What can David Lynch teach you about making films?
The IFC Center in NYC is currently screening a remastered version of David Lynch’s Inland Empire, a 2006 experimental film written, directed and co-produced by David Lynch.
The film’s cinematography, editing, score and sound design were also by Lynch, with pieces by a variety of other musicians featured.
Released with the tagline “A Woman in Trouble”, the film follows the fragmented and nightmarish events surrounding a Hollywood actress (Dern) who begins to take on the personality of a character she plays in a supposedly cursed film production.
Inland Empire marked several firsts for Lynch: it was shot without a finished screenplay, instead being largely developed on a scene-by-scene basis.
Shot entirely in low-resolution digital video by Lynch himself using a handheld Sony camcorder rather than traditional film stock.
He basically grabbed a Sony PD150 (not the nicest camera out there) went and shot a movie and grossed over 4 million dollars at box office.
Now, this movie isn’t for everyone, and only die-hard Lynch fans tend to love it, but you can’t argue with the fact that one of the main reasons he was able to do it was because he had his own digital camera.
Have you found it difficult to find work during the pandemic? Are you scrolling through work pages waiting for the next opportunity to come along? Do you miss having the power to call your own shots?
Let’s talk about creating your own work.
Instead of waiting for opportunities to pass you by, why not pick up a camera and shoot something of your own? Get together with some friends and write a short film or a web series and get it on camera.
Creating your own work comes with many benefits… it gets your name out there, stretches your creative muscles, and gives you hands-on experience with equipment and working with other like-minded people in the field.
Maybe it’s time to step in front of the camera and try your hand at acting. If you have stage fright and want to stay behind the camera, try having a brainstorming session about new and creative ways to tell a story. There are plenty of ways to get involved in building your own creative career.
How can DFA help?
At Digital Film Academy, you are set up for success with everything you need to become your own production company.
We have an Associates Program that gives you equipment to own (yours forever, no joke), included in the tuition and that’s in addition to our lifetime access to equipment that you will gain through the school.
This allows you to create your own work, anytime, anywhere. We have multiple classes such as Directing, Cinematography, Screenwriting, Video Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Design, Producing, etc. Having a diverse curriculum gives you the opportunity to learn all facets of filmmaking making you more marketable and experienced.
Come learn more about how we can help you jumpstart your career, by joining our Online Open House.
Hopefully you’ve read Part One of ‘Actor’s Advice’ – and maybe it even helped you get an audition. Now, here are a few tips for nailing your audition once you’re in the door.
1. Go back and re-read the breakdown.
Wherever you applied, there must have been at least a basic description of the character. Chances are, though, you apply for multiple auditions each day and these descriptions blur together. So to avoid confusion – go back and re-read the break-down for the character! The words used to describe this person are key words for what you should convey in your audition. Read them over and over, and take them to heart.
2. If you get the sides in advance – know them!
If you’re doing a ‘cold read’ – seeing the pages for the first time – it’s one thing. If you’ve had the pages for days, it’s another.
Not only will studying in advance keep you from burying your face in the pages as you audition, which is bad for multiple reasons (the camera won’t get a good shot of your face if you’re being filmed, it’ll be harder to act natural, etc.), but it tells casting you come prepared. It’s good to keep your pages in hand, but really, they should practically be memorized.
To hammer this home, let me say there’s nothing more annoying than an actor who is clearly reading sides they got in advance for the first time. Recently, I was auditioning actresses for a short. An actress came in and she looked and sounded the part. I was already putting stars next to her name. Then, she read. She’d had her sides for two weeks – and couldn’t get through one line without stumbling. We had to start over FIVE times. This wouldn’t have happened if she’d prepared. Her name went from being starred to being crossed out.
Likewise, IF you screw up, keep going. You won’t be grudged one flubbed line if you’re truly right for the part – but flubbing EVERY line and having to start over will over-shadow any talent you might have.
3. Hit the basics.
There is a brief list of things to do when you first arrive to show you’re professional.
Being friendly when you come through the door is a must. If the character’s hostile, don’t come in brimming with hostility – save it for the audition. Introduce yourself first and foremost as a person who’s great to work with.
Also, if you have a REAL question about the part that will help your audition, don’t be afraid to ask. It shows you’re giving this thought. (But don’t pull a pretentious question out of thin air for no reason! Example: “Can you tell me any background for why the character feels so strongly about X?” FINE. “Is it safe to assume that the character’s feelings are strongly rooted in an existentialist training not mentioned here?” NO.)
Then, once things are really ready to roll, remember to do the following:
If it’s being taped, ask “How am I framed?” This gives everyone confidence you know their language and how to play to a camera. Also, knowing how you’re framed will help you figure out some basics: for example, how much should you be moving? If you’re in close-up, the answer is: not at all.
Next, make sure to slate. Slating means looking into the camera and saying your name before you start.
4. Take direction!
How well you take direction is often the deciding factor in whether you’ll be cast. Your first reading might have been great – but typically, you’ll be given a few notes and asked to do it again. This is either because the notes are genuine or because the powers that be want to see how well you adapt.
Feel free to ask questions when given notes. Brush up on improv or do whatever you have to to get good at applying notes quickly. One thing’s for sure – if an actor’s given notes, then proceeds to do the scene in the same exact way they did originally, their chances of success are drastically cut.
What other things do you do in auditions that you think are important? Please share in the comments below!
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