Sunday, August 28, 2005

Selling Yourself- Acting in a movie

I had an amazing, wonderful opportunity this weekend to be a small (very small) (Ok, miniscule)part of a movie. Those of you who have been to my website Fear Free Selling may know that I fly a motor glider called a trike. The movie script called for trike flying as part of a couple of scenes, and all I had to do was get a couple of fellow trike pilots to come down to a remote dirt airstrip and fly around and do what the director told us to do.

I'll fly my trike at any opportunity and was happy to accomodate. I later learned that the screenwriter wrote in a small, er miniscule, scene or two where I was to say a few lines with my back to the camera.

Now my wife, who is an actor by profession, does this all the time. I had never really been on a movie set except for a few moments to pick her up or drop her off. I had no idea what went on behind the scenes of making a movie. I had some idea of how hard the crews work, but to see it happening made me appreciate good movies even more.

When we see a movie scene with two actors engaged in a conversation, it is hard to image that there are dozens of people doing jobs behind the scenes, literally. I was surrounded by people holding boom mics, people running sound equipment and computers, lighting people, makeup artists, the director, assistant directors, continuity directors, script monitors, and a swarm of people around the cameraman doing all kinds of mysterious things.

Amidst all this activity, when the director says "Action" the actors have to create believeability and somehow pretend that none of these crew members are all looking at them and waiting for the magic to happen.

Like any good performance, whether in sports, teaching, sales, or acting, the professionals make it look easy. They make it seem effortless. They often do this so well that it is easy to believe that it it so easy that anyone could do it, even ourselves.

Actors are the consummate sales professionals. They have to sell themselves as believeable or it doesn't work. As my wife, the actor, points out, bad acting is when the actor is acting instead of being.

When it came my turn to say my lines, I fumbled and bumbled, and blanked out the few sentences I was supposed to say. The real actors, bless their hearts, helped me out, fed me my lines and tried to give me a crash course in acting.

After many many "takes" we got through the scenes. It seemed to take over an hour to get 1 minute of useable film. I watched other scenes all day long. These folks started at 4:00AM after driving several hours to get to the set. They didn't finish shooting until nearly 5:00PM. It was 117 degrees that day.

I suspect they will have to use a real actor to loop in my lines. Fortunately for them, my back was to the camera the whole time I spoke my lines (I was acting, not being).

Some top sales professionals I know have taken acting classes. I believe the good ones learn not how to act, but how to just be. They learn how to tap into their inner resources and make it look easy. We don't often see all the hard work that goes into their performances. Maybe that is the point. They practice and rehearse and eventually they become the part they have chosen to play.

When my wife and I go the the movies, we always stay in our seats and watch all of the credits roll by. We find it annoying when people jump up and almost run out the exits as soon as the credits roll. Where are they going in such a rush? Often there is great music to listen to, and many times there are additional scenes. We have been richly rewarded by staying until the screen goes blank.

I have a new found respect for those good actors who make us believe. I also have a new found respect for all those people who are behind the scenes. I urge you to start staying through the credits and giving the crew the respect they deserve.


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