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    #11
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    I'm not sure where there's disagreement - after all, as I said "I'm sure acting talent can be developed (f.ex. in acting classes)". And the followup "but it must be there to begin with [talent], and that is rare IMHO". Or is the disagreement that talent is rare (in the words of Kevin "plenty of amazing actors")? Seems pretty uncontroversial. Classes in anything - or schools for that matter - will have the vast majority of students never developing a talent, because talent is rare: painting academies as much as writing classes - maybe one in 10K or fewer go on to display great talent. It's no different with acting classes.

    "Take two actors of equal talent. One is successful, one isn't. Why is that." - seems to me a bit silly. I mean, it's a truism that in any field anywhere you don't have 100% of the people reach their full potential. There are surely people who don't reach success despite their talent. That's hardly a big insight, we all know that. We're talking about something different, which the Meisner quote elides - not about why a given actor does not become successful (Sanford Meisner's word). Rather, why is it so rare that we see good actors on screen, period. That's not the same thing. Because what Meisner is implying is what Kevin is stating outright - the ability to sell yourself is what sets these two apart. Yet, that is clearly not what I'm getting at. And it's very easy to prove: if the reason that we don't have more talented actors on screen is not because talent is rare, but because there are hords ("plenty") of actors who are talented but just don't know how to sell themselves... then we wouldn't see such heavily skewed talent numbers in the small indie movie world acting vs pro actors. If talent is not what distinguishes them, then you should see an equal number of talented actors in tiny productions as in pro production - because presumably the pro guys know how to sell themselves and the tiny production actors - equally talented, just aren't good at selling themselves. Those hopelessly bad peformances of actors in tiny productions are not due to lack of exposure - they got their chance... there they are on the screen!... they're just BAD performers with no talent. After all, many "successful" actors start in exactly the same tiny productions, shoulder to shoulder with the no-talents, except they are GOOD peformers with talent, and so are picked up and go on further to pro status. This is not about not getting through the casting process of a pro production, due to lack of self-promotion skills and poor audition skills. This is about doing the work on the screen in a tiny production, and blowing it right there on screen - they have had their moment to shine, but they didn't shine, which is really the deciding factor. If an actor shines in a tiny production, they very often go on to more roles and a career, but the question remains: why are the rest of the performers in those tiny production so often so bad - compared to pro productions? The big productions simply skim the cream from the top of the tiny films. That's how they end up with a concentration of scarce talent, while small productions can't afford that process. That's because talent is rare - or else you would see it regularly in tiny productions - which are notable for deficiencies in the acting department compared to pro productions. Same of course for everyone else - DPs, directors, special effects people etc. - the good/talented move on to pro status and bigger productions. It's not a perfect process - talented folks can disappear, and hacks can get careers, but we are talking about numbers. On the whole, tiny productions have a lower concentration of talent across the board - compared to pro productions. That's because of scarcity - talent is rare.

    Again, this is not a knock on acting classes. Like piano lessons, they are critical. But just as millions of piano students the world over don't have what it takes to become concert pianists, so too here. And no amount of piano lessons or acting classes or painting instructors are going to turn the vast majority of average students into top performers, because the limiting factor is potential. Some have it, most don't.


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    #12
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    I'm curious oldcorpse - Have you worked with actors before - in a rehearsal setting? Have you ever studied acting or directing - let's say more than a semester?


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    #13
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    I've worked with actors extensively. I've produced small independent films, and I have directed shorts. I have worked with actors also on the business side (in a talent agency). I've been in many rehearsals, auditions, and I have even acted in 1 small feature and several shorts. I have huge respect for actors, and I have never underestimated what it takes to carry a movie. Furthermore, based on my experiences working in an agency as well as producing, I am convinced that actors are worth every penny they can get. That said, I have not studied acting in a formal setting (I've taken a couple of acting classes years and years ago, so I don't count that as "study"), and I don't count reading books, watching movies and going to theater for casting purposes (all of which I have done), as qualifying as "study" either. I am definitely not an actor.

    My view of the acting talent distribution is based on having been through - many times - the casting process where actors are selected (both myself and with directors), having sat in on (many) auditions, working with directors and finding actors for productions. And my conviction is that talent is rare, and even when present it takes a variety of forms. There are excellent actors who can play bit parts, but who cannot carry a movie. There are actors whose technique is actually fairly poor, but who have a screen presence that is quite magnetic, and worth paying for to have in your movie. There are actors who have everything, but a fatal flaw prevents them from reaching their potential (I'm thinking specifically of one actor whom I've come across recently who was fantastic in every way, except he had a ridiculous voice). And so on. In short, actors and acting "are a land of contrasts"

    Let me also make clear that I don't doubt your experiences - you find talented actors quite plentiful - and I can only congratulate you on your perspective.


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    #14
    Senior Member rsbush's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldCorpse View Post
    no amount of piano lessons or acting classes or painting instructors are going to turn the vast majority of average students into top performers, because the limiting factor is potential. Some have it, most don't.
    This is hardly a big insight. We all know that.


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    #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by rsbush View Post
    This is hardly a big insight.
    Agreed 100%.

    Quote Originally Posted by rsbush View Post
    We all know that.
    Apparently, not all - see this thread.


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    #16
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    Well sorry you come across so many actors with so little talent. I would imagine it be hard on a fella. But it sounds like you've made peace with it.
    Last edited by kevin baggott; 12-02-2016 at 01:49 PM.


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    #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by rsbush View Post
    This is hardly a big insight. We all know that.
    When y'all say "talent," are you talking about something inborn, that you can't change? If so, I actually disagree. I'm a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000-hour rule.

    Please note that to keep posts from looking like End User License Agreements, they should be interpreted for gist, for what is true 80% of the time. In this case, for example, yes, I agree that there is such a thing as talent, that some people seem to have more innate ability for certain specific things. But I think it is, to steal from Edison, 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

    Bad acting I tend to blame on the director. Most of the cringe-worthy scenes I've seen appear to me to be over-directed.

    • If you have a decent script, a director can end up with a passable scene by just getting out of the way. Run through the scene and let the actors find an interpretation that feels natural, maybe encouraging them in what is good. They might not take chances, they might not be brilliant, but I don't think they would be remarkably bad. You shoot it with straightforward, simple, non-fancy camera coverage, and edit it together in a simple, obvious way. The audience might think this movie is kind of boring, but I don't think they will say, "Ugh, that is bad acting." Two quotes come to mind: Howard Hawks defined a good director as "someone who doesn't annoy you," and then someone else who said something like, "This script is so good it could only be ruined by a 'talented' director."*

    • Again, the movies where the acting is so bad that the movie's not just kind of boring but that even nontechnical audience members say, "That was bad acting," I think are usually actually overwrought directing. Like the director has clearly told the actors to really ham it up, probably doing several takes to get them there, "No, I mean really, really, really be an annoying nerd. Okay, take 47...." Or where the director is highly visual, doing all these different, ornate shots, but he chopped it up so much that the actors act unnaturally. He had them say just a line or two per camera angle, so the acting doesn't flow together.

    • If you're talking about a brilliant movie with outstanding acting, then yes, I think that can only come when you have talented actors.

    But I think most of the indie movies with bad acting you talk about are bad because: (a) chaotic sets, because one guy is doing everything; (b) bad production design [see (a)], (c) bad script with lines so bad that even Sir Laurence Olivier couldn't wrap his tongue around them, (d) bad directing, where the director is trying to be artistic and is forcing the actors to jump through hoops for some emotional or visual result in his mind, and (e) non-actors: there's a difference between a disciplined and experienced but unexceptional actor, and your mom (unless your mom is an experienced actor).

    * That's not to say that you can't be a good director if you go for fancy camera moves or over-the-top acting. See the Coen Brothers, Robert Zemeckis, Peter Jackson, and others.

    ---

    After reading the thread more closely, I wonder if the disagreement is partly from bisecting instead of trisecting. If, like OldCorpse, you're talking about "amazing" acting, then yes, this is the exclusive realm of talented talent. I think Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, and other international stars are rare, and that if they weren't actors they would still strike me in some way as exceptional personalities. Tom Cruise, at least, is very physically striking, no matter what you say about his acting.

    And if you're talking about "bad" acting, then I stand by my assertion that if acting that is so bad that it catches the attention of general audiences, then the script and director are mostly to blame. However, I think there is a middle ground where everything is "fine." In fact if the script and director are both superb then audiences will love the movie, even if the actors are just average (but still professional, disciplined and have a decent amount of experience).

    So, if we're talking about three levels --- bad, fine, and amazing --- then maybe we can find common ground. If we're only going to say an actor is "bad" or "amazing" then it's going to be hard.
    Last edited by combatentropy; 12-02-2016 at 08:29 PM.


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    #18
    Senior Member rsbush's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by combatentropy View Post
    When y'all say "talent," are you talking about something inborn, that you can't change? If so, I actually disagree. I'm a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000-hour rule.
    Yeah, I believe we are born with innate abilities. If you don't have "it" (whatever it is) no amount of work will get "it" for you. That being said, I also believe you need to be a fanatic about the work to reach your potential. Gladwell's 10,000 hours is just scratching the surface. In the acting world there's the saying, "It takes 20 years to become a good actor."

    But other than that, in spirit, I pretty much agree with everything you're saying. I would add that a lot of sub-par acting comes from actors trying too hard.

    Like Kevin Baggott, I'm of the opinion that there is a lot of talent out there. You just need to know where and how to look for it. It seems to me that Old Corpse is only willing to call the exceptionally talented, talented.
    Last edited by rsbush; 12-03-2016 at 05:29 AM.


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    #19
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    'I'm of the opinion that there is a lot of talent out there. You just need to know where and how to look for it. It seems to me that Old Corpse is only willing to call the exceptionally talented, talented.'

    aaahhhhhhhh - like water those three sentences. Applause!


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    #20
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    There are two quotes that come to mind in regards to this discussion;
    "Don't understand me too quickly." Andre Gide
    "It's as hard to read a good book as it is to write one." Cocteau.


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