Anybody can act, believes Crazy Stone director
Updated: 2011-01-30 15:05
By Liu Wei (Agencies)
Director Ning Hao thinks many mainland actors need to relax more when they perform. Jiang Dong / China Daily
In an empty room, a girl chases after a boy, trying to grab a sock tucked under his belt. Ten young men sit on the floor, watching and laughing.
In another game, a couple stand face-to-face, making faces to amuse one another. The first to burst into laughter gets slapped in the face by the other.
Then all the young men stand in a circle, and pretend to play a violin.
The 12 youngsters are in an acting class. Most are amateurs, and include a writer, a sculptor, and even a construction site supervisor.
They are all at the 10-day training course, after responding to a call by director Ning Hao, a popular young filmmaker looking for actors for his new film.
Rising to fame with his two black comedies, Crazy Stone and Crazy Racer, 34-year-old Ning graduated from Beijing Film Academy and believes anyone can be an actor.
"There is nothing mysterious about acting," he says. "With proper training every one can find his or her potential. While they may not become professionals in 10 days, the training opens a door for them to learn whether or not they really like acting."
The students may join the cast of Ning's next film, a period comedy, whose filming will begin in March.
Three months ago, Ning went online calling actor-wannabes to post their videos, even as his assistant directors scoured the streets, armed with their cameras.
About 20,000 young aspirants applied for his class. After meeting more than 100 of them in person, based on their videos, he settled on 12.
"I was not looking for acting experience, but some special feature, such as a striking confidence or distinctive sense of humor, something eye-catching," he says.
Ning invited people like Hong Kong's Jim Chim - a veteran theater and film actor and stand-up comedian - to be one of the trainers. His teaching involves a lot of games that call for much imagination and improvisation.
"Many mainland actors' problem is they try too hard in acting," he says. "They need to relax more."
Another teacher Zhang Songwen from Beijing Film Academy focuses on observing life more keenly. For this, he takes his students to funeral homes, hospitals, and divorce proceedings at marriage registration offices.
"You have to be very lucky to find a script that relates to your own life when you become a professional actor," he says. "Actors have to closely observe the lives of others."
Taiwan director Chen Yiwen will also join the class soon.
China has few acting schools. Every year millions vie for one of the limited spots in the two most prestigious schools - Beijing Film Academy and the Central Academy of Drama.
"We lack good actors," Ning says. "Too many people are picking up fruits but few are planting trees. I want to plant some trees."
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