Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome to my Blog!
I created it so that I could share acting tips with you; things I've learned over the years, working on set, teaching classes, coaching actors, auditioning actors, etc.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Indicating: "to point out or point to".

One of the most common problems for actors tends to be the temptation to indicate emotions. I see this even in experienced actors working on set, though not as often as I see it in less experienced actors.  There is only one way to convincingly act real emotion in film, and that is, to actually FEEL real emotion. It doesn’t matter what acting technique you use as long as it gets you there. The camera doesn’t let you get away with anything – especially faking emotions. Often times, actors know intellectually what a character should be feeling at a given moment so they try to convey that feeling. Unfortunately, since they are not actually feeling that emotion at the time, they end up indicating the desired emotion.
I’ve found that almost every time an actor indicates a feeling it’s because he’s not actually feeling the emotion--inside. When you really feel an emotion you never indicate or over-act. The trick is too feel real emotions on demand, take after take… after take… So how do you do that? Well, one simple yet incredibly effective way is to increase the obstacle.
If your character wants a divorce (your objective) and you decide that the obstacle (what's getting in the way ) is that if you divorce, you’ll have to get a job, you may find that the director says you are showing (indicating) too much sadness or stress. To fix it you don’t want to simply show less emotion—that will result in a flat, boring performance. Instead, increase the obstacle. You want the divorce but you still love him.
Now all you have to do is deal truthfully with that obstacle. You don’t need to “show” sadness or stress because you’ll actually be feeling torn apart on the inside. You will feel it more and, therefore “show” it less.
This is actually a very common problem in film and TV today. Directors (who often have very little training in acting--if any) will say something like “You're playing it too big, bring it down for the camera, it’s too stagey, too much emotion”. The actor will then take that to mean that he should feel less emotion in his work. The opposite is actually true and many directors I’ve worked with don’t really understand this. It’s ironic but when the director tells you it’s too big; that there’s “too much emotion”. He actually means there’s not enough emotion. It’s not being felt, it’s being indicated and a little indicated emotion is always too much. If you really feel the emotion it's rarely "too big for the camera". What makes actors like Robert DeNiro, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Daniel Day Lewis, and Al Pacino so brilliant is that they have huge obstacles. Think about James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause” or Al Pacino in “Dog Day Afternoon”. Now can you imagine a director telling Dean he’s got “too much emotion”, or telling Pacino he’s “too big for the camera”…? 


  1. my up and coming scene is missing this big time.. thanks for the reminder!

  2. Thank you very much for this. I have had no trouble displaying emotions on stage or on film---but at times I get agitated because I feel that it is being forced out of me. Now I know increasing the obstacles will help my characters emotions "flow out" instead. Thank you. : )

  3. well, I think Pacino DID go over the top in Scent of a Woman--HOO-RAH!

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