April 27, 2010

THE WRITE STUFF: ACTORS AREN'T PROPS, SCOTT GIBSON EDITION

Here's a guy who should be watched. His name is Scott Gibson, and well, let's just hope that he will become a lot more known in the wake of Spielberg/Hanks' The Pacific.

In Ep VII, he has his moment, roughly 10 minutes in. Faces. Faces are so incredibly important. I know that a lot of the times people are cast for their looks, and that is how we wind up with these bimbo actresses (sorry, but it needs to be said) or a botoxed Nicole Kidman. And people like that the audience rejects immediately. Why?

Because they can no longer project emotions on their faces.

Hitchcock once said, and the evil Brit was right, that the most effective special effect in a movie is an actor's face in close-up. The botoxed ones only work on the red carpet.

Look at Kate Winslet in a completely atrocious movie, The Holiday. Don't listen. Look. Look at how you can see her emotions just by the way she tells it. It's all in her face.


This is incidentally why I am obsessed with Kate Winslet as a writer. It's not that the camera loves her. Many people are loved by the camera, they look fantastic on film. No, it's the fact that she can transport genuine emotion in a way barely anybody of her generation can.

Now look at these scenes from Australia. Again, the fact that there's music overlaid on top of it doesn't matter. Look at Kidman's face. This is supposed to be a romance. And nothing reaches her face. It looks perfect, like a porcelain doll, in each frame. But there is no real emotion there, it is trapped by snake venom. Happy. Angry. Sad. Her forehead remains wrinkle-free. Her eyebrows are incapable of movement.


And no matter how good a writer can write a scene, no matter how good a director can direct it... you have already lost the audience's heart (and that is why Taylor Lautner should gather up all the money he can get right now...)

And with that, a few frames of The Pacific.


Again, no dialogue here to listen to. And coming from a writer that should say something. We all love to hear ourselves talk. And what we love even more is to hear other people say what we have written. Look at me, Ma! I wrote this!

But I'll tell you the truth here. The things that makes a scene? Is not the dialogue I (or others) write. Yeah. Sorry to all the other writers. I know. We all love to have our egos stroked. We all like to delude ourselves that we are awesome.

But the thing that makes the scene... is what happens between the lines. The pauses. The breaks. The looks. The little smiles that don't reach the eyes. That is, incidentally, why I love actors. Real actors. For moments like this one, by Scott Gibson. You can see that he's tired. You can see that whatever is written in the dialogue, the little joke he makes here, the little story he tells here, it is merely there to put a brave face on it. For the benefit of his men.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what actors do.

They fill in the blanks.

They turn something you write and make it a real person.

That is why they are not props.