Saturday, August 22, 2009

What on earth are they thinking about?

I got another email today from a young man twenty years old who, without ever having been in so much as a school play, has decided he wants to become an actor. I cannot help becoming a little frustrated with such people. They certainly don't think they could become a surgeon without studying medicine and getting some expereince as an intern. You cannot even become a 7-11 clerk without instruction on how to do it. I think they expect me to be able to give them instruction on how to become an actor in one simple email and magically they will be on TV, the hero of all their friends. Such people are much the same as the teeny bopper of 13 or 14 who writes me and declares that they just have to become an actress, that they have wanted to do so for years and years, and that they know they are very talented. Of course they have no acting expereince either and are living in some Cloudcuckooland of reverie in which they are great stars with throngs of adoring fans. In a way you cannot blame the youngsters as they have been seduced by the TV and cinema in to thinking that the wonderful things they see on the screen are really happening to the actors and that it would be so romantic and thrilling to have those things happen to them. Unfortuantely, what they see on the TV and cinema screens are not what is really happening to the actors. It is an illusion created by editing, sound and special effects. Film acting is really not at all glamorous and is quite tedious. The actors must get up before sunrise, be at costumes and make up by seven am and report to the set as soon as they can only to wait for hours while the crew gets everything ready. When that finally happens, the actors rehearse their scene, then they wait again while the camera and lighting adjustments are made, and then they do their scene for the camera, over and over again until the director is satisfied with the coverage and quality of the scene. Then the process is repeated until the end of the shooting day. I once had to wait for over two entire days before they got to my scene, and while I enjoyed talking with the stars and I got paid extra for each day, it emphasized the loneliness and tedium of being on location for a film. I am sure this is a great contributor to the wide spread substance abuse and infidelity among film actors. It takes a strong moral character to withstand such difficult situations, especially with so many temptations surrounding a person. Discretion and valour are certainly needed to withstand them. But the aspiring actor almost never thinks of the reality of the work, they only think of the fantasy of the glamour and adoration of their fans. Wake up people. Go outside and play or do some chores or go on a picnic and embrace the wonder of life as it really is.

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