Over the years I have been blessed to be a part of many films. As an actor, there are three descriptions that I like to use to distinguish the quality of my performances in each of them;
1. The Good
2. The Bad
3. The “What the Hell was I thinking?!” categories.
These three classes help me gauge where I am at, what needs work, and areas where I should take more risks in the future. I don’t take into consideration the production value, the script quality, or the fact that the director and editor get to choose the “take” that will make it to the final cut. I feel these factors are totally independent of my job and that I have no control over these choices anyway. I just suck it up and pray they are geniuses and cross my fingers and toes in hopes the outcome will be phenomenal!
Over the past ten years, well…maybe 4 of them were fully dedicated years of taking acting seriously, I have amassed plenty of The “What the Hell was I thinking?!” , a few of The “Bads” and if I’m lucky I might have squeezed out a “Good” performance for just “one” scene.
If I can watch a performance and forget that I am watching myself for a moment, I can classify it with the “The Good” tag.
Just bored, will never watch the film again, very uninspired, and didn’t take any risks. I walk away feeling like I’ve wasted a lot of peoples time. Producers, Directors etc. spend months or years working on preproduction planning. They put their time and sometimes there own money into these projects and I hate the feeling that they should have went with some one else.
The What the Hell was I thinking category
This is the category where I always end up with my head hovering a toilet, cursing the world, and questioning my choice of wanting to act for the next month or so. It usually takes a few beers, well…enough to impair my judgment anyway, just so I can get through the rest of the film.
Most actors understand that in order to achieve category 1, you will have to spend quite some time at category 3. In my opinion, The “What the Hell was I thinking” category is the most important one of all. When I first started acting, and even now, I always made mistakes, or made choices about a character that I thought was perfect and I didn’t question my direction at all. Yes, ultimately I did end up falling flat on my face, but I made a choice and stuck with it! I did what I believed to be correct and that was a great start. Mistakes like, pacing of lines, breaking character mid delivery, inflection, awkward mannerisms, etc. can all be corrected with time, more experience, coaching, lessons, but most importantly, watching these performances over and over and over again, like a football coach watches game film. I have learned and will continue to learn from this process. A “Good” performance will never give me much room to grow. I don’t gain a great deal from them; there for I feel like I’ve only had fleeting moments of “Good” performances. The “Bad” category is a waste. I can only blame myself for not studying harder, doing more research, not acting with any inhibitions or being afraid to step outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t do what I know need to be done.
A few years ago I had a lead role in a Martial Arts Film titled Zen Man. It was directed by Dr. Sang H. Kim. Many of you Martial Arts Buffs know him pretty well. Dr. Sang H. Kim is an internationally respected author of 13 martial arts books, including best sellers Ultimate Flexibility, Ultimate Fitness through Martial Arts, Combat Strategy and Teaching: the Way of the Master, and star of over 100 martial arts instructional DVDs and video downloads programs including Self-defense Encyclopedia, Knife-defense, Power Breathing, Junsado Training Series, and Complete Taekwondo Series and founder of the top martial arts distribution company Turtle Press. Zen Man was my first lead role and His first full length feature film. I have already gauged and categorized this film years ago, but recently he chose to re-release and re-edit it and posted it up on Youtube in its entirety. After watching it again I have to say my opinion on my performance and the film itself has changed. Below is the first portion of this film:
Feel free to watch the entire film and leave a comment, I'd love to read your thoughts :) .
Actors don’t be afraid to make mistakes as long as you can make some positives from those negatives. We will always be our harshest critics. Thank you so much for reading my thoughts and taking a few moments to be apart of my world. – Grady Justice.