Jack C Newell is director of the films Close Quarters, How to Build a School in Haiti and Open Tables. He is head of TV, Film & Digital at the Second City Training Center and a graduate of Columbia College Chicago in film/video. We talk about using improv to make movies, the job of the director and his latest feature which seamlessly weaves improv into the fabric of the film.
Improvisors often go through a stage where they do nothing but improvise. Every night of the week they are going to classes or rehearsals, they are seeing improv shows or performing in ones themselves. This focus on improvisation can lead to great strides in their skill and knowledge of improvisational theater, but it can also insulate them. If our job as artists is to bring the truth of our lives on stage and all we know is the truth we see in other improv shows, we do not have much to offer an audience. To be great we must be seeking out experiences so we have something interesting to share.
Here is a list of things I think improvisors should spend their time doing besides improvising:
Learn to act – some people are actors before they come to improv. Many are not. These days many improvisors start by going to see an improv show and signing up for a class with no prior experience performing. There is nothing wrong with that, but if you don’t have training as an actor and you want to be great, get some. And take opportunities to act, especially in plays, but also in video projects, sketch shows, etc.
Go to the theater – don’t just watch improv shows, get out to the regular theater and watch some plays. You might not think of yourself as a fan of theater. Get out there and see a variety of plays, contemporary plays, classic plays, Shakespeare, original plays and one person shows. You will get some great ideas for characters, situations and techniques to use in your shows. Continue reading “10 things improvisors should do besides improvise”
I tend to have about 60-70 podcasts on my iPod these days waiting for me to listen to them. One of the happy accidents of this is that I often hear interviews about movies after I’ve actually seen a film (instead of during the promotional run up to the film). So this morning, as I was doing my morning run, I got to hear two interviews related to the new movie Up In The Air..
The first interview is with the author of the novel on which it’s based, Walter Kirn. Recorded in 2001, Kirn talks about the genesis of the novel and what he thinks about “air world”, the setting for the book. The second interview was with the director, Jason Reitman, who also directed Juno in 2007. He talks about his own experiences with air travel, getting George Clooney to do the film and the interviews with real people who have lost their jobs which frame and punctuate the movie.