Sunday, July 15, 2007
Master-classes at the Fleadh
I went to to Galway Film Fleadh this weekend, just to attend the master-classes. The first on Friday was with Terry George, writer of In the Name of the Father, Some Mother's Son and The Boxer and writer/director of Hotel Rwanda and the forth coming Reservation Road. Anyway, it was very interesting. Interesting to get a glimpse into the world of a successful writer and hear about the kind of techniques he uses, most of which where very different then my own and the way Thomas and I write together. Really what I took from the talk was a reaffirmation that the way I write suits me best and really writing, whether you're successful or not is an entirely personal thing with regards to how you go about it.
On the Saturday morning I attended the acting master-class with Jeremy Irons, which was absolutely fascinating. It was an intimate setting with room of about 100 people. He spoke about his beginning, his decision to become an actor, his training, his start and his career to date, peppered with anecdotes and lessons. He came across as being very charming, funny and a genuine character. He was interesting, intriguing, something of an enigma and had a certain alluring quality that set him apart from everyone else in the room, I guess they call it star quality or, for want of a better phrase, the X factor.
I love hearing stories of what went on behind the scenes, "Meryl and I where in the dressing room chatting before a take..." then you kind of pause for a moment and think "He's talking about Meryl Streep here isn't he?!"
When asked about his voice he referred to a conversation he had with John Hurt while having tea in his house in London, they were talking about the new actors on the scene, Jeremy mentioned that there were some very good ones coming up and John said, "Yes, but do know what I say to them? I say, 'you have a wonderful voice. Do you ever listen to it?' " Nice story.
They largely talked about The Merchant of Venice, Lolita (Irons' personal favourite) Dead Ringers and The Mission. What was fascinating was how he found each character. I enjoyed the story of how he resisted Dead Ringers for a long time, more afraid of the technical aspect then anything else, but once realising that it wasn't going to be difficult he committed and then set about finding how to play the twins.
At first he ask for two separate dressing rooms, went out and shopped for different clothes on different days and played them very differently. But after seeing what he had done, which was to make them two completely different characters easily discernible from one another he knew he'd got it wrong. So he went back, forgot about the two dressing room idea, mixed up all the clothes and found an internal way of finding the character, which was to change the focus of the character. With Elliot, the more confident of the twins, he placed the focus between the eyes, forcing him to stand up straighter, be more direct. With Beverly, the weaker of the two he placed the focus in the throat, a vulnerable place, making him more vulnerable and causing him to slouch and hide.
He also talked about how to use your body, your hands, how to be in an audition, how to control nerves, all very insightful stuff and I'm sure for any actor in the room invaluable information.
He went an hour over the time, so it was certainly value for money. And I came away from it feeling reinvigorated. I guess I was reminded of part of the reason I want to make films, as much as it is about telling stories and creating cinema there is that intangible aspect, the magic that you feel when you're a kid, before you know anything about how films are made and what goes into them. I remember hearing the behind the scenes stories and being captivated by the stars and the world they lived in and for me it was that that drew me in. So nice to be reminded of it.
So thanks for that Mr. Irons, or as I now like to call him Jezzer, cos we're like that!