When In Doubt, When You Are Lost, Don’t Stop
Art serves us best precisely at that point where it can shift our sense of what is possible, when we know more than we knew before, when we feel we have – by some manner of a leap – encountered the truth. That, by the logic of art, is always worth the pain.
— T.S. Eliot
After I read Anne Bogart’s A Director Prepares, I generalized 3 sets of questions that I told myself I will ask myself every time before I start a project, I have to be very truthful and clear about the answers to these 3 sets of questions as a director.
1). A piece/decision is made, the project is the outcome, but what about the BEFORE? – – What do you value? Why does it matter to you? Why do you want to make this project? What is your priority?
Rethink the results of the process, not the outcome. Staying truthful to your intention and take the initiatives in what you do in every step are two of the core things I got out from this book, it sounds simple but it is not absolutely not easy; all the decision from casting the actors to the willingness and the bravery to take risk. Moreover, to bear in mind this mindset and take accordingly action to each steps in the process despite of all the criticism. The criticism from your crew, your first review, and your self-doubt of your own creation, personally I am always the one that go most harsh on my own creative project. It’s not uncommon that as an artist I feel stupid when my genuine intention is not being reciprocated; however, with a truthful intention, it always lead to more discovery and unexpected outcomes.
One thing I learned from the process to develop The Seagull is to not judge the characters despite you think you would never be friend with them personally. A vital mindset for a director is to adopt the attitude that the project is an adventure larger than anything you might imagine, an entity that will challenge you to find an instinctual path through it. By not allowing yourself stay superior than your project, you open a door for yourself to a lot more triggers to more adventures of unlimited possibility. Additionally, you will need a like-mind team to “hold your hand” through this expeditionary adventure.
2). Speaking of a team, ask yourself, who do you want to work with?
“You cannot create results; you can only create the conditions in which something might happen”. (Page. 124) Bogart talks about how good actors are ready to embarrass themselves in every moment, the habit and mindset of ready to begin a self-discovery adventure in every moment. As a director, I certainly need to know what I am looking for, but having a right team to go explore the right questions and “discern when and how to ask them” (Page. 131) will take me further. As Robert Lepage once said he doesn’t like the idea of casting roles, he likes to choose interesting people to work with and see what they can bring to the characters. There are always doubt, fears, anxiety to push through a creative project that is personal to you, working with people who have the attitude of wanting to take risk and to ready to challenge themselves for the sake of art and self-growth will push through the project with you together, and when you all find a personal and mutual reason to do some, your clear and strong intention will resonate with your audience. As a Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki once temarked: ‘There is no such thing as good or bad acting, only degrees of profundity of the actor’s reason for being on stage.’ This reason is manifest in your body and in your energy. (Page. 119)
3). This is your own bullshit, why should people care about it?
— be truthful with your job, and they will find their own reasons.
A director cannot hide from an audience because intentions are always visible, palpable. An audience senses your attitude towards them. They smell your fright or condescension. They know instinctively that you want only to impress or conquer. They sense your engagement or lack of it. These qualities live in your body and are visible in your work. You must have a reason to do what it is you do because these reasons are felt by anyone who comes in contact with your work. It matters how you treat people, how you take responsibility in a crisis, what values you develop, your politics, what you read, how you speak and even which words you choose. You cannot hide. (Page. 119)
“In art, the truth is always [manifesting] in the experience of it”(Page. 120). There might be various intentions for a director to do a project, but for me personally, it is always an endless journey with myself and with others individuals that leads to more discoveries, and it is about sharing my inspiration with the world, hopefully through my sincerity and the challenges I pushed through I can shift their sense of what is possible, thereby to inspire my audience. At the end of the day, we all are not that different, we are all human who search for meanings in the things we do and wants to be love. Although I was talking about how be clear and truthful about the answers to all these 3 sets of questions, but it is ok to not know the exact answer, as long as you keep exploring.
I am glad that this book reinforces my belief of having a clear intention/reason to direct a project, and figure out what a project means to you personally are 2 of the most essential elements in order to genuinely touch your audience, and when you’re clear about those questions, choose the right team to push through the project with you together in this journey of creation and exploration.Of course there are ways more jobs need to be done as a director to produce a good project, as well as from a more practical standpoint; the financial factor in a production, but these are the foundation to off a good start.