From that moment, skills in vocal projection, physical expression and an emotional facility, born of imagination, came to define the actor.
Audiences clearly have approved, all these thousands of years later. Entertainment by way of the performing arts is one of the world’s largest industries, a melding of art and commerce that has no commercial equal. Because of this commercial driver in entertainment, anyone pursuing a career in any role within the theatrical arts – not just actors but directors, editors, costume designers, makeup artists (roll the credits – the list is extensive) – has to keep in mind both the art and the commercial components of the whole package. Without an audience, the art is of lesser [monetary] value.
Glenn Kalison, chair of the Acting Department at the New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) Acting School, speaks about this as the “actor’s dilemma.” He discusses the comprehensive art of storytelling through film as necessarily a collaboration of many players: “Storytelling, such as that involved in filmmaking, involves trust that many independently moving parts are being guided to a common end that serves a story.”
By this, Kalison explains how the actor is taught to access his or her own emotions in order to play a character. But the actor must necessarily communicate something to an audience. He tells students, “What you feel and what others see are two very different things. This is often a confusing point for beginning actors who insist that they felt the appropriate emotion response for a given scene – but we didn’t see it!” Only when that trust in the other “moving parts” – production designers, cinematographers, audio engineers, gaffers, grips, screenwriters and of course, directors – influences the actor’s performance is the storytelling successful. “Good actors know the difference,” he notes.
Put another way, the character in a moving soliloquy (think Hamlet, Macbeth or Daisy Buchanan in “The Great Gatsby”) may appear to be completely alone in the world. But there are at least 100 other people involved in making that scene happen, putting it in front of an audience and truly making it work. It’s always collaboration – as Thespis, who really was part of a chorus, may have known all along.
NYFA has campuses and courses in New York, Orlando, Los Angeles, Beijing, Paris, Florence and Sydney, among other locations, as well as its film school online. Students can take individual workshops or enroll in one- and two-year Conservatory programs or Associates, Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs.
The annual International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) event for professionals involved with the creation, management and delivery of entertainment and news content worldwide, opens in Amsterdam, running till September 11. This year’s conference keynote delivered by will.i.am of band Black Eyed Peas, will be about creativity and technology, delivered in his ceremonial capacity as Intel’s Director of Creative Innovation. The conference presents the best of technology for all professionals engaged in the creation, management and delivery of entertainment and media content worldwide, including the latest 3D rigs, integrated cameras, streaming video services and cloud based production. There is once again expected to be IBC Connected World, an exhibit for anyone needing to understand the impact of wired and wireless broadband on the industry, and the IBC Production Village, a unique chance to experience first hand the latest digital imaging equipment in front of a fully-specced professional studio set.
There are expected to be free 2K, 4K and stereoscopic 3D demonstrations at the IBC Big Screen, and a
convention-wide invite to attend the IBC Awards, a gala event celebrating industry achievement. The IBC Production Village is fashioned after a professional standard studio set with a host of the latest technology to explore, including: sinaCam Camera Head HDC-1-CAM, 3D Rig, Digital Film Camera, 16mm, GY-HM790E Camera and GY-HM600E Camera, Canon XF305 and Canon EOS 5D MkIII, more. The Future Zone provides a glimpse into the future of tomorrow’s electronic media with a collection of concepts and prototypes that exist only in the world’s leading broadcast research and development labs, or as academic papers, until they are demonstrated at IBC.
Founded in 1976, and highly regarded and anticipated with a reputation and ability to generate “Oscar-buzz”, the Toronto International Film Festival opens the Thursday night after Labour Day (the first Monday in September in Canada), lasting for eleven days, or September 16. The Oprah Winfrey produced ‘Precious’, which won the 2009 People’s Choice Award at the festival, went on to win two Oscars at the 82nd Academy Awards while The ‘King’s Speech’, the winner of the 2010 People’s Choice Award at the festival won four Oscars at the 83rd Academy Awards. In 2010 TIFF opened a new headquarters at the intersection of King Street and John Street, in a facility called the Bell Lightbox. The facility provides extensive year-round galleries, cinemas, archives and activities for cinephiles. New this year, the Festival is partnering with the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs to offer extended Q&As of five films where the film’s director will be joined by a subject/regional expert relevant to the film. Filmmakers of Mumbai is this year’s featured city. And the Festival brings in a NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) jury to award the best Asian film of a first or second-time feature director.
The Americana Music Conference in Nashville features panels, seminars and other avenues of learning, presenting an educational music industry forum. The event covers the interests and needs of artists, managers, labels, radio stations, publishers, agents, promoters, retailers, legal and business affairs executives, merchandisers and new media professionals. At this time, the awards show is sold out. The purchase of a conference registration will place you on a waiting list for one ticket to the Americana Honors and Awards show. The show does not guarantee anyone a ticket. Badges will, however, provide access to all sanctioned daytime conference music, panels and parties, plus priority access to all evening showcase performances. Americana is music that honors and is derived from the traditions of American roots music. It is music inspired by American culture traditions which is not only represented in classic man made, roots based sounds, but also through new and contemporary artists whose music is clearly inspired by these great traditions. The event patron — The Americana Music Association — is a professional trade organization whose mission is to provide a forum for the advocacy of Americana music and to promote public awareness of the genre. Pre-conference reception opening, “A Taste of Australia”, at the Bluebird Cafe on September 11 and closing event Stagemothers presents The Aussie BBQ, September 16.
In its fifth year, with 12 film categories and a £10,000 production award, Limelight is paving the way in identifying emerging British film makers. The East London event is an extension of Limelight Film Awards, which is the annual red carpet short film awards ceremony. The Film Night on September 16 will see previously nominated short films from the Limelight Film Awards, with an introduction by the film makers. There will also be a short talk and Q&A with an industry specialist and a performance from emerging Artists. This month’s networking session will see celebrated Thriller Films shown, as well as a performance from an upcoming talent and a speech from an industry expert. Attending is free, but advance RSVP is essential by emailing to: email@example.com. Entry will be available on the door subject to the event not reaching capacity and you are advised to pre book. The event will be closed with a 30 minute networking session whilst the DJ spins the records for the after party.
Happening during IFP’s annual Independent Film Week, September 16-20 in New York City, the IFP Independent Filmmaker Conference brings the international film community together to explore the art and business of 21st century storytelling, and introduce new voices on the independent scene. The Filmmaker Conference consists of a variety of small group and networking activities, hands-on workshops, keynotes with innovators including producer Christine Vachon and Focus Features’ James Schamus, ARTE’s Michel Reilhac, and Ford Foundations’ Orlando Bagwell, pitch workshops, and in-depth creative master classes. New series, Meet The Decision Makers are short, small group conversations with leaders who can help with industry advancement for films, programmers, funders, industry, and more. Also during Independent Film Week, IFP presents Project Forum — a forum for the discovery of new projects in development and new voices on the independent film scene. Project Forum consists of the Emerging Narrative (screenplays from emerging writer/directors), No Borders International Co-Production Market (screenplays represented by established producers with some financing in place), Independent Filmmaker Labs (documentary and narrative features in post-production), and Spotlight on Documentaries (documentary feature works-in-progress) programs. Additionally, Festival Forum program will assemble a gathering of international and U.S. film festival programmers.
The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF), September 19-23, is a large scale event of its kind in North America attracting attendees from around the world. The competition screenings are the highlight of the Festival featuring the latest independent short films, commercials, TV shows, student films, music videos, feature films and more. The OIAF’s signature AniMarket is a weekend tradeshow showcasing selections in animation technology, production and education. This year there will be two specialized programs devoted to pitching: Pitch THIS! and Fast Track. As a tribute, the OIAF is devoting five programmes to animation legend, Ralph Bakshi’s work along with a one-on-one discussion. Along with a screening of rare short films, the Bakshi retrospective will include screenings of Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, Coonskin, and Wizards.
On September 23 there will be a behind-the-scenes talk on Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Paperman and the Making-of Pixar’s Partysaurus RexScreening. Each year the Ottawa International Animation Festival commissions an artist to design the Festival poster. The Festival grants the artist free reign and encourages the design of unique and provocative works of art. Japanese animator, Koji Yamamura, currently on the board of directors of the Japanese branch of the International Animated Film Association (ASIFA), designed the poster for Ottawa 2012. Accomplished animator, producer, director and voice actor Butch Hartman will be giving a keynote address at TAC. Hartman is best known as the creator and executive producer of three successful animated series featured on Nickelodeon. The Festival has ample social event dates to attend and network at. For instance, there will be The Animator’s Picnic with the famous pumpkin carving contest in Strathcona Park, and wrapping up the festival is the closing cocktail party.
POP Montreal is now entering its tenth year offering up a diversified selection of art forms and events, symposium discussions, artisan and visual art exhibitions, fashion shows, ﬁlm screenings, and more than a few all-night parties. Aside from musical headliners this year POP will include a series of free shows from September 19-21 headlining Dam-Funk, Hot Snakes and Austra, and SiriusXM will present a free show on September 19 at La Tulipe featuring Montreal indie darlings STARS and Toronto new wave diva Diamond Rings at Mission Santa Cruz. At the POP Symposium, longtime collaborators Jeannette Lee and Vivien Goldman, members of the UK’s punk-underground, where Jeannette worked at the early epicentre Acme Attractions and Vivien sang in the band The Flying Lizards, are today respectively co-owner of Rough Trade Records and Adjunct Professor at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute.
The Festival will have six activities areas: Puces Pop, Pop Symposium, Film Pop, Art Pop, Kids Pop, Espace Pop. Film POP will screen, Nightclubbing: New York Punk and New Wave 1975-1980, a restored collection of raw and unique videotapes taken in the late 1970′s during the New York punk scene. Art POP will exhibit works by Grammy-Award winning album artwork designer Caroline Robert (2011, Best Recording Package) and album art direction as well as longtime collaborator of Arcade Fire, Vincent Morisset. Puces POP will host a craft fair September 22-23, displaying woodcraft, jewelry, ceramics, coma food, and the anticipated Record Fair which will have second-hand vinyl from Montreal’s finest indie record labels and collectors. Espace POP, a non-profit community event space in the Mile-End neighbourhood of Montreal, will be the site for the Fashion POP competition. Kids POP will schedule events this year in Little Italy and Mile-End, September 22-23, including Kids Yoga, Kids clothing swap and a Monster T-Shirt Workshop.
CINEC, the International Trade Fair for Cine Equipment and Technology is a Munich trade show addressed to anyone who is engaged in the field of the moving image and displays and features new developments in camera technology, camera support / grip, lighting, sound, postproduction, Stereo 3D, archiving, data management, equipment, accessories as well as production-related services. The exhibits area of the convention, opening September 22 and running three days, will display innovations in Film, Camera Technology, Camera support/Grip, Lighting, Sound, Set decoration, Equipment/Accessories, Technical Aids, Stereo 3D, Postproduction and Digital Editing, Services, and Organisations. There will also be a product forum with presentations by different exhibitors, and a special presentation by cineCongress on “The Future of Cinematography” that will address current issues and questions. One highlight of CINEC is the cinecAwards. The awards are presented by the Society of CineTechnik Bayern e.V. (CTB, formerly Bavarian Society for the Advancement of Film Technology), and awarded to innovative and trendsetting products and developments of the Motion Picture Technology. The award itself comprises a certificate and a statue which is inspired by the Munich symbol “Bavaria”.
Bass guitarist of Cochin-Kerala, India, Jayen Varma (www.facebook.com/indianslapbass), an innovator of Indian Slap Bass and a member of band Khayal Groove, will be conducting Bass Guitar workshops in September and October at the Jayen Varma Bass Guitar School (http://www.facebook.com/BassGuitarSchool) in Cochin, Pune, Mumbai and other districts. Sessions will cover: How to do finger picking (rest stroke, free stroke, three and four finger picking two), how to play slap bass, how to play odd timings, how to play bass for songs and in bands, commonly used Scales, Ragas, Grooves etc. He will be part of the September 27 TEDxMEC event — operated under license from TED — where TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. Band KHAYAL GROOVE led by north Indian classical vocalist Aparna Panshikar, and digital recording and workshop collaborations with Toulouse, France based drummer Jean Davoisine (firstname.lastname@example.org). The group is now in post production of the first album of works reflecting the East crosses West freedom of improvisation within the discipline and structure of a routine of rhythm and melodic features of Raga.
The above events are only a sample of what is fully listed.
Complete details are on the “Media, Entertainment and Performing Arts Industry News and Events” page at: http://www.actorschecklist.com/news.html which now has a language translation button to convert page contents into most widely used international languages. A special guest article sidebar from New York Film Academy weighs in on the acting craft. This month’s photo composite shows R&B, soul, jazz saxophonist eZra Brown on tour with his band in Japan. Photo credits to CrewActive for action shots and Nooka for the calendar poster. Looking ahead into the next month, be aware that… the Digital Music Forum West will be in Los Angeles, Hamptons International Film Festival, will be in East Hampton, the Tyrolean Independent Film Festival will be in Innsbruck, Hollywood Film Festival will be in Beverly Hills, MIA Animation Conference and Festival will be in Miami, and Casual Connect 2012: Kylv will be in Kylv, Streaming Media West comes to Los Angeles.