Category: How To

Signs You May Not Be A Very Good Actor

Actors make their livings by pretending to be other people. The characters they play often have different opinions, different lives, different feelings, and – unless the actor is very famous and producing the movie themselves – a love interest that is NOT played by their significant other. That’s no problem for a very good actor. He or she just puts on their game face for the duration of the scene and takes it off again when it’s over. For bad actors, things aren’t so easy. How can you tell whether you’re a good one or a bad one? Look for these signs.

  • If you find yourself continually breaking up with your current significant others to date your on-screen love interests, you may not be a very good actor. Very good actors can tell the difference between fake love and real love.
  • If you start to notice that all your roles are basically you in different outfits, you may not be a very good actor. Very good actors like to mix up their roles, broaden their creative horizons, and try new things.
  • If you have been asked to degrade yourself on a reality television show (Dancing With the Stars, Celebrity Apprentice, etc.), and you have accepted, you may not be a very good actor. Very good actors don’t have the time to be in reality television shows, nor the inclination to be listed alongside such names as Gary Busey and “that guy that got kicked off of the Bachelorette that time.”
  • If you can buy DVD copies of all of your recently released movies from the dollar bins at discount department stores, you’re probably not a very good actor. Barring random flops, only the oldest movies made by very good actors end up in the cheapie bins unless they’re used.
  • If you get more face time on talk shows and celebrity “news” magazine covers talking about your personal life than you do in your acting gigs, you may not be a very good actor. Very good actors tend to like to keep their private lives separate from their work. What you are is a celebrity.
  • If you notice that people in the audience members at your film’s test screenings and premieres tend to roll their eyes or make snorting noises whenever you’re performing a very serious scene, you may not be a very good actor. In fact, you’re almost certainly not a good actor, unless the screening is for sufferers of Tourette’s Syndrome.
  • If you find that directors are taking away scenes where you’re meant to give significant looks and replacing them with dialogue along the lines of “I feel so sad!” then you’re probably not a very good actor. Directors tend to trust very good actors to get emotions across without speaking.
  • If you notice that your audition process tends to involve more shirt removals than speaking, you’re probably not a good actor. They just want you for your body.
  • And finally: if you go online to read articles like this, hoping they’ll say even one thing that doesn’t sound like you so you can convince yourself you’re not like those other losers, you’re probably not a very good actor!

Sorry. Maybe you should become a dental hygienist instead.

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How to Have Helpful Opinions

For a lot of people, reviewing a movie begins and ends with the phrases: “it sucked” and “it was awesome.” However, even if you’re just talking to your friends, this information isn’t enough to help them make a decision. After all, everyone has different opinions and expectations. What you thought was awesome might suck to someone else.

You might think you’re not capable of forming a more complex and helpful opinion if you don’t know about three act structures or two shots, but insider knowledge isn’t necessary to be an amateur movie critic. All you have to do is take a second to think about how the movie made you feel, and then use the following decoder to translate it into something helpful. Observe.

I was bored — usually means — the pace was too slow for me.

It blew my mind — usually means — the movie was based on an innovative idea.

I hate character x — usually means — it was hard to identify with the characters.

It was so cute — usually means — the actors had great chemistry.

It was stupid — usually means — the world rules weren’t close enough to reality for the audience to believe in them.

I cried — usually means — it was moving, but not necessarily sad.

It wasn’t what I was expecting at all — usually means — the movie had a misleading trailer or failed to hit the points expected of the genre.

I was excited — usually means — it was fast-paced with lots of action.

I didn’t get it — usually means — the plot was too complex.

The only one that doesn’t really work is “it was funny,” because responses to comedy are so subjective. In this case, you should think about what movies your friend has thought were funny (for instance, did they laugh at Team America or at George of the Jungle?) before recommending a comedy to them. I get bad recommendations from people all the time simply because they don’t take into consideration that we have different senses of humor.

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How to Make a Hollywood Action Movie

I have money (sometimes). I like to spend that money on tickets to action movies. GOOD action movies. Action movies that make me go “Yessss! That is so AWESOME!” not “Guuuugh, that is sooo LAME!” I have seen a disturbing number of the latter type films in theaters lately so I thought current and future Hollywood producer types might appreciate (okay, more NEED than appreciate) this guide on how to get my money from me.

You could be forgiven for looking at the less-than-stellar repertoire of action stars like Steven Segal or Jean Claude Van Damme and extrapolating the formula for making a successful Hollywood action film as follows:

The Hollywood Action Equation: Boobs + Bombs = Money

Roughly translated as: boobs plus bombs equals massive pile of money

But if all you want is successful, go back to Underachievers Anonymous, because you’re obviously not getting the message. Film is an art form as well as an entertainment medium. Contribute, dammit! You should be aiming for maximum entertainment value: and that means making a GOOD action movie.
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How to: Make Sequels to Snakes on a Plane

If his filmography is anything to go by, Samuel L. Jackson will act in anything. He’s appeared in no fewer than 127 productions in 37 years, which is an average of 3.5 jobs per year. The only explanation I can think of for his being so absurdly busy is that he made himself a promise that he would accept any role that came to him regardless of size, moneymaking potential, or quality. That’s how we ended up with this underrated gem of a film:


a film so simple the title doubles as the synopsis

Amazingly, the simple formula Snakes on a Plane follows turned out to be a winner. This is its mathematical expression, no doubt used in the pitch meeting for the film to tone down the immense complexity of the idea into something studio executives could understand:


snake + plane = money

In fact, this model was so successful that they’re already working on a sequel, Snakes on a Plane 2: Snakes on a Train (I kid you not, that is the real title). While the odds of you making any money off the original franchise are only slightly higher than the possibility of your winning the European lottery, Samuel L. Jackson’s willingness to work on everything his schedule will allow does give you the potential to cash in.

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How to: Make a Horror Movie I Will Pay Money to See

If you’re even remotely connected to civilization, you can probably name about 30 horror movies made in the last twenty years that were not worth the time it took to watch them, let alone the 5-10 dollars (depending on whether you rented it or saw it in the theaters) you had to pay for the privilege of finding this out.

bad horror movies
I’m not naming any names, but…

You know the kind I’m talking about. They seem to be made according to a set of golden rules that go as follows:


1. Monster creatures/bad guys must spend as much time on-screen as humanly possible regardless of special effects quality and should never enter a scene unaccompanied by a loud blast of music.

2. Human characters must be as boring, whiny, and/or stupid as possible and explode like a bag of blood with a grenade in it when so much as grazed.

3. “Surprise” endings must be neither surprising nor the end of anything at all.

Getting a whiff of any of these tenets via the trailer is enough to send me and my money in the direction of another (ANY other) theater. (Congratulations, Midnight Meat Train you made me watch The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor)

In the interests of securing better entertainment for myself and my fellow moviegoers and more money for filmmakers (though only as a byproduct) I thought I would make this guide on how to make a movie that I will pay money for, using two films from 2007:

… as examples of what to do and what not to do, respectively. Rogue, despite its thoroughly generic poster, was surprisingly good. AVP:R also surprised me. Not by being bad, but by the depths of its horribleness.

Spoilers follow for AVPR. I consider this a favor to you, the reader. I’m saving you from having to waste two hours of your life watching it when you could stare at a blank wall instead and feel that your time was better spent.

I won’t spoil Rogue, however. That one you need to watch.

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How to be Killed

From watching a multitude of horror films, I have learned that there are certain steps one needs to take if one wants to be killed in the goriest possible fashion. I will share these with you, so that one day you too can go out in style.

1. Trust everyone.
You never know who’s a killer and who’s not, so the best way to find out is to let each person get you alone and see whether or not they kill you.

2. Whenever possible, be alone with strangers.
They’re more likely to be killers than your friends, whom you have probably already been alone with without anything untoward happening.

3. Do all your traveling alone at night in bad weather.
This decreases the chance that there will be anyone around to help you should you be targeted by a killer.

3. If you must travel by vehicle, take the most unreliable one you can find.
Thus making sure that when it breaks down, whoever stops to “help” you will have other plans in mind.

4. Make sure to tell everyone you’re going out of town.
This way, when you are kidnapped and held in a dank basement for days, no one will be looking for you.

5. Make sure not to tell anyone if you go out in the dark by yourself.
Then it will take them longer to realize you are missing.

6. If receiving threatening messages or dead animal parts in the mail, or if your friends are disappearing, do not talk to the police.
This may deter the killer.

7. When you are first attacked, concentrate solely on staring into the killer’s masked face and screaming.
This is more likely to get you killed than trying to escape, fighting back, or calling for help.

8. Panic.
This ensures that you will make foolish decisions.

9. When running away indoors, head for a basement or bell tower.
Because there are no exits.

10. When running away outdoors, head for the woods.
Do not run toward populated areas. People there may try to help you.

11. While you are running, make sure to look back as often as possible.
So you will trip over something in front of you.

12. Scream as much as possible and knock things over.
This will make it easier for the killer to track you while you try to escape.

13. Take a very circuitous escape route.
So as to allow the killer to follow you at a walking pace.

14. In your final moments, do not scratch the killer.
This may result in samples of his/her DNA getting under your fingernails. If your body is found it may lead them to the killer.

This concludes the “How to be Killed” manual. Now get out there and put your new knowledge to good use. With any luck, your liver could end up as a trophy in the freezer of a killer near you!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Meyers has written numerous completely fictional novels detailing the inner machinations of the mind of a serial killer. He has been married and widowed 357 times. He and his current wife Audrey currently live out of telephone contact with the 911 system. Michael enjoys hunting, paint-by-numbers and playing dress-up. His favorite food is liver.


Photo Credit: Jack McKillable (deceased)

Buy Some Horror DVDs

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