DeBlogs > Tyler Esselman
I can’t stop thinking about the movie Whiplash. By now, many of you out there have probably at least heard of it. For those of you who haven’t, Whiplash is a remarkable film about a young jazz drummer at the nation’s top music conservatory being pushed to the limit by a supremely demanding conductor at the school. It’s such a beautifully done film; masterfully acted, shot, and edited. And it asks an important question: what makes the great artists truly great?
As I inch ever closer to graduation, the constant daydreaming about what kind of work I want to do as an artist and human being is becoming ever more pressing. I’m in a really fortunate position, I can pretty much go anywhere and do anything I want, but it’s tough to figure out what my path will be. I know what I value and I know the kind of people I want to work with, but it’s a matter of putting myself in a position that will allow me to be free to do exactly the kind of work I want to do.
One of my immediate goals is to continue to do a great deal of quality classical work, both Shakespeare and otherwise. Thus far the performances I have done that I enjoy the most and from which I learn the most have been performing Shakespeare. I’m going to continue on this track because I believe that if you can perform classical text well, you can do it all well. It’s also becoming more and more of a desire of mine to write and produce some killer short films with my buddy. I’ve been learning more about what it actually takes to produce a film and it seems like something we can actually do. I have no doubt that we can make some honest, personal films and I want to get it done! The wheels are turning!
In Whiplash, our protagonist takes to heart the idea that the great jazz musicians in history became great because they were relentless and never, ever took no for an answer. While I think one has to take care of themselves and have a healthy separation from their work, I do think that it is so important to go after artistic pursuits with single-minded determination. It’s the only way and that’s how I plan on working from this point on.
Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
I saw The Districts on Seth Meyers this past week. Great energy and killer sound for such a young band. I mean, come on! They just graduated HIGH SCHOOL!
This quarter, my class has a tandem of two weekly classes at the Acting Studio Chicago. The Acting Studio is a center for classes focused in acting technique and also the business side of the entertainment industry in Chicago. The classes we are taking are an acting for the camera class and also an audition technique class. They present an interesting one-two punch every week introducing every week to what it might really be like to work as an actor in Chicago.
In acting for the camera, we go through scenarios every week that resemble an actual on-camera audition that we would go on. We read commercial copy and learn how to most effectively use our training to make this sometimes dry text unique to us and boil down what will help us get callbacks on these auditions. It’s a subtle technique and looking at yourself on the screen once we’ve filmed the segments is very weird at first. I’m getting more used to it with each class but it can make you pretty self-conscious. It really just comes down to practice, I think. Doing this kind of material is something very few people in my class have ever done but we’re getting better. In addition to reading copy, we’ve gone through scenarios for auditions with no written text and worked in pairs. We are certainly getting an advantage because so many other actors our age not coming out of a program such as ours don’t have this opportunity to learn the industry and the technique before jumping in to an audition.
Speaking of auditioning, our audition class on Fridays is an extension of the audition class we had last quarter. We are learning what it takes to get in the door with agents and do our best work when we get in the room for those auditions. I guess the biggest thing that I’m taking from all of it is that there is no right way to do it, really. The most important thing to me is that I don’t feel like I’m compromising any part of myself to get work that I think I “should” get or “have” to get. I want to and will do it my way and I am confident that, because of that, I will do the work that I want to do. Rock on, amirite?
Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:Say what you will about Beck, but the dude can really write a jam.
This week is "Towers" by Bon Iver. My favorite song off their self-titled second album. I could listen to it any time, any day.