When making small talk at gatherings, once all the parties’ occupations have had their two questions, an inevitable question thrown in my direction is What’s it like to work with actors? My usual answer is that they’re a necessary evil – a cross to be borne in order for us writers to tell our stories.
It gets a laugh – obviously I don’t give this answer when in the company of actor/s – but just between you and me, I’m a little afraid of actors.
Being a working screenwriter might be all about getting paid and buying things on TradeMe but it don’t count for a slab of Whittakers’ finest if you don’t get produced. And to get produced, amidst the small army of collaborators who will trample your ego, mince your work, and sully your vision are… actors.
Unless you take up puppeteering, anime or cartooning, you’re going to have to accept the fact that someone – not a clone of you, not some doppelganger of you – is going to take your words and –
– and what? At worst, expose you to be the hack you’ve been all along.
At best – and this happens more often than you think – bring your characters to life in ways you never imagined.
Of course what you see in readings/rehearsal/shooting/editing it’s not what you had in mind. Those uppity actors are asking a million questions about motivation, moulding your characters this way and that, challenging the backstory you created. They’re taking over… and as they put a face and tic and walk to your characters, they’re irrevocably changing them.
Change is good.