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Visiting movie set encourages this writer to ‘act’

From A to Zowie

Visiting movie set encourages this writer to ‘act’

By Richard Zowie

(Published in the June 9, 2010 issue of the Clio, Michigan-based Mt. Morris/Clio Birch Run/Bridgeport Herald)

Back in the 1990-1991 school year, I was a senior at A.C. Jones High School in Beeville, Texas. Needing an extra elective, I chose to take a theater arts class.

After a week, I kept asking myself why I waited until my senior year to take this class.

What fun it was to get up and act out skits, scenes from plays and even minor class productions! In one skit, myself and three other guys played police officers breaking up a drug deal. Then, my friend Francis and I acted out a scene from Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs. Then there was the mock news broadcast and, at the end of the year, I even had the privilege of acting in two plays: Dr. Frankenstein’s Space Operation (as Bruce, the wisecracking astronaut) and as the head alien on the planet Meanus, a planet—mistaken for Venus—where nobody ever jokes or smiles. I enjoyed acting immensely and made a note to myself to try to get into it again someday.

I was again reminded of this on June 3 when I went to rural Vienna Township to get pictures of Brothers War Normandy, a movie being filmed there and to talk to the director and cast members. They did take after take from various camera angles, posed in character for movie stills and relaxed and chatted between takes.

It made me think of how I need to rework my free time and see if I can find local productions to become involved in.

No, I have no interest in becoming a multi-million-dollar “A-lister”, and winning an Academy Award doesn’t really interest me. What does interest me is getting on stage and trying to convince the crowd I’m somebody I’m really not. For me, there’s something exciting about getting up on a stage (crowds don’t scare me) and being part of a live story to be told.

Who knows, maybe I could even moonlight as a character actor. Being around 5’8” with coke-bottle glasses and a Karl Malden honker of a nose, I could probably get work whenever a director says, “I want Rick Moranis but I can’t afford Rick Moranis! Get me somebody who LOOKS like Rick Moranis!”

When it comes to acting, I’ve had the privilege over the years of chatting online with a few actors. Among them Adam Vernier (who guest starred on Dharma and Greg and was a finalist to play Danny Torrance in the 1980 Stanley Kubrick horror film The Shining) and Gary Kent (who’s also directed, produced, written screenplays, worked as a stunt man and who has worked with notables like Bruce Willis and Jack Nicholson and James Caan).

Vernier and Kent’s collective advice can be summed up this way:

One: Acting is extremely competitive. If fame and fortune are your motivation for getting into acting, don’t even bother.

Two: Find out where acting classes are being offered in your area (or near your area) and sign up. Study and learn.

Three: Get involved in local productions.

Four: Be very careful when turning down work. If you’re reluctant about a character you play, just remember what acting is at its core: being a “faker” as you pretend to be somebody you aren’t.

Five: Be professional on and off the set. Actors who develop reputations as being difficult to work with will have a tougher time finding work.

Richard Zowie’s a reporter and columnist for the Herald. Visit his blog at http://www.fromatozowie.wordpress.com or e-mail him at richardzowie@gmail.com.

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