Torry Martin, Rebekah Cook, Brett Varvel, Stacey Bradshaw
Brett Varvel moderated the fifth and final UNDERGROUND discussion on Friday morning at the Christian Worldview Film Festival. Three other actors joined the panel to discuss various aspects of acting from working with the director to getting into character.
After opening with prayer, each panelist gave a brief overview of their background and how God led them to get involved in acting, sharing many fascinating personal anecdotes. Then Brett invited the attendees to jump in with their questions.
One of the first dealt with how to maintain your person integrity when approaching a possibly unethical character.
“There’s a difference between portrayal and actual participation,” Rebekah Cook pointed out. She spoke of the importance of de-roling, and staying in prayer throughout the process.
Stacey Bradshaw advised being careful to know what is involved for your character before taking the job. “Be willing to turn down jobs that conflict with your standards. Never, ever, ever, let yourself be pressured into crossing those lines.”
“And let those standards be known,” Rebekah added.
“There will be overwhelming pressure,” Brett Varvel put in. He shared a story in which he was both actor and director, and struggle to show intimacy with out crossing boundaries. “I didn’t make the discision alone. We gathered in prayer asking God to give us creativity.”
Panelist were also asked specifically what to do when actors are mistreated by the director on set. During his early years of acting, Brett Varvel experienced a harsh director on a commercial set. He asked the Lord to help him respond in a godly way, and it was evident to the rest of the crew that Brett was different because of Christ. Rebekah Cook advised using empathy skills for that director. She also recommended doing research about a project before taking a job. “Has someone you know worked with the people on this project? Was it a good experience? Will they keep their word?”
“You need to know when you’re being abused and when you need to put your foot down,” Stacey Bradshaw stated.
Several of the actors in the audience, including Garry Nation, also shared their experiences in answer to various of the questions raised.
Another question asked for comments about what actors owe to the director and the film. The top things mentioned related to professionalism. Directors appreciate arriving to the set on time and adequately researching your character. Honoring your commitments and being humble and respectful were also listed.
The common phrase, “Honesty is always the best policy,” was illustrated in Rebekah’s story about an actress who gave incorrect measurements to the production wardrobe department. When she arrived on set, her costume didn’t fit! “Also, never say anything on set that you wouldn’t say publicly,” Rebekah continued. “Most of the time, you are being recorded.”
“Never direct your fellow actor,” Torry advised. “And don’t make the AD team come looking for you. Let them know where you are.”
Stacey recommended that actors serve on the crew of a film set first before being cast in a role to gain an appreciation for the crew. She summed it up well when she said, “Be Christ on set, live out your Christian testimony. Actors are to serve the director’s vision.”
Then came, “How do you as an actor deal with being rejected?” Torry aptly replied, “Man’s rejection is God’s protection.” Rebekah reminded everyone that the ratio of castings to the ratio of auditions is usually 1 out of 40. So many factors go into being selected for a film, the panel explained. It’s not personal. The audience was encouraged to always find their indentity in Christ, and respond biblically. It may be that the casting team would have to create a role for you in order to cast you and that’s not always possible. It could be that God is looking out for your health or spiritual well-being also.
“Your identity is not in your acting. Whatever will make the film the best impact for Christ, that’s what you should want.” said Stacey. “Serve Christ wherever you are planted.”