Michael MertonHANDS C100dpiYou often hear people talk about the “craft” of acting and of various acting “techniques” and declare that one is a superior actor if they have mastered one or the other. It seems to me that mastering the craft of acting will make one a craftsman, and mastering technique will make one a technician. Sounds a bit clinical, doesn’t it?

The reason that very young child actors are often so terrific is that they are completely focused on imagining what it would be like to find themselves in the situation of the story, and on feeling those feelings. They don’t even realize that they’re focusing! They’re just pretending, and following the natural instincts of play. Their minds are not yet cluttered with years of often-conflicting craft and technique – when children act, it’s all coming from the heart.

I think as adult actors we need to constantly remind ourselves to reprioritize. Sure, we have to hit the marks on the floor and not move our heads too much on an over-the-shoulder shot and be aware of our blinking during a close-up… but what is going on in our hearts should always remain the first priority. If we aren’t feeling anything true then we have given a wonderfully clinical performance, like good little technicians.

You know that feeling when you’ve played a scene and gotten so wrapped up in the moment that it felt real to you? It’s exciting and electric, and deeply satisfying. When was the last time you felt that way about hitting your mark? Follow your heart.

See you on the set,
Michael Merton

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