Sunday, July 26, 2009

TALA Master Class - Day 3 (part 3)

Day 3 (part 3)

Can you get a sense of how exhausting each day is?

Next up, Jerry once again. This time he's going to "audition" Israeli actors.I'm not quite sure why.

Certainly, casting is important. He's taking the stance that "casting is everything". I won't argue a ton with that, because he's quite right that TV directors have almost no time to direct (more than announce blocking) and as hired guns directors don't have much ability to make an impact on a performance no matter how much talent they have in the film world. They're gone the next week. The actors there until the series is over. That’s all you need to know in terms of who’s in charge.

Jerry's talking about how he doesn't believe you need star actors - example ER. They were unknowns at the time, but now studios and networks all have their lists of who they want and to get anyone approved is an unbelievable series of hurdles. Sounds like he’s got another bedtime conversation with Nina there.

As to his directing style, he tells the Israeli’s: "I will say nothing to an actor. The more I say, the worse it gets. I wait for them to ask me questions. If have to give more than two notes, I just move, on because I know it's not going to change. My favorite kind of actor is the one I don't have to talk to. If a director's not talking to you, it's good."

Also…"Auditions have nothing to do with acting. And a pilot is just a sales tool. I wish they were the same, but they're not." Again, it’s a little cynical, but he’s got a point.

Now Jerry has Israeli actors read the opening from the Friends pilot. This goes on a long while.They continually lost where they were in the script and Jerry started getting frustrated.

We've move on to Monk. The one person auditioning in Monk’s role studied his lines, but the other ‘readers’ haven’t seen the script before. The Israeli’s aren’t prepared and they’re ability to cold read the lines is miserable. The language barrier is killing them. The pace is miserable. Finally, Jerry took over with great energy and blazing through the lines. "See. You've got to kick it." Then he invoked the old “Louder, Faster, Funnier.” adage. Again, he’s right, BUT you can’t tell if they’re bad actors.All you can really tell is that they can’t read English as well as we can.

I run to Ruth the director of this master class and ask her if there is a script in Hebrew anywhere in the building. Any script. I want to throw it to Jerry and have them do it ASAP. He wants the energy and the pace. It doesn’t matter if he understands or we do. It’s opera. It matters if THEY understand. If they do, then we get it.

Ruth says no. No scripts. I’m a little baffled, but days later I discover this place is just a art house theatre, not a film school as I first thought.Someone mentioned it was like AFI. I guess they don’t really know what AFI is.

We moved on to a scene from Will & Grace and they get a little better the more times they read the script, but it’s still kinda painful at times and one of the actors is a star of some kind. He was the lead in a film that was just at Cannes. It made a huge splash all over Europe. You’d never know.

Afterwards, I suggest to Jerry they do it with scripts in Hebrew next time.

“Man! Why did you say something during the class?” he blares.

“No one had a script on hand.”

“That would have been great. I didn’t need to know what they were saying.”

“Next time I guess.”

As I head home I’m desperate for a nap, but I walk home with a film/TV director Dani Rosenberg and he invites me to his apartment for coffee. I’m thrilled. I can’t say no. And I don’t want to (except for the DESPERATE need for sleep)

We have a great time and talk for two hours about the indie film world, how Bulgaria is the new Thailand for Israeli’s, etc. etc.

Finally, I get home in time for… me to change clothes and leave for a party at the Old Port.


7PM We meet in the hotel to take taxis to the the party.

I can barely stand, but The Old Port party is fantastic. Right on the breakwater, this renovated area is hip and cool. A DJ spins MJ at my request and I flirt with a bunch of Israeli’s, drink many a free Goldstar beer while actually meeting some wonderful people both part of the master class and related to it. The most interesting meeting was Iris’husband. He was dressed in draped while linen, had amazing huge necklaces and walked with great difficulty and a cane.

We spoke. He had a bad stroke a

while back. We talked a while longer about strokes and how I’d just heard an amazing program on NPR’s Fresh Air about Jill Bolte Taylor, a neurological researcher who in her late 30s had a blood vessel explode in her brain.

She tells an amazing story of trying to dial the phone when she knew she was having a stroke and then the feeling of Euphoria that enveloped her when she lost all Left brain functions and past and future worry disappeared. She lived only in the perfect present. Objects before her had no meaning. They were all color and light. She experienced peace and joy like never before. But eventually

she recovered and after a long period of therapy, she could write and talk again and had written a book, the bestselling memoir My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey. (click here to hear and read the story)

As for his story, he healed himself.Now he’s a healer for others. Based on his attire, I asked “Are you a shaman?”. He was amazed I knew it. I asked how he studied shamanism (as it’s a favorite study of mine). He said the Zulu. I mentioned I was going to South Africa and he said to ask any Zulu if they knew “White Bear”.Apparently, I will be welcome.

God I love traveling abroad.

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