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Showcase: Thinning The Herd

January 15, 2008

Alright, I know this is by a fairly known actress and I know she may have had a budget to do it, but that doesn’t cancel out the fact that the same film could definitely be made with no money.  Just take a look at the film, there’s very little light, hardly any makeup, the film’s strong points are its intangible ones: the acting and the writing.  (The sound effects and the ending only raise the bar).  With some dedicated writing time, a few redrafts, and a day of shooting with some actor friends and you’ve got yourself set on the way to a film like this.

I recently saw Angel-A, which stars Rie Rasmussen, and I was surprised to discover it was her at the end of the film, since she looks nothing in that film like she does in Thinning The Herd.  That’s partly the costume and makeup, but the acting is definitely there in both parts, separating her characters immensely.  The main point I want to make in this post is that good acting, with or without dialog, is one of the key assets in any film.  As long as the writing’s good, the acting can pull it through with no budget at all.  If someone’s performance shines, it’ll shine out no matter the visual constraints.  (Obviously, you’ve got to do your best to help it shine, throw some oil on the flame and the like, make sure it can be seen to start with).

Essentially, the point is this: write a solid script with a basic storyline, a some characters that aren’t too simple (give them habits, dialects, things they like the most and play off those in the dialog or actions with the other characters), and then find someone who can portray that character in the way you like, with their own spin on it as well.  Always let the actors take the character to their own level, in addition to fulfilling your needs.  They need to be challenged, not typecast and factory-assembled into their characters.  That’s destructive to the very nature of acting.

Back to the point, after you’ve written your solid script, and found someone to act, find money if you can, and some kind of light, and something to bounce that light off of (you’ll rarely want the harsh light coming right from the work light you found).  Tin foil works great.  After that, let the light and the performance shine as your camera rolls and captures the whole thing from the angles you’ve pre-planned due to your careful thoughts on the project (do not leave that part out!)

Rie Rasmussen might have a name in the business; she might be known for doing a good job in her projects; she might even be known for being a sexy bitch; but you can make yourself known by making something with a solid base and the only frills being the talent that brings the idea to the screen.  Best of luck, check out the film and send in any of your work you want an article written about!

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