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Hum 3: Film Principles
Fr. Rene C. Ocampo, SJ/Bong S. Eliab
Second Semester, 2001-2002
Humanities Division
School of Arts and Sciences
Ateneo de Davao University

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Rev. Nick Cruz, SJ


 What is good acting? Effecting acting is an intermingling of several factors pertinent to the director's interpretation of the film material.  Good acting results from the actor's penetration of the character he portrays making the viewer feel even for the space of two hours or less that he is the character (example Lenny in Of Mice and Men) and not the actor (John Malchovich).

I. The personality of the star must suit the role to appear credible. In this light Nora Aunor instantly comes to mind as the miracle worker in Himala, Bembol Roco as Julio Madiaga in Maynila sa mga kuko ng Liwanag, Vilma Santos as Sister Stella L., Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O` Hara in Gone with the Wind, Jack Nicholson as R.P McMurphy in One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Typecasting is a practice long ingrained in the mind of filmmakers, the stars and the movie audiences as well. Familiarity with a role facilitates acting and makes it convenient for the ordinary moviegoer to establish rapport with his favorite star.  It is dangerous for producers to cast a popular star in a role, which he has not been known for because the public may not like it, hence, not patronize the movie. The case in point is Vilma Santos in her role as a nun in Sister Stella L., the movie did poorly at the box-office.

The actor in an oft-repeated role, like Fernando Poe Jr. as the “avenger and savior" of the oppressed is like a goldfish swimming around the narrow confines of an aquarium. It must try his skills in the "wide open seas". A true actor must aspire for varied roles to prove his mettle as a genuine artist, like Daniel Day-Lewis, Glen Close, Meryl Streep, Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis, Maricel Soriano.

2. Actors must have screen presence (cinegenic): the capacity to register powerfully in pictures. Such is the case of Meryl Streep who suffuses and burns the screen with her presence. Actors must be extra sensitive in front of the camera: a shrug of his shoulders, arching of the eyebrow, eye movement, a thin smile and other facial expressions. Study the acting of Jack Nicholson in his role as Randall P. McMurphy, a lunatic in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and John Malchovich as Lenny, the retarded in Of Mice and Men.

3.   Dialogue plays a crucial part in revealing and in the delineation of the character. Voice projection (right timber volume, texture and rhythm) is needed in each scene. A simple "hello" can convey a variety of emotions. Screen talents allow their voices to be dubbed to sound more convincing. All actors with a muscular physique will sound funny or ridiculous in squeaky voice.

4.   A typical performance is two-dimensional, super-obvious, hackneyed, attention-calling, hysterical, melodrama, camera-conscious.   We must remember, though, that acting is not an isolated activity particularly in the film medium.  If acting is deficient, it may be attributed to a bad script, unnatural and unreal characterization, improbable situations, dated dialogue, careless direction, haphazard editing.


                        Contemporary directors usually cast the film, selecting actors who can respond to his method of working, regardless of their own styles.  The relationship between actor and director is highly complicated and varies greatly from director to director.  Because he is the only person who has a complete view of the film, he often imposes this view in his actors.  Sometimes he manipulates the actors as to facial expressions, inner feelings and delivery of dialogue without necessarily confiding in them the purpose of the direction.  Others approach their relationship with actors quite differently, demanding that they conceive their roles in terms of the entire film and they invest a great deal of time discussing the character and the ideas of the film with the actors.

                        The rapport between director and the actor is crucial to the success of a film.  Writers, cinematographers, editors, et al. can be controlled simply by edict: if they cannot deliver, they can be replaced. But once shooting has begun, it is very costly to replace an actor.   The director must know precisely the range of an actor: his physical features, his performance and who alone is able to evaluate the effectiveness of a performance within the context of the total film.

                        It is also important for the director to consider the position of the camera and the point-of-view from which the audience will relate to the actor.  For instance: if the director lacks confidence in an actor, a key scene may be played as a long or medium shot, instead of a close-up.  Occasionally, if an actor is incapable of showing certain expression, the director may avoid showing his face and let the audience imagine the facial expressions required.

                        People may go to movies for the visceral excitement of fast-paced actions but they become moviegoers because of the actors they see on the screen.   They come back to see their favorite actors and actresses.


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Ateneo de Davao University
08 February 2002