1:1 Intro: 3:45
Hello and welcome to season 1 episode 1 of the BLS acting tutorial. I am your host, Braden Lynch. My aim is to give you more tools for understanding material, connecting to material, and handling performance situations. And why should you take what I have to say seriously? Start with the fact that I’m a working actor in LA and I’ve been a coach here since 2006, then listen to this video and maybe a couple more free ones and decide for yourself.
Also, let me go ahead and address two arguments that I commonly hear from people who don’t want to learn this stuff. Arguments that I hope were quelled in you by the promo video if they were there to begin with. 1. “I don’t need technique, I just use my instinct. I read the material and I feel so much.” That’s wonderful, it really is, but you’ve got two problems. 1 it’s not enough: think about it like this: you feel something reading about a character losing a loved one, great. if you actually watch someone lose a loved one, you’ll feel more. and if you lose a loved one, you’re gonna feel far more than that. 2 the instinct feeling won’t last. By the time you memorize, and you must memorize if you want a serious career, that instinct will have been spent. The second argument I commonly hear is “Technique gets me in my head.” Yeah, it will, for a time. Ask any musician, any juggler, any yogi. When learning a new skill, you’re gonna be in your head for a bit, and then eventually you won’t. It takes time to be great.
And now, before we jump in, there are a few really important things that I want to cover so that we can be on the same page. Number one, Number two, the myth of inborn talent, the X factor. The idea that some people just have it and some don’t. Wherever you think you are on that spectrum of talent, don’t fall for this idea. Acting, like everything else in the world, is a learnable skill. Now I may be preaching to the choir here since you’re watching an acting tutorial in the first place, but I still want to lock this in because the myth exists in all of our heads, society has put it there, and it can have a huge effect on how much work you put in to move forward. The truth is that the people who work hard and smart always end up becoming greater than the ones who take their talent for granted. I see it all the time.
Second, this work requires a balance between intellect and emotion, there are some actors who love the emotional but avoid the intellectual, their scenes are deep and emotive but usually wrong, and provably so, some other actors love the intellectual but not the emotional, their performances tend to be in the right direction but empty and/or fake. Gotta have both. And the emotion needs to be real. Sometimes it’s painful, most great performances are.
Third. the construction of this technique is really simple which, I think, is what makes accessible to absolutely everyone, while the execution of it can be delightfully intricate, which is what I get excited about. For this entire first season, I’m going to keep things as simple as I can, we’ll get into the intricate stuff in later seasons.
Fourth, this technique is based on human psychology, there’s nothing vague or inexplicable or overtly artsy about it, there’s no “feel the moment” type stuff that no one I’ve ever spoken to has been able to explain satisfactorily, everything is definable and very understandable, because it comes from how everyone single one of us behaves in real life on a daily basis. And you will understand it, it just might take a while for you to be able to apply it well, but once you can, you will blow your old self out of the water along with anyone else who doesn’t have a real or complete technique.
Lastly, I want to make sure you understand what it means to be an actor. There is the deeper, “moving audiences” “connecting people to their empathy” “making people laugh” “art” piece of it, that should, I think, be the deeper ideal, but more immediate is the fact that your job quite literally is to help a writer tell a story by fitting yourself into a specific slot. Every role is asking for something specific, you can’t just do whatever you want, you have to figure out what they want and then be artful inside that space.
So now on to episode 2 where we’re gonna talk about what I consider to be the basics and P.S. what I consider to be the basics is usually far more than what most people consider to be the basics, so even if you think you know the basics, don’t skip it. I’ll see you there.
1:2 BASICS: 7:30
Hello and welcome to season 1 episode 2 of the BLS acting tutorial. I am your host, Braden Lynch.
So, let’s go. To prove to you that this technique comes from real life, let’s take a really simple example from the life of an actor: getting an audition. email on monday, audition weds, shoots friday, you check it out, great people attached, really cool project, challenging audition material, all in all, you really want to book it. so you work on it monday, have someone over to run the lines, tuesday you schedule a coaching and then go and get coached, wednesday you audition, thursday, you’re hoping for some feedback from whomever, friday you find out. okay?
during this week, this event in your life, you’re going to be having all kinds of thoughts and feelings, right? Now. there’s going to be someone else who gets that same audition who’s gonna have completely different thoughts and feelings about it.
and the reason why starts with what I call the relevant history which is exactly what it sounds like: all those things in your history that are relevant to this event in your life: your history with acting in general, with auditions, with this casting director, with this kind of project, with the type of scene that you’re auditioning with, the list goes on, with both conscious and subconscious memories, right? the reason that you and this other actor don’t feel the same about it all is simply because your relevant histories are very different. you love this casting director, they don’t, you love this kind of project, they’d rather do something else, this kind of scene challenges you, it bores them, right? The same is true with how you may get really excited about one audition but want to pass on another, your relevant histories between the two are different.
Okay? that’s the first element that influences your behavior, relevant history. the second is what you start imagining the future might hold. you, being the person who really wants to do this project, might start thinking about how amazing it would be to film this, work with these people, what it would do for your career and your finances, blah blah blah. that other actor might start thinking about how miserable they would be if they booked it, cuz their ex is already attached and it’s a fantasy film and they hate that kind of stuff, whatever, I don’t know. but you can see how the differences in your relevant histories set up very different potential futures and so your behavior will be very different even though you’re going through the same event. again, the same is true when you get an audition that your excited about vs one you’d rather pass on: the differences in the relevant histories will set up in your mind different potential futures which make you behave differently.
Okay. So those two elements - relevant history and potential future - put you in a certain headspace for pretty much that whole week, right, I mean, you might have certain moments where you’re free of it, but it’s pretty much there the whole time especially if it’s a big deal. it may be stronger or weaker at times, it may change subtly depending on how it’s going, but it’s there.
now, the next element. you’re in this headspace, and in walks the person who’s gonna run lines with you, I want you to pick somebody, absolutely anybody doesn’t have to make sense, that person’s gonna run the lines with you. while you’re in this headspace, you feel a very specific way about them, don’tcha? now if you pick someone else entirely, go ahead and do that… same thing, while you’re in this headspace, you feel a very specific way about this other person, which is probably pretty different from the first person. so that’s the third element, called the emotional relationship. just exactly who is this person to you and how do you feel about them.
now. when you’re in that headspace, and that person walks in, what happens in real life and so also in this technique, is that you want something from them. you want them to help you run lines, maybe you want them to stop screwing around, to stop telling you how to do it, to have fun with you, could be one of a lot of things, but it pretty much always boils down to just one main thing in your head, and whatever that is -run these lines with lines with me, stop screwing around, anything in that kind of format- we call that the objective and that’s what the scene is all about.
These four elements, relevant history, potential futures, emotional relationship and objective, are the basis of we behave in every moment of our lives and in the next episode we’ll go over how to properly use them.
See you there.
1:3 Investigation & Connection: 6:45
Hello and welcome to season 1 episode 3 of the BLS acting tutorial. I am your host, Braden Lynch.
So, we’ve got a basic handle on the four elements that go into every conversation we have in real life. How does that apply to acting? Three main steps: the investigation (what is the writer asking of you, what is going on in this scene and with your character), the connection (how are you going to get yourself into your character and into that scene, their emotional life, all that stuff, authentically — no fake crying or any other fakery) and the execution (actually doing the scene in a coaching, audition, on set, etc.).
So the investigation: again, I can spend a lot of time talking about this and there are some scenes where you should spend a lot of time figuring out what’s going on, cuz if you don’t you’ll be way off in your performance, for now I’m going to keep it simple. Stay out of the scene, don’t start saying your lines yet, you have no idea what’s going on so you have no idea how they should be said and you don’t want to start putting the blinders on. Read it like you’re reading a book about other people. Pay attention to where your character is, when, what is said, when it’s said, how everyone seems to feel about everything and everyone else. Find every clue that you can and put all of them together so you can paint the most comprehensive picture possible of exactly and specifically what’s going on.
If we go again with the example of the audition, you and that other actor have very different experiences, and you have different experiences from audition to audition. Some you love, some you’re pretty happy with, some are confusing afterwards, some are just kinda bad, some are terrible experiences. If you get an audition where you’re playing an actor going on an audition, you can’t just say “oh i’ve been on auditions before, i know what this is like,” nah. this character is having a very specific experience with this audition, you have to figure out what that is, that’s what you’re aiming for, otherwise you’re shooting in the dark because their experience could be so many different things.
K? Once you’ve got that all figured out like a detective would figure it out, you move on to step two: figuring how you’re going to put yourself into that emotional space, what you’re going to be thinking about. there are three sort of categories that you can pull from, and they come from what makes us feel emotions in real life: one: you get a gift you’ve been dying for, you feel happy: real life events make us feel things, this concept is not rocket science. Two: you’re worried that you’re gonna be fired: we feel things when we apply imaginary circumstances to our real lives. Three: most of us were once scared of the monster under the bed or in the closet: so completely imaginary things can make us feel.
So, let’s say your character just received a gift they’ve been dying for, let’s keep it as simple as that, and figure out how we can get connected. real life: if you have you’ve ever received an incredible gift and the thought of it makes you start to feel a little something, that’s a possible choice. imagined circumstances applied to life: if there is a gift you would currently love to receive and the thought of it makes you start to feel something, that’s a possible choice. Full imagination: make something up that would be the coolest thing ever to own, it doesn’t even have to be realistic, pick a space ship for all I care, as long as you want it, that can be a viable choice.
So real life, imagination applied to real life, and full imagination. Now, there are three things you want to keep in mind when making these choices: be personal, specific, and brave. Personal means don't choose things that you don't care about. Specific means don't just say “it’s like a friend says something rude,” no, know exactly which friend and exactly what the rude thing is. And brave means that you should use choices that scare you sometimes, choices that you might not even want to tell people about. But a quick word to the wise, some choices are too strong or two recent for some people. If you’ve suffered a death in the past few days, I would be very hesitant to recommend using that as a choice. This is different for every person but know that there is a line in each of us, so exercise caution.
Now, last thing here: some actors and acting coaches believe that you should only use your real life, ever. Some will say only imagination, ever. The fact that there are great actors on both sides of that argument should tell you that both of them work. It all works. And anyone who tells you that one of them doesn’t simply doesn’t know how to do it. You just have to figure out what works for you. And since sometimes you won’t have the time required to fully build something from your imagination, and sometimes the material will involve something that none of your experiences can compare to, it’s in your best interest to cultivate all three of them so that you can use any of them.
Next we’re gonna go into how to actually get into these emotional spaces. And again we’re going to do it authentically. Let me harp on this again: you must do your best to never fake it. To never fake anything in this work. Yes, there are actors who have booked work after faking it in the audition and some who fake it for the final product, there are even some coaches who think it all should be faked, but the audience can almost always spot a faker, and really, what kind of actor do you want to be? I’ll see you on the next episode.
1:4 INNER MOVIES 7:30
Hello and welcome to season 1 episode 4 of the BLS acting tutorial. I am your host, Braden Lynch.
I want you to think of three things: a place that makes you feel at peace, a living person or animal who helps you feel calm, and a food (probably a dessert or drink) that relaxes you. Pause it here if you need a moment to decide on what these things are for you…
Now that you have it, I’d like you to close your eyes for a moment, seriously, close your eyes, we’re going to do a quick emotional exercise, and eyes closed is easiest for most people. I’m also gonna go away here so you’re not tempted to stare at my beautiful beard. with your eyes closed, I want you to imagine yourself in a black, unmade space where nothing exists but you. Not in a scary way, just in the way that we haven’t built the world around you yet. And imagine that a spotlight comes on above you, illuminating around your feet a small circle of the ground of your peaceful place, just a little bit of that grass or sand or carpet or whatever it is. See what it looks like as specifically as you can. See what it feels like under your feet. See if you can hear what it sounds like if you move your feet. When that feels real for you, let that circle expand out to the boundaries of this place, whether that’s a wall or the horizon, then expand that boundary up and in until either the sky or ceiling encloses above you. Now build anything else that’s supposed to be here: plants, buildings, furniture. Take a deep breath. See if you can feel the temperature, maybe the sun is warming you, maybe there’s a cool breeze. See what there is to hear in this space, water, wind, animals, music, maybe it’s just silent. See if you can smell the space. And know that in this space, nothing is wrong, there is nothing to worry about. Everything is as it should be. And now, add a your person or animal. See them as specifically as you can, see that they are very tired, and include some kind of physical interaction them. Feel their skin or fur on your fingers, feel their hand on your shoulder, anything like that and want them to know that they’re safe to sleep here. See that they are unsure, and just ease them into rest. Their head on your shoulder or lap or on the ground. See them rest. And now take a moment to see if you can taste that dessert or drink. Feel it. Take another deep breath.
And open your eyes. So that’s one of the simplest examples of an inner movie. If you went through all that, chances are you felt at the very least, the beginnings of peace or maybe something else if your choices weren’t actually peaceful for you. You can go further in that direction or you can go anywhere else. You can trigger any emotion whatsoever through movies like these and that’s because the subconscious doesn’t know the difference between reality and imagination. That's why imagining getting fired makes you feel something. These things are not actually happening but the emotional center of the brain does not know that.
So here are the important points: starting simple (like in the black unmade space), taking your time to settle into the place and the moment, exploring all the appropriate senses — touch especially as it forces you into a first person point of view so that you’re in the moment instead of just watching it happen — then, don’t plan exactly what's going to happen from moment to moment but instead allow your imagination do the work, and lastly include an objective, what you want that other person to do.
Building Inner Movies is an incredibly important part of the work and let me talk about two things real quick. First thing. I have encountered a large number of people who are scared of this part of the work because they think they will manifest these things in their real lives. that if they fully commit to visualizing their dog being hit by a car, their dog will be hit by a car because that’s how the universe works, that we can manifest these things. if this is you, allow me reassure you that you need not worry about that. it’s simply not true, if it were true, all of my loved ones, and every loved one of every client I’ve ever had, would be so very dead. and they’re not.
Second thing.. a note about Journaling. Too many times, I've heard actors say, “I journal about my character.” When I ask what kinds of things they write about, they say things like, “I was born Florida in 1985, my mother’s name was Joan, my father's name was Harry, I had a pretty normal childhood my best friend's name was Kenneth blah blah blah a bunch of boring emotionless tedium that does nothing for their emotional understanding of character. Now I'm not saying don't do this kind of journaling, I'm saying don't only do this kind of journaling. If you're going to Journal, do it so that makes you emotional.
Viola Davis in the movie Doubt? in which she had seven straight heart-breaking minutes of screen time that earned her an Oscar nomination? I asked her afterwards about her process. She didn’t have a child like her character did, she didn’t substitute a nephew or anything like that, she wrote a 50 page bio on her character. 50 pages for seven minutes of screen time. That's more work than most actors put in for the entire two hours of being the lead of a film. And that is why she her performance was so compelling and full, Because she treated her character as having an entire life, very different from her own, because all Viola cares about is being good. And I can guarantee you that that journal bore witness to her tears, her laughter, her rage, the full spectrum of authentic emotions because she was writing emotionally and visualizing all of it. There's no way that her performance came from “my son was born on March 5 at whatever hospital and I named him this and his favorite color is orange, and blah blah. No She absolutely wrote something like “holding my son in my arms for the first time shook my world his skin was so impossibly soft his eyes impossibly big, he was absolutely helpless but he trusted me completely. He was immediately the best thing that ever happened to me, and I knew I had to do whatever I could to give him a good life, even though I knew that I had brought him into a world that wouldn’t be fair to him.”
If you're going to Journal, journal like Viola Davis. Get connected to real emotions.
Next up we’re talking about exploring. See you there.
1:5 WHEN ALL THE WORK IS DONE
So you’ve done your investigation and your connection work, you’ve run the scene a couple times and feel like it’s ready to go. If you stop there, you risk becoming a few things: undirectable -which casting directors and directors don’t like so much- robotic where each line comes out the way it’s always come out, which is boring as hell to watch, and emotionless where your triggers (your inner movies) just won’t work.
So before any of that happens, don't be done yet. what if there's a better way? more interesting way? What if you missed something? What if it’s how you always do this kind of scene or how everyone else is gonna do it? Don’t get stuck in your first choice, and for God’s sake, don’t run the scene a thousand times in the exact same way, that’s what we call over-rehearsing and it’s baaaaddd. Explore. Look for other clues or put them together in new ways, change any of the four elements, change how you’re getting connected. Screw it, just do the scene laughing one time, or bored, or flirt the whole time, it might be wrong, it might be fake which is okay when exploring, but you might find something that works that you can go back and justify through the technique. Exploring like this will provide you with a deeper understanding of the character and the material, and it will be much more difficult to fall into being a stuck, emotionless robot.
And then, when the moment comes, whether it’s in a class or an audition or on set, don’t go after giving a certain performance, that’ll put your focus on you and the piece will suffer. Go after putting yourself in a mental emotional space and then getting the other person to do what you want them to do. Focus on them. You always want to focus on the other person or the environment that you’re in, whether you’re looking at them or not, that’s what your brain should be thinking about, not about the lines or your voice or your body, but them. This whole technique is designed to get you not thinking about yourself, which means don’t write down adjectives about your character or about how to say lines, the script will do that, you don’t. You should use the script ones as guidelines, but if it says annoyed on a line, don’t play annoyed, it’s like playing sad, it’s fake. You gotta make the other person annoying, and/or have a thought go off like “shut the hell up” when you say the line.
In fact, try this: just look at me or look at anything or anyone around you and think or say I'm angry at you. just over and over again out loud, quietly if you need to, and put a little sauce on it, okay, it’s a little manufactured, but just try it. I'm angry at you I'm angry at you I'm angry at you. Okay so that feels a certain way to you. Now look at that same person or thing, and let it be, “you need to freaking stop” over again, with sauce, right? you need to freaking stop, you need to freaking stop, you need to freaking stop. That should feel a totally different way, and the difference between those two feelings is the difference between being focused on yourself -I am angry- and being focused on them -you need to stop. it's all the difference in the world and it’s what this technique aims to achieve.
So you’ve done all your work, you’ve explored a bunch, you've decided what you want to aim for, so you give yourself a trigger into the top of the scene, and you trust that work and deal with what’s in front of you. You don’t deal with your performance, you don’t deal with the scene, you deal with them.
So that is the end of what is affectively season one of this tutorial. Season 2, where I go in-depth on all these elements as well as few more things, is available now at Udemy.com, you can either follow the link in the description or just visit Udemy and search for BLS. More seasons will be dropping in the future or may have dropped depending on when you're watching this video. if you would like to be notified as to when they as well as some other free videos here are dropped, just subscribe to this channel. If you would like to work with me, whether in-person or over video chat, feel free to send me an email. Whatever the case, put in the time, put in the work, and not only will your chances of booking jobs skyrocket, but so will your chances of being great.