Film Actor Using Alba
Understanding and learning to manage emotional intensity levels is an important practice within the study of Alba. Here is a story from my book, The Emotional Body, describing how a film actor used Alba and his understanding of emotional intensity when working on a film project.
While teaching a college class in film acting, I was coaching an actor before a scene shoot. The actor was familiar with Alba Emoting and he was excited to see how this method translated from his stage acting practice to film acting. He recognized that film acting, particularly close up shots, requires extremely low-level use of the Alba patterns, so the expressions are not too big for the camera. He was working on reducing his expressive level just before he was due on the set for filming.
The student director of the project was watching his rehearsal and kept stopping him and instructing, “Deliver this text with no emotion at all.” The actor was confused about how to deliver the text with absolutely no emotion, so he tried a few takes using various low-level emotional choices, hoping that was what the director was looking for in his delivery. However, the director kept insisting, “No. I really don’t want to see any emotion at all.”
I finally pulled the actor aside and instructed him, “If the director really wants no emotion, I think you should show him what no emotion truly is. Use the neutral pattern and deliver the entire text while staying in neutral. This will mean that your voice will be monotone with no expressive intonation, you will have no gestures, facial expressions, and will simply stand with your body relaxed, symmetrical, and softly staring at the camera.” The actor returned to his rehearsal spot and began his text as I instructed. He looked and sounded like a robot reciting text. The director looked at him, speechless. Finally he said, “What was that?” The actor calmly replied, “That was a delivery with the closest I can humanly come to speaking with no emotion. Is that what you wanted?” The director started laughing, more so at himself than the actor, “No! Wow! Definitely not what I am looking for in this scene.”
I stepped in again, but this time I talked to both actor and director, “Perhaps we could talk a bit about what it is you are really looking for, and without using the phrase ‘no emotion.’ Then maybe we will be more successful in providing a performance that aligns with your vision.” We engaged in a brief question and answer session about the director’s vision for the moment, and soon enough discovered that the director was trying to get the actor to express a situation where only low-level positive emotions would be expressed. It was a classic situation where low-level positive emotions are overlooked, and only negative emotions are considered emotional. The actor finally knew what to do and was able to quickly provide a performance that made both director and actor happy.
Click here to learn more about the book, The Emotional Body.
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