Acting Workshops at FMX – Ed Hooks & Dörthe Eikelberg
It’s been a week since I got back from FMX 2013 in Stuttgart so I’ll catch up on a few of the blog posts I intended to write! The first is about the two main series of acting workshops that went on (Acting for animators by Ed Hooks & Improv workshop for Animators by Dörthe Eikelberg). As an animator these were very important in my decision to go to FMX so I thought I’d do a quick review.
Acting for animators – Ed Hooks workshop
If you haven’t read the book ‘Acting for animators’ I would really recommend it. I’d already read it long before going to FMX and hearing Ed Hooks was going to be there was a big deal for me. This is just a review but I’ll try to post up notes at some point too.
The workshops mainly cover what is in the book and is in the form of to 3 hour long lectures rather than practical acting exercises. So if you already know the book by heart you may not get as much from it as other people. He does include some extra material however and shows video clips as examples which was really interesting. He also answers a lot of questions so it is also an opportunity to ask about specifics.
His personality is huge and I would recommend going if for nothing other than to be entertained! One thing that would have been nice is more practical acting exercises. There were a few cases where he got one or two members of the audience to do an exercise but I think it would have been nice to do more of that.
Improv workshop for Animators
I hope you appreciate this review because I realise you are probably reading it because you are nervous about going!! Well don’t be, it is really relaxed and you can participate as much or as little as you want. You don’t have to be funny, quick or a great actor and Dörthe is really good at warming the group up with simple exercises. Other than the parties, it’s the best way at FMX to meet other animators too so go if only to do that.
The exercises start off really simple, standing in a circle and clapping at one another. Then they gradually start to include repeating action (where somebody in the circle does something and everybody copies it at the same time). Eventually it’s built up for people to work on simple scenes. You’re given a boring scene to perform with a few others, then with suggestions from the audience you do another take of it ‘with a twist’. For example somebody standing in a line at a bank turned from a normal person standing there into somebody sizing the place up to rob it later.
It’s really fun and like I said, you don’t have to do everything. I personally sat out on most of the scene stuff because I didn’t feel ready for it. If I have any suggestions they would be; don’t try or force yourself to be funny, be subtle, feel your motivations and accept what the other people are doing as reality (the “yes and” idea).
In the scene exercises I thought there was too much emphasis on dialog. Animators don’t usually make up dialog so I didn’t think it was entirely relevant. If I were to improve the workshops I would suggest some exercises with pure pantomime (ie no dialog), it may encourage more people to take part too as not everybody can think of what to say quickly enough. Ed Hooks had one exercise that is a good example of this. A simple scene where a king passes a servant. They just gesture to each other and optionally utter a very simple greeting. It was very simple and still allowed for great improv when ‘twists’ were given, such as “the king is on the way to declare war” or “the king is on his way to greet a wagon of whores”. Overall great fun though!