french films

french films

Stephen Mitchell discusses Action/ReAction

4d ago
SOURCE  

Description

http://www.amazon.com/Action-ReAction-innovative-technique-history/dp/1477513051 After conducting a class in his Action/ReAction technique at the Stella Adler facility in Hollywood, Stephen summarizes aspects of the technique for the students. "I had a constant need for actors but found that seasoned actors with exceptional brand signatures were not so easy to find. A distributor told me he liked the story and direction of my first film shot in the U.S. but I needed to get better actors. Something had to be done. Ironically, the actors I had used in the film had all studied in workshops that were considered top notch. Clearly, not everyone who attends a great workshop comes away capable of giving a great performance but how does one improve on the best? I needed to get better results. In those early days, I had consulting clients whose professional lives I managed. I started by working with two women who made clothing, added a hairstylist and then an attorney before I found actors coming to me for help. I thought of it as career management but the light went on one day and I decided I would only take actors, writers and directors from that point on. Instead of charging them consulting fees, which could be expensive, I would consult for free with any members of what would become the world's only repertory company for film and television. Dues of twenty dollars a week replaced consulting fees that were considerably more expensive. The membership grew rapidly and we maintained a list of about a hundred actors along with a dozen writers and half a dozen directors. I patterned the rep company on the old Hollywood studio system which had various activities which included the development of actors. They taught actors to sing and dance and walk down stairs without looking at their feet and put on a coat without looking as though they were wrestling an octopus and, by the way, they were given acting lessons. Actors were branded and developed so as to make them attractive to audiences. When the studio wasn't using an actor, it loaned out the actor to other studios. The system created unparalleled opportunities for an actor to have a career. Actors in our rep company developed their acting brands by performing in taped one-act plays that the writers in the group had written specifically for them. We watched to see how well a writer could write for the actors as well as how well the actor could perform the piece. The feedback of seeing the performance on tape—as opposed to having a workshop instructor saying "Very good"--was quite effective. If you were to look at the first taped performance and compare it to the sixth tape done by an actor in the group, you would see a world of difference. The tapes were put on cable and served to market the actor to 'mainstream' Hollywood and you would be amazed at the names of the directors who responded to these performances. The actors were instructed in PR. Each actor began by learning how to present themselves as actors and how to speak about their performances in a way that made people want to find out more. Every taped performance was followed by a PR interview being mailed to film directors and producers, as these were the people to whom we marketed our actors when they weren't acting in films made within the group. Over the years, our members became more and more involved with mainstream Hollywood while fiercely maintaining our independence. For example, all of our writer/directors and a few of our actors became judges for the CableACE Awards. I judged for nine years until these awards were folded into the Emmys. The films we made were shot guerilla-style and this probably was owing to a combination of necessity and my fondness for the films of the French New Wave which broke from the studio tradition and shot films in the streets and actual locations. The quick tag line for my films was 'Thinking man's cop dramas' along the lines of the French films Shoot the Piano Player or Without Appa...