‘101 Things I Learned in Film School ®‘ by Neil Landau & Matthew Frederick is a beautifully concise book which caught my eye when browsing the Tate Modern gift shop. I thought it would be nice exercise to go through the book and apply some of the lessons to circus. I’ve picked and adapted 39 lessons which I think could easily be applied to circus performance.
1) Start strong
Suggest the central theme
Revel back story
2) Start late
Cut the first 30 seconds of a piece.
3) Show, don’t tell
4) Three stages of show making
Pre-production – meetings, fundraising, planning etc
Production – rehearsing
Post-production – selling the show etc
5) Audiences want to be as close to the action as possible.
6) Conceal the action.
Creates curiosity and intrigue
7) Story telling -> Beginning – Middle – End
- Act 1 – Establish the problem
- Act 2 – Complicate the problem
- Act 3 – Solve the problem
Establish • Complicate • Solve
8) Practice the perfect pitch.
High concepts can be explained in one sentence.
9) A good title says what the show is.
10) Create memorable entrances.
11) Create a show on different scales.
12) Every scene must revel something new.
13) What can the human eye process?
14) Set rules early, clearly and simply.
15) If it can be acted why do it with circus?
16) Make the setting a character.
17) Define the relationship to the 4th wall.
18) Beware working with children & animals.
19) Have a plan but enjoy the detours.
20) Signs of novice circus.
It’s a dream, all black costumes, sequins, bare feet, m
Amely sound track,
21) Leave breathing room.
Both theatrically and practically.
22) Place figures in uncomfortable proximity.
23) Ensure everyone is making the same show.
24) Have some show stoppers.
Big tricks, tear jerkers, hilarious jokes etc.
25) Every show is drama, conflict and suspense.
26) Dig deeper.
Do fewer things better.
27) Good writing is good rewriting.
28) When you receive a no write back thanks.
29) Different spaces, venues, audiences might be better for a different kind of show.
30) Rhythm / Tempo
Larger pace created by the show / pace of scene or act
31) Don’t cast by looks.
32) Actions speak louder than words.
33) If you want to make circus, see circus.
34) Work in the trenches.
Take less than ideal gigs, learn around your subject / ultimate goal.
35) Let it go already.
36) Play well with others.
37) Make it shorter.
38) Don’t over use cliches or coincidences.
39) “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry