I'm not talking about memorizing lines, although I think that's difficult too. What I'm referring to is watching themselves on the big screen. How do actors do it?
There's a logical reason why my thoughts have drifted this way. Yesterday, my latest lynda.com title was released: A Photographer in Cuba. It's what we call a live action course. Instead of you listening to me while I work at a computer screen, I talk directly into the lens. Yes, lights, camera, action.
The story goes something like this. Photographer gets an opportunity to work in Cuba. He tells his producer about the trip and receives a contract to make the movie. He returns home with SD cards full of photos and videos. Photographer then goes to the lynda.com studios in Carpinteria, CA to tell the story in front of a film crew. Months later, the title is released.
After watching a few of the scenes with me yesterday, Theresa asked: "Do you have a script, or are you just winging it?" Well, I make movies the same way I record podcasts. I write an outline containing the key points, I memorize those highlights, then I just tell the story. In other words, I wing it.
Here's a scene where I talk about music and art in Cuba. I basically know what I'm going to say before the camera starts rolling. I'm just not sure how the words are going to come out.
This might seem crazy to you. But reading a script off a teleprompter, or memorizing 90 minutes of monologue feels even more insane. I look like a droid when I read off a prompter.
All of this is like sipping rum compared to the really hard part: watching myself in action once the title is released. How do actors do it?
How do you sit there with other people and not cringe at every gaff, awkward twist of phrase, or expressions and gestures that you didn't even know you had?
Here's how I survive. I wrap myself in the story. Is it interesting, worth telling, helpful to others? Yes. Do I care about my subject? Yes. Am I sincere in my endeavor and even manage the periodic dash of humor? Yes.
Then, quite honestly, I need to get over the other stuff. And as a result, I'm feeling good about A Photographer in Cuba.
Just ignore my occasional clenched fists.