November 09, 2010
Chris Hunt Griggs '12
"Deliver the goods!" That was the maxim Patrick Kilpatrick stressed above all else during his workshops on October 18, 19, and 20. Over the three days, the workshops focused respectively on Auditioning, Screenwriting, and Financing. If anyone should know what it takes to succeed in Hollywood, it's Patrick Kilpatrick, who has been a professional actor in the theatre and on the screen for approximately forty years, as well as a moviemaker in his own right with his production company, Uncommon Dialogue Films.
The first day was intimidating. A sizeable group of students gathered outside Crawley Forum. We were locked out, but eager to learn. Then, Prof. Matthew Dubroff - theatre instructor and the director of the Fall Fine Arts Production of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming - walks up with none other than the man himself, Patrick Kilpatrick. His intensity was noticeable from the get-go. He is a large, imposing, sharply-dressed man with many years of experience under his belt; he exudes confidence. He began talking to the assembly on the Forum patio, so hard to contain was his message for us. "Deliver the goods!" We pictured the words. Campus security unlocked the doors.
We learned a great deal that first day about auditioning in Hollywood, what it's like, what it takes - how to set yourself apart from the millions trying to "make it" every year there. He took us through the process, step-by-step, carefully crafting the scene in our collective imagination. Casting director sits here. Camera is there. As an actor, be aware of your "V," the conical field of view within the view of the camera. To "deliver," you must do the work of a serious actor; you must know the subtext of the material, the dramatic landscape, and the character's circumstances. It takes time, but this time is the groundwork for a career as a professional actor.
Mr. Kilpatrick did not limit himself strictly to each day's topic, so the workshops on writing and film production and financing bled together in interesting ways. He has had ample experience writing, journalistic and cinematic. (He worked for Time for brief period early in his career.) He vehemently stressed to the assembled students a simple truth: stories are everywhere, waiting to be told. It is easy to take these stories for granted, but they are there. And many have the potential to move millions.
Mr. Kilpatrick was quick to point out that the current economy has caused a dramatic shift in Hollywood, in terms of how movies get made. The old world of studio domination is out the window; the "Wild West" has risen again. He does not see this negatively, though. In many ways, it is liberation; the industry is wide open, ripe for hardworking, creative people. Opportunity abounds. Even for us. It is merely a matter of taking advantage and delivering the goods.