Building A Back Story Without The Danger of Losing Yourself

For us actors, one of the most crucial aspects of acting, would be without a doubt, creating a real and believable character. When creating a living breathing character, the most crucial ingredient is often overlooked; what makes your character tick and why? In other words, creating their backstory.

There are many unique ways of going about creating your character and their backstory, but the greatest method I have found, for building that necessary history while staying safe and healthy, is a technique known as The Warner Loughlin Technique.

Warner Loughlin Technique

After years of using the standard acting techniques for her work, actor Warner Loughlin realised, that the methods used most frequently around her, were not truly working with the environment of being in front of a camera.

She could see the methods that were being used, were outdated, as many techniques used in cinema were created for the stage, and some harmful. As these techniques were created for acting on a stage, they reflected this nature, by not including many aspects of filmmaking, such as Multiple takes, shooting out of sequence and working in extreme close-ups, which of course were not requirements when the craft of acting was created. As well as lacking in the artistic evolution factor, many popularly used methods forced the actor to, often times harmfully, use personal history, emotions or delve into unsafe characters for the story.

A good example of these potentially harmful techniques would be the Psychological Approach. Known as Method Acting, and made famous because of actors like Heath Ledger, Jared Leto and Daniel Day-Lewis, this technique asks actors to live completely and realistically within their character’s lives.

Many have become sceptic of this style because it drives the actor to no longer act like the character, or mimic the character, but instead become the character. It’s very effective and impressive if accomplished correctly, but this technique has also (and for good reason), become infamous for its danger. Let’s say an actor picks a character that has mental problems and is unstable…I’m sure you can already see the problem involved.  

Seeing how these acting styles came short when adapting to screen and how some asked to much of an actor to be healthy, Warner Loughlin felt change was in order.

Warner created an acting technique used by actors like Amy Adams, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, that would provide a safer, more concrete way to “get there” before a scene.

The method used in Warner’s technique has been described as “safe”, compared to other techniques because instead of using real history, experiences and emotions, Loughlin presents you a way to create your own history, experiences and emotions, just as realistically and debatably far more reliably. By creating a physical timeline for your character, you are able to list their relevant memories, and through thorough trained imagination, live out those memories yourself. Creating these memories as vivid and real to you as a memory that truly happened you can build a real persona without giving your own away.

There are many acting techniques out there for you, some famous some not, some safer some less so. The choice is up to you, how do you want to live realistically under imaginary circumstances?

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  • Noah Snyder Is an actor who works for the Initiative Production Company in Brisbane, Australia. Although born in Washington State USA, he has lived for almost half his life overseas, in Chiang Mai Thailand. He loves acting and every unique culture the world has to offer.

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