What Stops An Actor From Getting Into Character? by Mark W. Travis
Film Courage: Mark let’s talk about the interrogation. Let’s talk about the beginnings of it. How you began to use it with an actor? How you came up with the idea?
Mark W. Travis: The interrogation process that I use with actors is not something I “came up with.” It is something I literally discovered during a very long process. I’ve been working as a director for 30, 40 years (something like that). I lose track of how many years! And it’s one of those things where I look back over my career and I realize what I’ve been doing. I didn’t realize this until maybe 10 years ago what I’ve been doing. I’ve been constantly in a process of experimentation and directing, experimentation working with actors, experimentation that has at the core, is a very simple question. There must be a better way to do this. There’s got to be another way. There are a lot of great ways of doing this.
Now when you think about what we’re doing (which is what we’ve talked about before) we’re all storytellers. Directors, writers and actors are all storytellers and our goal (as I see it) is to tell stories as honestly, truthfully, openly and authentically as possible.
And at the center of these stories are characters, so we want characters to be honest, truthful and authentic characters. Not that the character is always telling the truth (I don’t mean that) but we’re presenting the character as honestly as we can. Through the years, going way back (I’m going back to Stanislavski, which is the early 1900’s, he caused a great shift in this process of acting which you probably know about from “presentational acting.” There was a book I had once which I wish I could find (I think I lost it). It was actually a book that was written in the (I think) late 1800’s for actors showing all of the positions that an actor could hold to portray or relate an emotion to the audience and if you look at the early films. The films (the ones before sound) you can see this meant [exhibits body language of a person in distress] and this look [exhibits body language of a person in surprise]. And this book was a wonderful book because it showed all these [ways] of this is how you do this. This is how you act. This is how you portray this. So that’s presentational acting and what Stanislavski was doing in the early 1900’s, he asked a very simple question (profound question). He was struggling with the fact that in the Moscow Art Theatre they’d give a performance or he’d give a performance or the actors he’s working with would give there performance and it would be powerful and the next night…it wouldn’t be. There was no consistency. Sometimes it would …(Watch the video on Youtube here).
Watch the video interview on Youtube here
CONNECT WITH MARK W. TRAVIS
MARK W. TRAVIS is regarded by Hollywood and independent film professionals internationally as the world’s leading teacher and consultant on the art and craft of film directing. He is known as “the director’s director.”
Fueled by the desire to generate organic and authentic performances in an instant, Mark developed his revolutionary Travis Technique™ over a span of 40 years. Not limited to filmmakers, The Travis Technique™ has proven to be an essential set of tools for all storytellers, writers, directors and actors.
Mark Travis has taught at many internationally acclaimed film schools and institutions, including Pixar University, American Film Institute, UCLA Film School, FAS Screen Training Ireland, NISS – Nordisk Institutt for Scene og Studio (Norway), Odessa International Film Festival (Ukraine), CILECT – The International Association of Film and Television Schools, and the Asia Pacific Screen Lab (hosted by Griffith University Film School, Brisbane, Australia).
Productions directed by Mark W. Travis have garnered over 30 major awards, including: an Emmy, Drama-Logue, L.A. Weekly, Drama Critics’ Circle, A.D.A, and Ovation awards.
His film and television directing credits include: The Facts of Life, Family Ties, Capitol, Hillers, and the Emmy Award-winning PBS dramatic special, Blind Tom: The Thomas Bethune Story. Also the feature films Going Under (for Warner Bros. starring Bill Pullman and Ned Beatty), Earlet (documentary), The Baritones, and The 636.
On-stage, over the past 20 years, Mark has directed over 60 theatre productions in Los Angeles and New York, including: A Bronx Tale, Verdigris, The Lion in Winter, Mornings At Seven, Equus, Café 50s, And A Nightingale Sang, Wings, Linke vs. Redfield, The Coming of Stork and others.
Mark is the author of the Number-One Best Seller (L.A. Times), THE DIRECTOR’S JOURNEY: the Creative Collaboration between Directors, Writers and Actors. His second book on directing,
DIRECTING FEATURE FILMS (published in April of 2002) is currently used as required text in film schools worldwide. His third book, THE FILM DIRECTOR’S BAG OF TRICKS: Get What You Want from Writers and Actors was published in 2011. Mark’s popular DVD, HOLLYWOOD FILM DIRECTING, is available now.
MARK TRAVIS and ELSHA BOHNERT offer workshops and consultations on all aspects of storytelling for writers, directors and actors.
MARK TRAVIS and ELSHA BOHNERT offer workshops and consultations on all aspects of storytelling for writers, directors and actors. ELSHA BOHNERT is Chief of Staff of Boyden Road Productions and the director of The Travis Story Center in Los Angeles, California. She is the author of DON’T TRIP OVER THE GARDEN HOSE (Deuxmers 2013). Her stories and poems have been published in literary journals and she is an award-winning visual artist as well, with works in public and private collections throughout the US, Europe, and Japan. Elsha teaches workshops in “Art & Writing for Healing” and is the only teacher authorized by Mark W. Travis to teach the “Write Your Life” Travis Technique™.
Learn the screenwriting secrets behind successful cinematic stories in the world of film & television script writing.
Paul Castro the original writer of the Warner Bros. hit movie, AUGUST RUSH.He is a produced, award winning screenwriter and world-renowned screenwriting professor. Success leaves clues and so do masterfully crafted screenplays that sell for millions of dollars.