Welcome to Sophie’s Space ….
A pinch of sky arts, a pot of better films, a season of good drama- a recipe for a more cultured performance?
I have always been a bit of a movie geek if I’m being honest. I watch a hell of a lot of films. (Something that didn’t do me any good during exam period) I’m not particularly fussy either, give me a movie and I’ll give it a go- whether I’ll enjoy it or not is another story. Simply watching films isn’t always enough though, sometimes I get sudden urges at 3am to watch as many Quentin Tarantino interviews as I can before I fall asleep or to read “30 things you didn’t know about Dallas Buyers Club”. The list goes on. But yes Sophie, back to the topic. Basically, although watching many films didn’t help me with studying, it helped an awful lot in pace and on stage.
I’ve always been fascinated at the way a normal person, with a life they live as themselves, can transform into a character that audiences all over the world can sympathise with or fear or love. However, instead of appreciating this factor by watching the transformation in badly acted teen movies with the same predictable storylines and trashy reality TV shows. Switch them for a little bit of foreign drama and films that have been recommended on blogs.
I used to have this idea in my head that movies and TV programmes recommended in the space would be difficult to understand, to intelligent for me. I was so wrong. Yes some may push your mind further and force you to think a little more than what you may (or may not) be used to. But those are the films that do you the world of good. You’re mind continues to creatively and culturally expand and it won’t stop until we allow it to do so. I know it can seem daunting to go out and find “cultural films” but they don’t always have to be the films that seem the most different- they can be found much nearer than you think. Have a glance through things like Netflix and watch a few- watching is the only way you’ll benefit.
I’ve been watching a lot of Quentin Tarantino lately. He’s director and actor. Well to be honest he’s not a great actor but he features in all of his own films and gets away with it due to his quirk. I don’t know what it is, there’s just something about him and his films that get me so attached to the characters and so enthralled in the action. In fact, I do know what it is- it’s the pure quirk. To put it frankly, I absolutely adore him. The repetitive camera shots on women’s feet, the beautiful soundtracks, weird and wonderful characters and of course the fantastic scripts he writes. Tarantino isn’t for everyone and his films are easy to understand but he adds little gems into his films that allow you to think outside the simple storylines. In terms of pushing boundaries with movie watching- he’s a good way to start.
The first foreign film I watched that was recommended to me was “The hunt”- a Danish film, in which a teachers life is shattered when his very young student accuses him of peadophelia. An excellent film, with a hard hitting plot, fantastic acting and of course-subtitles. I was incredibly surprised when I watched this film. I expected to be bored reading from a screen and confused not understand the language. However, I found myself drawn in after honestly about 5 minutes. One thing I would suggest, get together with a friend or group of friends and watch a bunch of foreign movies together. It adds to the experience and makes sure you don’t end up deciding to just not watch them after all.
Making the leap into allowing yourself to expand your mind culturally through television and cinema, if anything, allows you to feel more part of it in the room. Well for me it certainly did. I felt I finally was more able to participate in discussions concerning many different topics- purely because my mind was being continually widened. As for on stage, the ability of being more open diminished many barriers and has helped me come into my own on stage a lot more and hopefully will continue to do so. Also, even watching the techniques of good actors in films allows us to learn from them and apply them to ourselves.
I watched a movie recently that really caught my attention in more ways than one. It was a Scottish film called “Filth”, whom the lead character Bruce was portrayed by ex-PACE member and fantastic Scottish actor, James McAvoy. Hilarious, thrilling, thought provoking and strangely satisfying. The movie concerns a somewhat arrogant yet extremely mentally troubled police officer who is desperately trying to get a promotion. Doesn’t sound like much I know but that simple plot is a seed that sporadically grows into so much more. It is a bit of a strange one and it does contain it’s fair share of adult scenes/themes (just warning) but it instantly became one of my favourite films. Knowing that James McCoy went to PACE made me wonder. Did he watch films and television that helped him create a more well rounded performance? Most likely. And here I was watching him, doing the same thing. His background almost made it easier to take from the film and I have seen very few Scottish films that I rate in any way so it was wonderful to find another. Makes you feel strangely proud I guess. But yes, I strongly recommend the film, found on Netflix. Without giving to much away, I promise the ending tops it all off- incredibly satisfying and excellently done. (I watched the last 3 minutes at least 4 times over afterwards).
Without the magic of television and cinema, the world wouldn’t be the same. Although we have the chances of exploring the world and its crazy aspects when we grow older, as teenagers and children we are unfortunately restricted to what we know in our small little worlds, to an extent. So they allow us to see parts of the world we have never seen before. They allow us to witness “unrealistic” love stories, that in fact are incredibly realistic. They allow us to be transported to worlds we won’t be able to witness at any age. And for that short period of time, they allow us to forget about our worries in reality and become engrossed in the tales created for our senses. I will be eternally grateful for the way switching to more worthwhile cinema and television has improved my work on stage and in the room and will hopefully will do so in the future.
I’ve put together a small list of some movies that helped me and will hopefully be of good use to you:
Silence of the lambs
12 years a slave
If you watch any, please tell me what you think, I’d really love to discuss.