Post-production continues on Distracted – sound design and refining the visual aesthetic. It’s a big job and we are progressing nicely with it. As we head toward completion, I begin to reflect on the past year, producing Distracted, and have decided to formulate my thoughts into a series of posts. Here is the first of them….
During the editing process for Distracted, I have been deeply moved by the honesty of the actors’ performances in the film. By that I mean the actors worked without vanity or self-regard. They focussed solely on helping to make the film as strong as possible by investing in it their considerable skills and talents, their personalities and their experiences. It’s this honesty that so moves me because it demonstrates great courage, which, in turn, inspires me to protect the actors and their performances.
Actors are uniquely vulnerable. Right or wrong, actors are adventurers, they are idealists, they are dreamers and they are romantics. They crave the intensity of the moment, and they gorge on the full spectrum of experience life has to offer. They strive to keep as many aspects of their personality alive as possible, whereas most people try to shut down as much of themselves as they can in order to make life simpler and less painful. Further, the actor’s work requires them to lower their barriers – the barriers we erect to protect ourselves – it requires them to drop the carefully composed masks we wear to help us negotiate our way in the world. This combination of yearning for meaningful experience and reduction of barriers means the actor is wide open to exploitation and bullying.
’So what?’ you might ask. ‘Nobody asked them to be actors – if they can’t take the heat then they should get out of the kitchen.’ And that’s not a wholly unreasonable stance to take.
And yet, think back to all the wonderful performances you’ve seen; the ones that entertained you, delighted you, thrilled you, compelled you and frightened you. Some of them may even have had an effect powerful enough to influence the way you behaved. Such performances are affecting because they are true, that is – the actor reveals the truth of his or her own personality, as opposed to offering a construct or a portrayal. If we want to continue to see actors with the courage to step forward and tell the truth, to create indelible moments of cinema, then we must send the message that their dignity will not be ravaged in the process, but quite the contrary in fact, it will be exalted.