Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Glance I'll Never Forget

"I love you". "So long". "Promise me we'll meet again". "Don't go"...
The most meaningful sentences of a lifetime are always accompanied by a look, a glance without which words wouldn't mean the same. We might have not given it some serious thought so far, but those looks remain in our memory, no matter what.
How many times have we said something like, "I'll never forget the way he/she looked at me"?

Some of my most meaningful memories regard the way some persons looked at me while saying something important, or while a unique event was taking place.
For some reason, though, my eye memories all have a sad backtaste in common.
I will never forget my little friend's look - we were kindergarten kids - when I told her: "We're no longer friends"; the kind of things we say when we're kids (and when we're adults too). I must have been six, so she was five. She kept looking at me, but her eyes had changed and had become sad; I felt so sorry and guilty I took back what I had said and apologized.
I will never forget my father's look when he saw me off at the airport, leaving for America.
I will never forget when a friend said bye and I corrected her saying, "No, farewell forever is more appropriate"; I don't think I can ever forget the way she looked at me while replying, "Oh, Jacopo...".
I will never forget my dog's eyes the times he bit me. He would pull his ears back, coming again close to me but very slowly, like asking me for permission to approach me; his eyes, round and regretful as if to say, "I'm so sorry, I just couldn't control myself", conveyed the most sincere and genuine apologies I have ever received; so, I was never able to punish him.  

I deeply believe that our eyes enclose the meaning of who we are, and reveal it in a subtle way. What I learned from life - and also through my acting experience - is that the eyes and the eyes only can guarantee a complete and profound emotional connection with the person standing before us.

Has anybody ever looked at you in a way you will never forget?


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I've Been Tagged Too!

I've been tagged by Claudia Del Balso, Writer.
This is my first time being tagged and it looks so much fun! And, as far as I'm being told, it's a way to meet new bloggers, highlight and be highlighted. So, let's go for it!

The Rules Are:
1. You must post the rules.
2. Post eleven fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you've tagged.
4. Tag eleven bloggers, however, you can break the rules and tag fewer people if you want. Make suer you hyperlink their names/blogs.
5. Let them know you've tagged them!
6. Have fun!

Here are my answers to Claudia's questions:
1) What's your favorite classic (book)?
- Let's say one of my favorites: Dracula.

2) Whose writing style would you like to emulate?
- Edgar Allan Poe's

3) Have you taken workshops to hone your writing?
- Not exactly. I took up creative writing at university.

4) Do you have a mentor?
- Yes, William of Baskerville.

5) Which is your favorite cuisine?
- Italian, duh!

6) Which is you favorite season?
- Spring

7) Which genre do you write/read
- I can read any genre as long as I'm pushed by an inner need. I would ideally write both fiction and non fiction.

8) If you had the chance to run off with one of your favorite characters, who would it be?
- Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights

9) Which song brings you to tears?
- Sarah Brightman's Deliver Me.

10) Have you used someone else's secret in one of your stories/books/poems?
- No, I only use my own secrets, but they're well disguised.

11) Do you believe in soul mates?
- Oh, if I do!

My Tagged Bloggers: 

Essentially Italian...

Malleable Reality

Barefoot Arrow Song

The Curmudgeon's Complaint

Thoughts on Acting

Jennifer Luong's Blog

Writing with Light

A Starving Artist's Life for Me

Mist of the Blossom Rain

Morgan Shamy

Whatever Floats Your Canoe

My 11 questions to my tagged followers:

1) Which is your favorite movie/novel character?
2) How long does it normally take you to read a novel?
3) Can you watch a movie more than ten times?
4) Do you ever listen to music while working on a character/writing?
5) Which movie role would you pay to be cast for?
6) What's your favorite dish?
7) Which book/movie made you run out of tears?
8) Have you ever prepared/created a character based on a friend or a family member?
9) Have you ever had to improvise during a show?
10) Which is the best city you visited so far?
11) Were you ever introduced to a famous actor/writer?

 Have fun reading and playing!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Breaking Habits

Habit! that skillful but slow-moving arranger who begins by letting our minds suffer for weeks on end in temporary quarters, but whom our minds are none the less only too happy to discover at last, for without it, reduced to their own devices, they would be powerless to make any room seem habitable.
M. Proust - Swann's Way

"Jay! Stop moving things around!"

I can still hear my mom. How mad she'd get when she'd find out that I had changed the positions of forks, knives, and spoons inside the kitchen drawer!
I was a kid back then. Yet, I was instinctively convinced that changing the position of kitchenware, plates, pots, pans, and whatnot from one spot in the kitchen to another adjacent spot would force me and my mom to reach for these objects not mechanically, but through an act of conscious will. Of course, I wouldn't have been able to phrase it this way. So, let's say that I believed it would keep our minds active. And so, most of the time, my mom would find herself chopping onions with a spoon and going off the deep end for that!

Habits make us lazy, don't they? They make us function mechanically according to recurrent patterns. As soon as one of these patterns is disrupted, we get lost. As an experiment, you can try repeating aloud the lyrics of a song you know by heart without actually singing and much more slowly. Difficult, isn't it? Yes, because we broke a pattern; we broke a habit, and our mind is not used to novelty!

But how really harmful are habits? I'm always reminded that I should get rid of habits because they're not good. I was never given a convincing reason for that, though.
I concur, it is necessary to be able to break habits when needed. But isn't it just as good to know that our beloved habit is awaiting us right there, and that we can go back to it whenever we want?

Habits are our haven, a shore where for once we needn't worry about the unknown.
They are the sand we tuck our head into when we need protection.
Breaking habits is a great ability. It allows us to improvise and deal with unexpected situations. But going back to our habits sometimes makes us feel safe and makes us feel good!

Do you agree?
Do you have any habits you'd never get rid of? 


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Power of Music

A few days ago, an author friend sent me an unedited story. In a note, my friend suggested to listen to a specific song while reading it. As soon as I saw the note, I knew it was precious advice. I knew that the song my friend suggested would help me understand the message that the story tried to convey.

More and more often, I tend to listen to music when I read books. I try to pick the pieces that, to me, best express - musically - the atmosphere of the book I'm reading. I listen to music while I'm writing, just as I'm doing now.
I discovered that preparing a role over a specific and carefully chosen musical background can give me better insights over the character I'm supposed to play.

Every situation, every place, every real life context has its own perfect soundtrack.
Think of the music they play in gyms. Elton John? Oh, boy, no! They pump iron in there, they need something to help them lift!
You don't put on Rap on a candlelight dinner, do you, just as blues might not be your thing when you're on cloud nine.
Would a movie arouse the same emotions and excitement without a soundtrack?  

So, when you write or act, music can indeed be the best way to find the mood you were looking for. A proper soundtrack can really be the ultimate connection between you and your characters!

Do you use music as a part of your artistic creative process?
Does music accompany your writing, your acting, your painting, or your photographing?


Wednesday, February 1, 2012


"Stupid commercials!!"

How many times have we thought that?
Lots of times!
But have you ever wondered what happens in the behind-the-scenes of a commercial?
Here's a secret: it's not easy for an actor to do commercials!
When you think that they're just playing silly, well, keep in mind there's method in that too. And when you think, "Pff, I can do it!", well, maybe yes, but keep in mind it's not as easy as it looks and sounds.

If you're an actor, here are a few tips you can apply when auditioning for (or performing in) commercials.

1) When you are told the product that you're supposed to advertise, try asking yourself, "Why do I care about this product?"
There's no such answer as "I don't care". You must care. How can you convince somebody if you're not convinced yourself?
So, find a way to care!

2) Then comes the objective. Remember the objective? I talked about it in my post Auditions - Cold Reading.
Don't forget, it's still a role you're auditioning for; so, just as for a theater or movie role, ask yourself, "What's my objective?" To convince, to charm, to spellbind, to explain, to help...
Once you know the context (also commercials have a plot), thinking of a more specific objective will be much easier.

3) Find some ways to hook into the product.
You may ask yourself, "Why is it useful for me to help sell this product?". It is useful, indeed! Think about this: you can pay for your acting classes with the money you get for a commercial! Isn't that enough of a trigger? Or: a commercial might get you seen by some Hollywood big shot who's looking exactly for a person with your looks to play the next James Bond. Isn't that just what you need to tickle your fancy with and build up some motivation?

4) Find out what commercials you're better for, focus on them, and have your agent focus on them too.

5) Practice on commercials and ads from magazines, newspapers, or products wrapping paper.

6) Use the actual product to punctuate the most important parts of your speech.

7) And then, of course, watch as many commercials as you can!

If, instead, you're not an actor, I hope this post will help you see some of the mechanisms lying behind doing commercials.