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Creating a Powerful Moment Before in Acting

Hey Guys, I have another “art” post for you.

moment before graphic

Okay, odds are you’ve heard of it. And it seems pretty self-explanatory, right? When it comes to the moment before in acting, you might think it’s something that kind of takes cares of itself. It’s just a quick question you ask, answer and boom! You’re done.

Not that I want you to belabor this important piece of your process, but it is necessary that you give it the time it deserves.

So what is the moment before in acting all about?

First off, yeah, you have to ask yourself what happened right before the scene began. Not a few hours ago, not yesterday, but seconds before the scene begins. So if you’re entering a scene where your best friend is about to confront you for lying to them about something, you ask yourself what happened the moment before you walked in?

But let’s take it a step further and prepare for the opposite. Maybe you just had the best afternoon ever: The guy you like just asked you out, you had a really delicious sandwich for lunch and you got an A on that super hard science test you studied really hard for. If you come in on an emotional high, you have farther to fall in the scene with your friend when they confront you with something difficult. It gives you someplace to go.

I recently worked with an actress on a comedic audition scene where she had to enter and immediately see something that horrified and disgusted her. When she first played it out, she came in angry and frustrated. She justified this choice because the character is super bratty so it made sense to her that she’d already be in a bad mood. However, when we tried adjusting it so that she entered really excited about a boy she had just got off the phone with, the shock she experienced when she entered was much more powerful and quite hilarious. Even snotty people have great days. :)

The other thing to try is making choices for the moment before that intensify your character’s obstacle. In that first scenario, your best friend is about to confront you for a lie you told so perhaps your objective (or want) becomes maintaining the lie to protect someone. Your obstacle is the incredible love you have of this friendship. So you might ask yourself in your preparation, how can I make my obstacle even greater and more difficult to overcome? Maybe the moment before you enter you were listening to a song on your ipod (either for real, if possible, or using your imagination) that reminds you of a specific, awesome memory you had with this friend when you were kids. Now when you start the scene you are filled up with your love for them and it will be that much more difficult for you to keep up the lie. It will intensify your obstacle.

Lastly, please remember that you do all of this in your preparation, but when the time comes to start the scene, you let it go and get present so you can really live it.

Go get ‘em, tigers.

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