Work one-on-one with Ben Hopkin

Private Sessions

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Commitment, Revisited

Yeah, yeah.  I get it.  I talk too much.

But at least I commit, right?

This week we're taking another go-round with the final "C", commitment.  There's a reason for that.  I'm going to blame it on the half-hour format.  Some might blame it on the fact that I spend way too much time yapping.  I prefer to refer to myself as someone who is very detail-oriented.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, you clearly missed my radio show last Thursday where I managed to spend the entire time answering a question from the stream as well as one from a caller.  Hopefully it was useful information for everyone, but I'm not going to try to claim that it had anything to do with the topic.

I will say, though, that that's kinda how I roll.  I give more weight to a real person asking a real question than I do to the topic that I chose.  It does mean, however, that if you tuned in specifically to hear about commitment, you didn't get much of it.

So, we will talk more about it this week.  Probably.  I'm not making any hard-and-fast promises, because if someone calls in and wants to talk about agencies, marketing, some specific acting discipline or whatever... I'm most likely gonna answer their question before I do anything else.

There is a solution to this.  If you want to hear about commitment, call and ask me about it.  I LOVE to hear from you guys.  It totally makes my night/week/month, so don't hesitate!  I don't bite unless asked, and I'm pretty sure the rest of my listeners don't either.  Remember:  shyness is just reverse judgment, and none of us want to be judgmental, right?  :)  So, tune in this Thursday at 8 pm Pacific right here and call in at (424) 243-9619.  At which point, we'll talk about whatever you want to talk about. :)

If you've been under a rock or just started following me on Twitter or reading this blog, just wanted to let you know of the amazing reduced prices for my online acting classes--$50 per month for once-a-week classes and $90 per month for twice-a-week classes.  You can't find better than that anywhere, and the online classes are super convenient and perfectly suited to learn on-camera technique.  You can sign up at the top of my blog.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Final "C"--Commitment

This is the one that sets apart the pros from the amateurs.  If you can master this one, the audience will definitely sit up and take notice.  They may love you, they may hate you, but they will NEVER ignore you.

I'm not talking about committing to being a working actor, or committing to training, or committing to follow through with what you say you're going to do.  That is all good, and all really important, but it's not what really what we're discussing right now.

What we're talking about is making an acting choice and then going ALL IN!!!  Acting is not a time for us to be wishy-washy about our choices, nor is it a time to hesitate.  Let's learn to make strong (meaning not necessarily expected), active and specific choices.  We talked about that last week with the actions, right?  Powerful active verbs'll do it for us.

Once we've done that, we need to step into those choices 100%.  Don't "punch" a little.  "Punch" all the way.  That doesn't mean the choice has to be physically huge.  It just means we need to really embrace the playing of that verb.  We don't like to do this.  It makes us feel vulnerable and exposed.  Guess what?  That's a good thing.  No, actually it's an excellent thing!

So, come join me this Thursday at 8 pm Pacific Standard Time for my blogtalkradio show.  We'll be talking about this subject more in detail then.  While you're there, follow my blogtalkradio page and leave a comment for me so I don't feel lonely!

Also, for those of you that haven't heard, I am offering my online acting classes starting at a measly $50 a month!  So, what I'm saying is that location and money are now no longer an excuse for not getting top-notch training.  You can join by going to the top of the page here, or you can email me with more questions at actingwithoutthedrama (at) gmail (dot) com.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Second "C" part 2

So, for the first installment talking about communication as the second "C" of acting, I talked (apparently a LOT) about conflict and objective.  Good stuff.  Conflict engages your audience.  Objective places you firmly in the scene.

Now we're going to address internal obstacles and actions.

Every time we want something, we typically have some fear that works in direct opposition to our objective.  If my objective is to convince the woman that I love not to leave me, my internal obstacle may be that I'm afraid that I may not be good enough for her.

The internal obstacle does several things for us.  It humanizes us, first and foremost.  As far as I've been able to observe, doubt is what separates us from our beastly brethern.  My dog may not want to get caught stealing food from the table, but he doesn't doubt that he should have it if he can manage to obtain it. 

An internal obstacle also gives us dimension.  If I'm 100% sure of what I'm doing, that's kind of boring.  There needs to be that interplay between what we want and what we're afraid of. 

Finally, it gives us something to play when the other person is talking.  While they're talking we really can't pursue our objective.  But we can play our internal obstacle.  While the woman that I love is detailing all of the reasons that she should leave, I'm listening with my fears firmly in place.  I'm hearing everything she says through the filter of "I'm not good enough for her."

So, conflict draws the audience in, objective grounds us in the reality of the scene and internal obstacle humanizes us.  Should be enough, right?


Now we have to be interesting.  And that's where actions come in.  Actions are active verbs that we can do to the other person in support of our objective.  In other words, I may "punch" or "caress" or "tickle" the woman that I love with my words in order to convince her not to leave me.  These actions allow our acting to be specific, active and intensely personal.  The way I "pierce" or "seduce" will be dramatically different from the way someone else does it.

For more detail on these subjects, please join in with me this Thursday at 8 pm Pacific Standard Time, where I'll be discussing this more in depth while live on my show.  Questions about any of this?  Leave a question here in the comments (or in the comments on my blogtalkradio page), @ or DM me on the stream, or email me at actingwithoutthedrama (at) gmail (dot) com.  Oooo... one final option:  call in to the show to have your question answered LIVE!  I love to have callers, so don't be shy.  The number is (424) 243-9619.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Second "C"

Well, there is one thing that I think we can probably all agree on.  I talk too much.  *sigh*

My radio show was back this last week, and my plan was to talk about the three C's of acting, as well as possibly starting the conversation about conflict and objectives.

The best laid plans of mice and men, right?

I got as far as the first "C"--connection.  Now, in my defense, this is probably the most important and also least taught concept in acting, at least as far as my experience goes.  I've talked a lot about why I think this is, and if you're curious and missed last week's radio show, go listen to it here.

The second "C"--communication--is where we typically spend most of our time when training as actors.  Even in my classes, where the 1st "C" is given so much emphasis, most of the training surrounds this idea of communication.  The reason why is that with connection, we're either doing it or we're not.  We generally can tell whether or not we're connected to our partner with just a little bit of coaching.

With communication, we're delving deep into the craft or technique behind skillful acting.  True, connection typically takes care of most of our communication problems, but we're never 100% connected.  We need technique to smooth over the gaps.  We may get to the point where we're 99% connected, but that 1% of technique is still hugely important to make our performances grounded and stable.

During this week's (and possibly next week's... let's be honest) show, we will go more into depth about what's required of us in order to communicate with our partners and the audience.  As a brief spoiler, we need to be clear, active and specific.  I'll explain what that means this Thursday at 8 pm PST.  You can follow my radio show and set a reminder for the show by going here.  Please do, as it costs you nothing, but does quite a bit for me.  I would be sooooo grateful.  :)  Also, while you're at it, follow this blog if you don't already.

One final thing-- I have revamped the format of my online acting classes to make them more affordable.  You asked.  I listened.  You can now benefit from my expertise starting at $50 a month for my once a week classes.  That's one of the best deals out there (I've checked!) so take advantage while it's here!  If you want more info, email me at actingwithoutthedrama (at) gmail (dot) com.  Otherwise, sign up at the top of my blog here.

Have questions you want to ask me?  You can always @ or DM me on my Twitter stream, but I would LOVE to get comments on my blog here, so please leave your questions here!