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Arts & Crafts


The Third Eye Works

Since I have made a start talking about my work
experiences, let me try and figure what partially
has made some of my roles into what they are
and how I worked them. To people who have a taste
of this craft I could  make sense.
In al its two-dimensional splendor and its sliced-into-pieces
structure Film as in movies needs light, energy and projection.

I’m sure you know there are hundreds of ways to
perform and how to get  there. My basic process
is the same and a bit different from most actors’.
As far as I know.

From interviews I have seen and and talks I had with
my colleagues. All humans basically have the same tools
that we work with. The one thing an actor works  with
most is the third eye. It is a vision through sense.
It watches from a different place and eyeballs all we
prefessionally do.

Now and always.
Keeping its distance.

Through this nerve I approach a project.
I play cat & mouse. I come from all over the place.
I toss and kick it around. Zeroing in.
Just three ingredients at the base.

The script, the director’s POV and concept, and my imagination.

Above all I need to find out how and what he reads in the script.
It remains a game of projections.
This is what the viewer gets.
I feel it is unfair to bring in much more.
Research is a good prep tool and will pay off in some details.
I re-read the script again and again.
It helps me to get its flow and melody.
Pace. Rhythm. Humour.
It feeds me with ideas which I check with the director.
I find out where the big moments may be.

Then I get a sense of what can/needs to be cut.
This is a very raw process.
Nasty. Vigorous. And not unlike, torture for all.
I like getting to the bone, inspect the meat that’s
left and then maybe add flavours or even some
rewriting.

Once photography reveals the look and the way
it is shot I get a feel for what the DOP is doing to
achieve the visual framework.

The thing is that being a film actor is such a big dance.
Film is movement.
A dance with the director’s vision.
The camera’s little eye.
The way the set and people are lit.
A dance with the camera’s moves.

I’m talking about craneshots, dolly moves, pans and
even zooms. Different shot sizes.
They all have their own value and laws.

I have an enormous affection for lighting.
In the hide-and-seek game with what  the camera
can and can’t see there is a great pleasure to be
found. Perfect light is too much.

Depending on what the film wants I love to not hit
the well-lit places completely right.
It is a flavour of not being too perfect.
Just as slurred words and flatter delivery of lines is.

Dances.

Finding a mark for the purpose of focus - meaning
a dot on the floor that  needs to be hit with the
actor’s foot so the focuspuller can keep you sharp –
is as much the actor’s profession as giving one extra
look or getting the lines out just right.

Dance.

I keep re-reading the screenplay each day .
Now filling it with what we shot and how we
did it.
And with the understanding of what we may
have missed that I hoped for.  Find out if there
might be another chance.
There always is.
I watch my colleagues closely.
Watch how strong their characters show up and
hold ground in the story. It is an important part in
adapting to the energy of their perfomances.

Curious and surprising to find out where they are
taking it.
It can change the context of the screenplay.

It is also the true nature of what the screenplay says
and what the film wants.
I have hardly ever seen a screenplay that would read
the same once brought to film.
The elimination process is tricky.

One example that comes to mind was ‘Bone Daddy’.
We were deep into the shoot, after having cut a lot
and adding some rewrites, we realized that the total
length of the film would be short. But TV networks
(HBO here) sometimes feel the film does need a certain
length.
The hard thing in suspense-driven stories is that
you can’t tell too much. It kills the suspense. It could
mean having to cut the film slower keeping more in
than needed. And slowing down the pace. Of course,
not telling enough is another disaster.
The producer had a fit. And gave us an extra day.

We added/shot a new written scene adding two/three
minutes to the film.

The scene was quite good. But could not solve
this problem. It was an overlooked factor.
He ended up not having enough material for the
editor to work with. It’s a part of the thing called
timing.

Another brief and extreme example was on
‘The Hitcher’. I had cut hardly anything and really
changed just three words in the whole screenplay.
In different scenes.
God was that written tight.
I put two of these changes back while shooting.
Better the way it had been written.
Unbelievable to discover that  was possible as well.

The re-reading I do until the shoot ends.
Or until I feel I have got it.

So I strip the unnecessary and  combine, shorten , condense and intensify what I think could happen.

Now there can be magic.
This craft is also the garden where it hides.
Those big moments.
The most exciting part.
I hold them loosely where they are.
I prepare and follow up.

What they are or will be is quite unclear to me.
They are revealed at a certain moment.

I can’t make them happen.
Don’t want to.

As long as the preparing work is done right these moments arrive, and almost shaping/creating themselves.

They belong to another entity.

They create delight.
My heart is in the music and the dance more than any result.

Sometimes being part of its voice and joy.

Rutger

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