I Will Read (Watch) This Again: Michael Caine on Acting For Film, plus Beating Creative Blocks

Came across a blog post today from Stage 32 featuring a couple of videos that might be of interest to creative types that might want to download them into their brain (see what I did there? A truly terrible attempt at a joke. That’s what you call a first draft, and would cut in editing.)

The first video is a unicorn for me, something I knew existed but has been hard to find. I’ve only ever seen ten minutes of it and was amazed by it: Michael Caine on Acting For Film. THE Michael Caine, teaching actors film techniques, filmed for a British production quite a few years ago. Caught part of it on PBS when I was younger, and even though I am not focused on the acting field, the techniques he displays and his passion for the work are inspiring.

PLUS: It’s easily adapted to directing tips, to screenwriting and storytelling. It would even help you if you are just taking a meeting. Caine advises you to “pick an eye”, and shows why.

But if I’m talking to you, and I don’t blink,
and I just keep on going, and I don’t blink….

He goes into methods for holding focus, grabbing attention, and simple tricks to hit your mark, demonstrating everything. Filmmakers: send this link to your actors. He’s not teaching for stage, but he makes comparisons and you can see those differences yourself and find things that would help whatever your venue, like being smaller or bigger with your performance without upstaging.

I’m not going to delve too far into it, because there’s so much here you will find different things than I do.

The second video is from Actualized.org, covering techniques on How To Overcome Creative Blocks and Writer’s Block. Even if you have writer’s block and you watch it and it doesn’t help you, you can tell yourself you were trying to be productive for thirty minutes and feel better about yourself, right? (I guarantee that’s not in the video, nor is it the best tip ever. But we all do it!)

This clip is a little more valuable than that, though. (Spoiler alert: it starts with commitment.)

Click here for the Stage 32 blog post with the videos

Just do it. No apologies to Nike. Why would you steal such a powerful statement and apply it only to shoes?


P.S. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Michael Caine:


Overcoming Creative Blocks is here:

P.P.S.  I successfully broke my writing addiction when I was younger (don’t do it!) but I still write (just a little less obsessively). Which was probably a mistake. I’ll talk about that another time.

But I always said I never got writer’s block. This is true in one common perception of the term: I don’t run out of ideas. But I do block myself from writing when I should, and that’s an even more insidious issue that I will be addressing with help from sources like this one.

I Will Read (Watch) This Again: Michael Caine on Acting For Film, plus Beating Creative Blocks was originally published on Creative Uploads


Fake It Until You Make It Is Terrible Advice For Artists

What does it even mean? Try hard until you succeed? No, that would be fine. Is it some perverse sexual wordplay? Well, art is art, but no.

So, pretend that you can do something until you do?

That’s great if you’re in an 80’s movie*, but really, if you are trying to make something….

Wait for it.

Please wait, or please do something


It won’t be good. It might be okay. Odds are it will totally suck. Privately, even you might realize it’s crap, or you might think it’s the best thing ever (and that’s great, but honestly this often happens because we are so happy we actually made something! But really we tend to give ourselves extra credit for understanding our artistic process and the subtext.)

So it’s made, but it’s bad. So what? And, so what now?

Simple: Don’t pretend it’s good and stop. Repeat the process. Make something else. Again and again. Again.

Hey wait, that time it was okay. Maybe it even shows a glimmer of something shinier than the sum of its parts. Maybe someone else gets a glimpse of your subtext this time, as you refine your ability to communicate it.

Because we get better with practice, but in the creative field, practice is actually fun. Oh, and hard work at times, but fun.

Faking it doesn’t make anything.

Make it until you don’t feel like you’re faking it. Or until enough others feel that way, depending on how deep you like to breed your artistic angst.


P.S. “In the creative field, practice is actually fun” does not only apply to textbook definitions of creative endeavors. You can draw on creativity, inspiration, delightful random chance, discovery, and whimsy in any situation with excellent results.

Part of that trick is sometimes using creativity more for creation and less for expression (And not with numbers. Don’t get creative with the numbers!). Technique and presentation can come from opposite corners.

I mean, I don’t know what Newton was doing under that apple tree, but an apple fell on his head and he decided to define gravity mathematically. You can’t tell me that’s not creative as hell. And pie. Who came up with apple pie?

And even longer ago:

Do or do not. There is no try.

Or so I have heard.

* I’m thinking Michael J. Fox in “The Secret of My Success” here, not Michael J. Fox in “Bright Lights, Big City,” one of which is funnier (not saying which) but both involve faking it and making it in business, though not in the creative field.

Fake It Until You Make It Is Terrible Advice For Artists was originally published on Creative Uploads

Is A Picture Worth A Thousand Hours?

Creative uploads photo talent practice

Sometimes you just take a picture. It’s a snap. It takes a second and maybe you doubt even give out a lot of thought when you do it.

But does it reflect things you’ve learned and forgotten from the thousands of pictures you’ve taken before, whether loved or ignored? Is it an innate skill grown from casual talent?


Can you be good without being born with “talent”?


Because people that are good at something may have had so-called talent, but really that means they had a drive and curiosity and interest that led them to dedicate time toward playing with and learning and understanding  what they wanted to do.

So take a picture, it will last longer than you think. Even if you never look at it again.


P.S. So for everybody that takes selfies and that’s it, you will get really good at selfies, perhaps accidentally. Unfortunately, it’s hard to make a career out of them because although they are portraits, the self-portrait market doesn’t pay a lot.

Unless you have a sponsor.

Is A Picture Worth A Thousand Hours? was originally published on Creative Uploads

Flashback Photo: My Kid

She put herself in there.

I was a stay-at-home dad for many years, and I can’t think of a better way for a photographer to practice. Now, you don’t want to sleep or have a lot of time to do anything else, do you? At least photography lets you keep a constant eye on children, even if they don’t necessarily get eye contact.

TIP: The kid is low. Shoot low. Who wants to see pictures of the top of cute little heads all the time?

TIP: Learn to aim your camera without looking through the viewfinder.* You can use the rear screen but even better, just learn where it points and learn how to twist your lens between wide medium and closeup and what that means.

This helps you get shots of kids that like to run or duck pictures too.

Also even though I say flashback, try to shoot without the flash out. Kids hate bright light in their eyes. Not just kids. Get natural light and a good look and don’t teach the kid to blink and hide from the camera because it’s uncomfortable.


* Yes, I have said this before, and I hear you say, but how do we learn? Take a bunch of pictures and review them. You do look at your pictures during and after a session don’t you? While the scene is still fresh enough in your mind to learn something from it?

P.S. Use a flash when you need to. Realize you often don’t need to. If it’s really dark or your subject is moving fast in dimmer light, well, that gets tricky doesn’t it…. We had a good run with the mannequin challenge where you could lie and get someone to stand still pretending to shoot video, but that’s so 2016.




Flashback Photo: My Kid was originally published on Creative Uploads