The easiest way to emphasize a white color was to make the background black. Acting was the same. There was a limit to showing emotions. There was no limit to emotion itself, but there was a limit to the methods of expressing them. No matter how varied one made their facial expressions, there was a limited range for the facial muscles to move, and that was the same for voices as well. After expressing stronger and stronger emotions, acting would become bland after one point. The character would become very flat. That was why the beginning was important. What was more important than the explosion was to keep the fuse lit.
“I am going. What’s today’s lunch again?”
Maru smiled and looked at the actor in front of him. For this moment, the guy in front of him was not a junior from the acting club, but his friend in another reality. Actors needed to accept falseness as reality. Acting could only begin after that.
“Doenjang soup and fried pollacks.”
“That’s terrible. Wanna go buy something instead?”
“Are you treating me?”
“Yeah, well, I’ll buy it. We’re friends after all.”
The most obsequious thing was to try to act like the other side. Maru hung his arms around the people who bullied him until just a while ago. Inside, he created an endless number of excuses to justify himself.
It wouldn’t matter even if he went about acting while thinking ‘I’ll do this kind of acting’. Even if he did not synchronize with the character, the majority of the audience would accept the film without feeling anything strange even if he just went about acting while listing the objective facts in his mind. That was because there was a limit to expression, and the audience would also take the film in while acknowledging that it was fiction.
In one sense, acting was an occupation where effort did not correspond to matching results. Unless it was something blatantly obvious, like losing an extreme amount of weight or acting as a character with a disability, the audience would have a hard time noticing what kind of effort the actors went through in order to act. If it was possible to get just as many results as the investment, anyone would try their utmost best, but if it was unknown if people would recognize their efforts at all, was there any need to practice acting so hard?
For Maru, he could neither say yes nor no. A veteran actor would probably give a meaningful answer based on experience or statistics, but he himself was just a newbie at the foot of the mountain. He wasn’t in a situation where he could say which path was the best in order to reach the peak.
Despite that, if he had to give an opinion, he was on the side that yes, they had to repeat the arduous and boring task to the best of their efforts even if it was highly probable that no one would recognize them for it. With acting, efficiency wasn’t a part of the equation. If it was a college entrance exam, an efficient acting method might exist. That was because the professors at those colleges would have a preferred form of acting. However, an actor didn’t face just one individual. They had to target numerous people that might exist in front of the TV screens at home. Among them, there might be some people who would overlook the awkwardness of their acting, and there might be some who would discover a flaw in their acting that even the video editor couldn’t find. It was impossible to satisfy the entire audience when they ranged across such a broad spectrum.
In the end, actors were creatures that challenged the impossible. Talking about efficiency in front of such a task was meaningless. The only thing anyone could do was to increase the probability by just a little. Broadening the spectrum of acting and adding depth to it in order to be loved by many viewers and used in many pieces was the only way to keep the title of an ‘actor’ for a long time.
After all that, it came down to effort in the end. Maru had to join a game that had a random result and everything was based on probability with chips that had the word ‘effort’ engraved on them. If he succeeds, he would become a named actor and land himself on riches, and if he failed, he would become dirt poor and have to leave the field altogether.
As despicable as the word was, he had to embrace effort in the end. There definitely existed a systemized way of acting, but that method was definitely not the formula that led to success. Taking the path that everyone takes and then taking the path that no one takes - this has to be the source of energy for most actors.
However, just counting on effort alone was too risky. That was why Maru wanted a safety measure in this bet. A minimum safety net where he could receive compensation for his work. Even if he could not survive as a main character, if he wanted to keep his lifeline of being supporting characters, there was a need to increase the variation of his acting. He needed to put in an effort not to become the best, but in order to NOT become the worst.
If he didn’t notice the change in his nature, it might have been detrimental to him. He might have turned into an optimistic fool and challenged unnecessary things. Or, he might have gone about his career with a challenging mindset before being broken down the line. Fortunately, Maru noticed the change. Rather than rejecting this bright personality that eroded his nature, he decided to make use of it. In retrospect, his acting that received compliments until now were all ones that asked him to leave behind a deep impression. A delinquent, a young murderer, a beggar, a bullied student. Even in the drama, he played a character that opposed the teacher. No one proposed that he should play a tenderhearted character. Likewise, he did not look for such roles either. Perhaps he might have felt it without knowing it - that he, who possessed extremely negative emotions due to his experience of death, suited characters that poked out of the story rather than the calm ones.
Before he played such characters though, there was something else that he received great compliments for from the audience. From an audience who paid money to watch a play, even.
The bus driver role. When he played a character for a filler skit prior to the main play, he always received applause from the audience due to his one-man act. Thinking about that time, being a bus driver didn’t require any sort of rough acting. It was something where he just calmly looked back at his own memories and touched the hearts of the audience. There was no violent expression of emotions, no frowning faces, and no angry voices, but the audience who had seen his act back then all looked like they were fully immersed.
If he used his past to act, then showing off such soft emotions wouldn’t be too hard. However, what if his memories disappeared and the ‘fact’ that he ‘experienced’ those things disappeared with them? He would probably never be able to show off something like that ever again. Moreover, the him before the change would be riddled with distrust towards mankind, so it would be even harder to play a softer role.
‘It’s different now.’
Something fundamental had changed. The self that always placed suspicion and distrust in front had been weakened. He believed that he would continue living his life in that way, but if he had laid them down, he might have become a soft man who believed in others.
Being poisoned without any preparation would put life in jeopardy, but being poisoned with proper preparation might become a medicine that strengthened the immune system. His now-positive nature should allow him to have a more flexible mindset in the future, and it would help out with the acting side as well. This meant that the frame of his acting spectrum would broaden from just being able to act out characters with deep impressions to being able to act in such a way that he blended in with the rest.
He had to be sensitive to change but he also had to proactively make the most out of the properties. That way, he would be able to form a different kind of relationship with people other than the ones he made until now. He would be able to gain new opportunities and new things to learn through them. A fish that could live in both clean and dirty waters would have a much larger advantage surviving than a fish that could only live in clean waters.
He didn’t have to play a character that received attention. It would be fine as long as he and Gaeul made enough money to live. Of course, saving up additional money for their future child might be good, but that was for the future. After all, having a child was something unimaginable right now.
For a brief moment, he wondered if it even made sense that they didn’t have a child even though he died at 45, but he shook off his thoughts when he heard Sora’s voice enter his ears.
“Let’s insert more laughs this time. Also, Maru-seonbae, it was good.”
“Tell me anytime if you’re dissatisfied.”
“Of course. But that really was good just now. I don’t have anything to add. Let’s go over to Hochul’s cut now.”
The camera moved over to the junior’s side. This junior digested the role of a lead supporting character splendidly until now, but he seemed under rather high pressure today. Normally, he would say something before he started acting, but right now he was staring holes into the script with his mouth shut.
“Well then. This is the scene where seonbae looks at Hochul with pity before turning around. Hochul, you know that expression, right? You have to express the despair as though you just lost your foothold. I know it must be difficult, but please do it.”
Maru exchanged gazes with his junior before starting to act.
Maru looked at the transfer student, who reached out to him just like always to eat lunch together, before swiftly turning around. The original plan was to turn around with hesitation, but they changed it to turning around in a hurry in order to express the main character’s desperation to not return to the days when he was bullied. He turned around and stayed like that until he was no longer in the camera frame before turning around to look at his junior.
The junior was making a very gloomy expression in the middle of the camera frame. Maru walked over and looked at the monitor that Sora was looking at. He could see the face of his junior, which shook a little inside the frame. His eyes shook slightly as he licked his lips. Maru looked at Sora’s face from the side. She was looking at the screen with a serious expression, but her lips did not utter the word ‘okay’.
After a while, Sora shouted cut.
“Let’s just try Hochul’s part again. Hochul, are you okay with that?”
“We’re going to keep rolling the camera. Express everything you want. Don’t worry about the time.”
They started shooting without hitting the slate. Maru crossed his arms and watched the monitor. His junior was repeating a few facial expressions and was playing the role of the slate himself by sighing every other beat.
“What do you think?”
“Since you’re asking me that, you must not like any of them, huh?”
“They’re good, but I feel like it’s lacking something.”
“Turning that something into words and telling the actor about it is the director’s job.”
“I know that. That’s why I know that the deficiency is on my end. If it was clear, I would’ve told him properly about it, but I’m asking you since even I don’t have a full grasp on it. What do you think about his acting?”
“Like you said, it is good.”
“So not very good?”
Sora frowned before clapping.
“Hochul, you can stop for now.”
She called Hochul over to the monitor. Ando also put down the camera and came over. The four of them looked at the video which was recorded without sound. The junior’s face continuously played out for a pretty long period of 8 minutes.
“Do you feel anything?”
Sora asked a question to the actor in question, but Hochul only shook his head. Maru understood how he felt. There were actors who felt confident about their acting, but there were also many actors who relied on the okay sign from the director rather than their own confidence. The director was asking a question with suspicion on her face, so an actor would rarely say that something was good. Not only that, Hochul just started off acting.
“Should I do that again?”
The only thing that came back was the dejected voice of the junior. Sora also made an apologetic expression. Continuing the shoot without a proper direction from the director signified the incompetence of the director. Relying on the actor for everything should also be a difficult matter for Sora, who had a very high self-esteem.
“How is it?” Maru asked Ando.
Ando’s camera movements looked really good. He didn’t feel like a newbie with the camera. This meant that he had pretty good eyes.
“This one is confusing me too. They all look okay, but they all look not okay.”
Maru nodded. This was one of the most crucial cuts in the film. No, since this was the scene where the conflict was brought out to the extreme, it was no different from the face of the film itself. The reason everyone refrained from answering was probably because they knew that their opinion might influence the quality of the whole outcome.
Maru looked at the three, who stayed quiet, before speaking,
“Let’s get your heart rate up.”
“I’ll go for a jog with Hochul for a bit.”
Maru pointed at the school field with his chin.
“If your head doesn’t know, you should make your body feel it instead. Run until you feel like your heart will burst. If you hold your breath in that state, you’ll know a little more about what desperation is.”
“Director, take a break with the others. We lowly actors will make use of our bodies for a bit.”
Maru pushed the junior’s back outside the classroom.