I’m sitting in a beautiful theatre, during Polish film festival in Gdynia, waiting for another film to start. I’m here every year, for whole week, to see what’s going on in Polish cinema. Untill now I’ve seen, among others, oil painted film „Loving Vincent” about Van Gogh, a scientific film „Photon” about evolution of life and DNA since the big bang, about universe chemistry and physics, „Spoor”, very lovely, and dark picture of crime surrounded by animals by Agnieszka Holland, that may get an Oscar, „Panic attack”, a few connected stories about people on the edge of losing control. Very different movies. How is it connected to improv? Just a second.
This festival is strongly connected to my Gdynia Film School, where I was studying directing. I’ve been working with various, very experienced directors, actors, screenwriters, etc. Each of them had own artistic vision and philosophy. And we had exams, where we had to show our films. And during that, all of them were sitting in a row, watching. And giving notes after. You think you would get one answer? No. From the point of view of CRAFT, yes, they mostly agreed. But from the point of ART, you received all different feedback. And even if you’d like to please all of the teachers – it’s impossible.
And that was a great lesson for improv.
I smile silently when I hear that someone thinks he OWNS THE TRUTH. Knows the right way. I also smile silently when I hear that someone plays „slow improv”, because it’s true improv. Only Harold, because it’s The Improv. Or that there is one definition of improv that we all have to follow.
I rise my brows silently, when in the workshop (that I participate, or teach, doesn’t matter) someone comments „But <this cool famous teacher> said this <other thing>”.
What I want to say is HAVE YOUR OWN BRAIN.
You will never satisfy everyone. Nor teachers, nor audience. Most likely in many cases you won’t satisfy yourself. But you should be true, and honest to YOURSELF.
Learn from as many teachers, as you can. Every workshop can show you completely different point of view on the same thing. Every workshop may have points that you agree, and you disagree.
Oh, and please, don’t ever waste your time, and time of other people, to argue with teacher during the class, because you disagree, or other teacher would disagree. Listen. The teacher wants to share her/his point of view. Try it. You didn’t come there to prove your point. Or did you? Walk in those shoes for a moment and feel. Watch yourself in those shoes.
Don’t worship the authorities, no matter how they blow your mind. It’s not a cult. And when it becomes a cult, something is seriously wrong.
You know those teachers, or schools, who say, they own the only True? Or they pretend, other schools and teachers don’t exist? It’s their problem, not yours. Don’t let yourself get trapped. You are free. It’s them who are slaves of their own ideology. Learn from whoever you want. Work with whoever you want. And don’t let anybody to use you for their purpose. You feel dirty after.
Respect the authorities. Respect their experience, their work and their heart for what they do. Don’t be an ignorant. Try to understand their philosophy. They walked a long way to get where they are. They also had to follow someone in the beginning, before they discovered their way, which they are showing to you now.
And then, after you listen, after you understand, filter that through yourself. Your mind, your heart, feel it in your guts. And take with you that part, that feels yours. That inspires you. That is a challenge for you. And adapt it to yourself. And find a way to use it as YOU. Not to adapt yourself to this Famous Style – because you will lose yourself. And then you can drop all the rest. With all the respect.
But do you know what is there to lose? What does it mean to be „yourself”? What do you have to say? Have you ever focused on what is important to you, what drives you, what excites you? What you feel, when you go on stage, how you connect to people, players, audience? Are you ok with yourself? Because it’s easier to follow someone cool, and become like him to be cool, than drop it and accept the way you are. And accepting yourself is the best way to be original, while not TRYING to be Original. We reflect whole our lifes, all cultural background, how we were raised, how we suffered and succeded.
If you want to stick to craft, follow your idols. If you want to be an artist, go your own way.
How can you be an artist, being a copy of someone else?
Picasso said: „Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
But be careful. Don’t get to proud, or you may lose the respect. Never stop learning. As Einstein said: „Once you stop learning, you start dying.”
And now my break is over, I’m going to see a film directed by my lovely professor, Robert Gliński, to see his philosophy of film. I took some great lessons from him.
PS And all the above is what I think. Listen. Think about it. Filter through yourself. Take what you want. Drop the rest.