“Actor For Life” Quotes

I recently read Actor for Life: How To Have An Amazing Career Without All The Drama by Connie de Veer and Jan Elfline. Here’s the quotes I found most interesting:

“For one week, start your days with two minutes of power. Stand in one or the other of the power poses (“Superman” pose – feet shoulder width apart and your hands on your hips, and the second pose, stand with your arms stretched out above you and to the sides, so your body forms a four pointed star – like athletes crossing the finish line), or mix the two. Spend two whole minutes. That’s a fourteen minute investment, total. Give it a try.” (57)

“Imagine yourself walking into the audition room with beliefs like this: “I love what I do.” “I get an opportunity to share my gifts with others, right now in this audition.” “I’m well-prepared for this.” “I’ve done enough.” “I’m ready.” “Aren’t they nice people/” “We’re equal partners, those interesting people over there and me.” “I’m so grateful I get to be here doing this.” “Whatever comes of this audition, it’s all good. I will have met inspiring people, shown them what I can do, and gained experience. Most of all, I will have used my time to prepare for and then do the thing I love.”” (63)

“You want a belief to move you forward, not away from something. “More peace” is toward. “Less worry” is away from. “Feeling motivated” is toward.” “Not procrastinating” is away from.” (64)

“Concern yourself with being good first, and how to move through your career second. Have the product, have the goods, have the chops, and then worry about where it’s going to take you.” (89)

“Fortune brings in some boats that are not steer’d.” -Cymbeline, Act 4, scene 3 (106)

“The brain’s neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of well-being increases more in the person who gives a gift than it does in the recipient.” (124)

“I increase the sum total of human happiness.” If we all used that as a guide, what kind of world would we create?” (130)

“Come in with your own interpretation. Because that interpretation might open a door and shine a new light on the character, and provide something the writers, director, and casting director haven’t thought of.” (143)

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“I Must Say” Quotes

I recently read I Must Say: My Life As A Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short. Here’s the quotes I found most interesting:

“What I discovered, through Ed, was that I simply needed to commit: to not worry about jokes. The reaction seemed to get the biggest lagush, not the action. I didn’t need to be a stand-up comedian delivering punch lines. If I just sincerely devoted myself to Ed’s panic with every fiber of my being, the audience would commit to him.” (5)

“Something terrible can happen to you, and yet, the day after this something terrible, the sun still rises, and life goes on. And therefore, so must you.” (49)

“What we all learned at Second City was to trust the concept that our comedy wasn’t about jokes. Rather, it was about situations and characters – the peculiar moments that we encounter in life, the peculiar people that we meet, and how we (and they) react to these moments and meetings.” (142)

“Don’t telegraph, don’t oversell – that was how you created an absurd yet three-dimensional character.” (143)

“The working pace at SCTV was so civilized. We’d take six weeks to write and then six weeks to shoot, followed by another cycle of six weeks writing and six weeks shooting. The writing breaks were crucial, for they allowed inchoate ideas to develop, mature, ripen, and, on occasion, ferment into total, utter originality, all without the SNL-style pressure of “Whaddaya got for this week/” (159)

“I wasn’t above poking fun at Jerry Lewis, but I brought affection and a sense of tribute to my Lewis bits too… Yes, you had to show the warts, but you also had to prove why the subject was worthy of your attention.” (163)

“The way I see it, you spend the first fifteen years of your life as a sponge, soaking up influences and experiences, and the remainder of your life recycling, regurgitating, and reprocessing those first fifteen years.” (163)

“After each take, we’d all crowd around the monitor and watch the playback, and everyone would discuss how to recalibrate the scene for the next take: “Okay, maybe a little less from John, a little more form Andrea, and a lot less from Marty.” (174)

“Manic energy, I learned as the season went on, was the key to success on SNL, and a big differentiator from SCTV: the need for insane, unexpected, can’t look away energy.” (179)

“You can be incredibly talented comedically, but on the unforgiving stage of Saturday Night Live, if you don’t bring that immediate energy, you just won’t connect with the audience.” (179)

“In Hollywood, you’re hottest at the point when you’re all about anticipation: when everyone in the business knows you have product pending, but none of it is out yet. You’re busy, in demand, hectically jumping from one job to the next, energized by a sustained industry murmur.” (193)

“I have this philosophy around people I don’t know but am excited to meet that I call “immediate intimacy”: I do an impersonation of someone who is relaxed, loose, and not at all intimidated, in the hope that this impersonation will ultimately become reality.” (196)

“Critical favor, talent, and tenacity are only part of the formula for a hit. You also need luck and good timing.” (206)

“Damage’s creators, Daniel Zelman and the brothers Todd and Glenn Kessler, liked using comic actors in serious roles, trusting them to be looser and more inventive with dialogue.” (284)

“When you start your career, you worry about how you’re going to pay the rent. But when that’s covered, you feel an even greater pressure: How do you stay interested? For me, the answer has always lain in the theater. Live performance – in its potential for danger, fun, and anarchy – is what sustains me.” (311)

“A sermon by Oxford theologian Henry Scott Holland has evolved over time into a funeral prayer:
Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Everything remains as it was.
The old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no sorrow in your tone. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.” (316)

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“The Warner Loughlin Technique” Quotes

I recently read “The Warner Loughlin Technique” by Warner Loughlin. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like them, buy the book here.

“Master the character first, and then put the character in the circumstances of the scene.” (19)

“That is how you make a strong choice. Give it an emotional reason to exist while making sure that it is both appropriate to the character and the story.” (57)

“Unless the screenplay lays out for you the events that happened in the character’s life, you will want to invent them. You can’t truly know someone unless you know their ‘life story,’ so to speak.” (57)

“The darker the material and characters are, the darker your choices can be… Let the life events you choose be dictated by the material.” (63)

“Choose excellence, vow to practice it consistently, and soon excellence becomes habit.” (88)

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” -Frank Outlaw (91)

“To oversimplify: The Base Human Emotion is an emotion caused by an event that leads the character to perceive the world in a certain way. When he perceives the world in a certain way, he then reacts to the world in a certain way.” (97)

“The interesting thing about Base Human Emotions in characters and in real life relationships is that people will often choose a partner who soothes their Base Human Emotion.” (98)

“Here is where a child will make a choice. He will choose a behavior in order to cope with the situation and his emotions. Will he choose to stay away from those awful bullies and bury his head in the books so that at least the teacher will like him? Or will he choose to be the class cut-up so the other kids will accept him? Choosing a behavior determines a path. One of these chosen paths could produce a world-class physicist. The other might produce a stand-up comic.” (100)

“A character’s behavior, particularly patterns of behavior, are the best indicators of what the Base Human Emotion might be.” (103)

“When your imagination is in full gear, you are drawing from an infinite well, as it were. When we limit ourselves to our own singular experiences, we draw from a finite and limited well.” (105)

“Create events and scenarios, placing yourself – as the character – n this moment and experiencing this event in the present time. Avoid creating the event as if it’s a character memory. Instead, you, as the character, are living in this moment, experiencing the event as it unfolds and all the subsequent emotions that arise from it. You’re not watching this movie – you’re in it.” (106)

“To begin creating the character’s world, start out small and expand. I find it helpful to start out imagining an object that the child is holding in his/her hand. Then my imagination will justify why “I” am holding this object at this particular time.” (110)

“Create for your character fresh, new and imaginative details that are not exact copies of the details from your personal life experiences.” (118)

“Don’t command yourself to “feel” something. Just live in the Emotion with Detail, moment to moment. It’s only then that you will feel. Don’t try to chase the emotion. Anything you chase flies away.” (126)

“We never want to “play at the scene.” Instead, we are able to create nuance and texture in a character by building the life, experiencing the life and then dropping this fully formed life into the circumstances of the scene. Just like real life works.” (193)

“For auditions, read the scene as if you have all the time in the world and are not in fact panicking. Read it from an objective viewpoint, avoiding at all costs thinking about how you’re going to play it. I know that’s hard, but you can do it. Determine what kind of scene this is and what is central to making it work. Is it a relationship scene? A break-up scene? A fight scene? A deep revelation? What’s the relationship that lies at the core of this scene? Is it with a lover? Brother/sister? Parent? Friend? Take time to do some quick Hows of Behavior to determine specific character traits, paying attention to patterns of behavior that emerge. From those patterns, quickly pick a Base Human Emotion, and stick with it. Then build a loose and quick Core KNowledge. Create several brief Emotion with Detail events that explore the central elements you’ve identified.” (199)

“For auditions, ask yourself, “Why did casting choose this scene? To show what aspect for the character? What books this job?” Then choose those aspects of the character to focus your limited time on.” (200)

“Find the emotional differences at the top of the scene versus the end of the scene.” (201)

“Remember that when you are acting, you must be thinking character thoughts rather than personal thoughts during the scene.” (201)

“Take care not to memorize your lines before developing your character.” (201)

“When you memorize lines in a rote fashion, without emotional fuel behind them, prior to character exploration, you are forcing your brain to store those lines in the rote memory section of the brain. This is a different section of the brain than the section that stores images, concepts, and memories to which you are emotionally connected.” (201)

“When you anticipate an emotion, chances are you’ll rarely feel it in the moment.” (204)

“In a Prior Instant, you are literally switching off a personal thought, and switching on a character thought. You can’t think two things at the same time. The Prior Instant is comprised of the precise thoughts and exact words the character is thinking in this moment, as if you’ve spoken the thoughts out loud, yet they are silent. I call this exact character thought, in the character’s own words, a “hard” inner monologue.
If you know exactly what your character is thinking, your mind and body will follow. A Prior Instant gets you out of the gate, so to speak, in exactly the way you need. Just make sure you are not anticipating what is about to happen in the scene; the actor knows what is about to take place, but the character does not.” (205)

“Don’t strive for the perfect take. Just be willing to go on the journey of the character.” (208)

“Think a character thought about anything, and you’ll be back in the scene. You cannot be in two places at one time. So choose to be in the character’s mind rather than in your own head beating yourself up. Seeking to have character-related thoughts at all times during your scene is hugely important. If you think it, camera reads it.” (210)

“All of your research and character work should be done before you set foot on the lot or location… having the character deeply inside you allows you to mold, shape and change on a dime according to what your director says… There’s nothing you can’t do if you have a firm grasp of your character.” (212)

“There is no right choice. Simply give the object an emotional reason to exist. This will help ground you in the moment. For example, the ruge is not just a ruge; it’s the rug your beloved dog used to sleep on at the foot of your bed. Or perhaps it was handed down to you when your sister’s room was redecorated; yours wasn’t, and you resent it. When you give objects an emotional reason to exist, they become clearer in your mind. You have made them specific.” (227)

“Walk into that audition room to give something – never to get something.” (227)

“Think of auditions as collaborative meetings.” (227)

“When it comes to homework on your character, it is most important to know how he or she responds to the other characters in the scene and to look for patterns. Is there a type of person that seems to tweak your character’s Base Human Emotion repeatedly? Or perhaps a certain behavior on the part of another character is always a trigger.” (229)

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“Powerhouse” Quotes

I recently read “Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency” by James Andrew Miller. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, get the book here.

Bill Haber:
“In any business on earth – I always say to people – nobody will ever leave you for money, and nobody will ever leave you over titles. People will only leave if they have no loyalty to you.” (20)

Bill Haber:
“Even though we were all young, we realized that in American capitalism you can’t make any real money unless you own your own company.” (24)

Ron Meyer:
“Once an agent represents a big star like Sly, people believe you know something – even if you don’t.” (122)

Paul Brickman:
“I was impressed by his (Tom Cruise’s) confidence. Once he stopped himself in the middle of a scene, chose a different approach, and started again – a rather bold move for a nineteen-year-old actor.” (138)

“Among the most influential words of advice young Lourd ever got was from his grandfather: When you get a job, be the first one into the office in the morning and the last to leave at night.” (245)

Michael Wright:
“The curse of Salieri is knowing enough to know what great is and recognizing that you’re good at something, but not great.” (283)

“For most of these people, the ones I really respect and like, the currency that matters most is story. It is still about story for these filmmakers. If you walk in with a great story, they don’t care what your job is or your title.” (285)

Bill Haber:
“For any agent, the minute you become more important than your client, your company is finished.” (415)

Peter Guber:
“All change is anxiety provoking – good change or bad change. How you handle that anxiety can shape your clarity around a decision.” (431)

Tom Pollock:
“Mike left because he knew there are good agents and there are old agents, but there are no good old agents.” (457)

Rick Nicita:
“Remember, nobody signs on for a thousand years. Another agent rule is “Every client is leaving you. The only issue is when.”” (493)

David Oyelowo:
“I’ve always felt that my agents are my employees. I pay them a wage whenever I work, and on that basis, they work for me and their job is to help me realize my goals. I think a lot of actors think they work for their agents; they are so happy to have an agent and give too much weight to the direction in which their agent wants their career to go. My goal every day is to outwork my agents so that they are inspired to work harder for me. I don’t think there’s any agent who wants to feel like they have to put dead weight on their back and try and sell it to the world.” (639)

Sam Gores:
“The bigger an agency gets, the more it loses a bit of its focus, and then one day it ends up as just another media business.” (694)

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“Peak” Quotes

I recently read “Peak: Secrets From The New Science of Expertise” by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, get the book here.

“In this new world it no longer makes sense to think of people as born with fixed reserves of potential; instead, potential is an expandable vessel, shaped by the various things we do throughout our lives. Learning isn’t a way of reaching one’s potential but rather a way of developing it.” (xx)

“Sometimes these books leave the impression that heartfelt desire and hard work alone will lead to improved performance – “just keep working at it, and you’ll get there” – and this is wrong. The right sort of practice carried out over a sufficient period of time leads to improvement. Nothing else.” (xxi)

“We live in a world full of people with extraordinary abilities – abilities that from the vantage point of almost any other time in human history would have been deemed impossible.” (7)

“Research has shown that, generally speaking, once a person reaches that level of “acceptable” performance and automaticity, the additional years of “practice” don’t lead to improvement.” (13)

“Purposeful practice has well-defined, specific goals.” (15)

“Purposeful practice is all about putting a bunch of baby steps together to reach a longer-term goal.” (15)

“This is a fundamental truth about any sort of practice: If you never push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you will never improve.” (18)

“Generally the solution is not “try harder” but rather “try differently.””(19)

“In all of my years of research, I have found it is surprisingly rare to get clear evidence in any field that a person has reached some immutable limit on performance. Instead, I’ve found that people more often just give up and stop trying to improve.” (21)

“Purposeful practice in a nutshell: Get outside your comfort zone but do it in a focused way, with clear goals, a plan for reaching those goals, and a way to monitor your progress. Oh, and figure out a way to maintain your motivation. This recipe is an excellent start for anyone who wishes to improve – but it is still just a start.” (22)

“To keep the changes happening, you have to keep upping the ante: run farther, run faster, run uphill. If you don’t keep pushing and pushing and pushing some more, the body will settle into homeostasis, albeit at a different level than before, and you will stop improving.” (40)

“Although the specific details vary from skill to skill, the overall pattern is consistent: Regular training leads to changes in the parts of the brain that are challenged by the training. The brain adapts to these challenges by rewiring itself in ways that increase its ability to carry out the functions required by the challenge.” (45)

“There is no such thing as developing a general skill. You don’t train your memory; you train your memory for strings of digits or for collections of words or for people’s faces. You don’t train to become an athlete; you train to become a gymnast or a sprinter oa marathoner or a swimmer or a basketball player. You don’t train to become a doctor; you train to become a diagnostician or a pathologist or a neurosurgeon. Of course, some people do become overall memory experts or athletes in a number of sports or doctors with a general set of skills, but they do so by training in a number of different areas.” (60)

“The main thing that sets experts apart from the rest of us is that their years of practice have changed the neural circuitry in their brains to produce highly specialized mental representations, which in turn make possible the incredible memory, pattern recognition, problem solving, and other sorts of advanced abilities needed to excel in their particular specialties.” (63)

“The superior organization of information is a theme that appears over and over again in the study of expert performers.” (72)

“The main purpose of deliberate practice is to develop effective mental representations.” (75)

“In every area, some approaches to training are more effective than others.” (85)

“If there is no agreement on what good performance is and no way to tell what changes would improve performance, then it is very difficult – often impossible – to develop effective training methods.” (85)

“You generally find that the best performers are those who have spent the most time in various types of purposeful practice.” (95)

“Nobody develops extraordinary abilities without putting in tremendous amounts of practice.” (96)

“First identify the expert performers, then figure out what they do that makes them so good, then come up with training techniques that allow you to do it, too.” (103)

“Once you’ve identified the expert performers in a field, the next step is to figure out specifically what they do that separates them from other, less accomplished people in the same field, and what training methods helped them get there.” (106)

“Once you have identified an expert, identify what this person does differently from others that could explain the superior performance.” (108)

“But an hour of playing in front of a crowd, where the focus is on delivering the best possible performance at the time, is not the same as an hour of focused, goal-driven practice that is designed to address certain weaknesses and make certain improvement.” (111)

“This distinction between deliberate practice aimed at a particular goal and generic practice is crucial because not every type of practice leads to improved ability.” (111)

“There is no point at which performance maxes out and additional practice does not lead to further improvement.” (113)

“If you are not improving, it’s not because you lack innate talent; it’s because you’re not practicing the right way. Once you understand this, improvement becomes a matter of figuring out what the “right way” is.” (122)

“The distinction between knowledge and skills lies at the heart of the difference between traditional paths toward expertise and the deliberate-practice approach.” (131)

“Deliberate practice, by contrast, focuses solely on performance how to improve it.” (131)

“Professional schools focus on knowledge rather than skills because it is much easier to teach knowledge and then create tests for it.” (137)

“If your mind is wandering or you’re relaxed and just having fun, you probably won’t improve.” (151)

“For the amateurs it was a time to express themselves, to sing away their cares, and to feel the pure joy of singing. For the professionals, the lesson was a time to concentrate on such things as vocal technique and breath control in an effort to improve their singing. There was focus but no joy.” (151)

“Daniel Chambliss concluded that the key to excellence in swimming lay in maintaining close attention to every detail of performance, “each one done correctly, time and again, until excellence in every detail becomes a firmly ingrained habit.”” (153)

“It is better to train at 100 percent effort for less time than at 70 percent effort for a longer period.” (154)

“To effectively practice a skill without a teacher, it helps to keep in mind three Fs: Focus. Feedback. Fix it. Break the skill down into components that you can do repeatedly and analyze effectively, determine your weaknesses, and figure out ways to address them.” (159)

“With writing, he studied the work of experts and tried to reproduce it; when he failed to reproduce it well enough, he would take another look at it and figure out what he had missed so that he would do better the next time.” (160)

“When you first start learning something new, it is normal to see rapid – or at least steady – improvement, and when that improvement stops, it is natural to believe you’ve hit some sort of implacable limit. So you stop trying to move forward, and you settle down to life on that plateau. This is the major reason that people in every area stop improving.” (162)

“The best way to move beyond it is to challenge your brain or your body in a new way.” (163)

“Any reasonably complex skill will involve a variety of components, some of which you will be better at than others. Thus, when you reach a point at which you are having difficulty getting better, it will be just one or two of the components of that skill, not all of them, that are holding you back.” (164)

“With all of this in mind, I suggested to Josh that if he wanted to speed up the pace at which he could memorize the order of a deck of cards, he should try to do it in less time than it normally took and then look to see where his mistakes were coming from.” (164)

“I think that anyone who hopes to improve skill in a particular area should devote an hour or more each day to practice that can be done with full concentration.” (169)

“When you quit something that you had initially wanted to do, it’s because the reasons to stop eventually came to outweigh the reasons to continue. THus, to maintain your motivation you can either strengthen the reasons to keep going or weaken the reasons to quit. Successful motivation efforts generally include both.” (169)

“As long as you recognize this new identity as flowing from the many hours of practice that you devoted to developing your skill, further practice comes to feel more like an investment than an expense.” (172)

“In order to push yourself when you really don’t feel like it, you must believe that you can improve and – particularly for people shooting to become expert performers – that you can rank among the best. The power of such belief is so strong that it can even trump reality.” (172)

“If you stop believing that you can reach a goal, either because you’ve regressed or you’ve plateaued, don’t quit. Make an agreement with yourself that you will do what it takes to get back to where you were or to get beyond the plateau, and then you can quit. You probably won’t.” (173)

“One of the hallmarks of expert performers is that even once they become one of the best at what they do, they still constantly strive to improve their practice techniques and to get better.” (183)

“The creative, the restless, and the driven are not content with the status quo, and they look for ways to move forward, to do things that others have not.” (206)

“Progress is made by those who are working on the frontiers of what is known and what is possible to do, not by those who haven’t put in the effort needed to reach that frontier.” (206)

“People do not stop learning and improving because they have reached some innate limits on their performance; they stop learning and improving because, for whatever reason, they stopped practicing – or never started.” (225)

“In the long run it is the ones who practice more who prevail, not the ones who had some initial advantage in intelligence or some other talent.” (233)

“Since we know that practice is the single most important factor in determining a person’s ultimate achievement in a given domain, it makes sense that if genes do play a role, their role would play out through shaping how likely a person is to engage in deliberate practice or how effective that practice is likely to be.” (238)

“When preparing a lesson plan, determining what a student should be able to do is far more effective than determining what that student should know.” (251)

“The best among us in various areas do not occupy that perch because they were born with some innate talent but rather because they have developed their abilities through years of practice, taking advantage of the adaptability of the human body and brain.” (256)

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