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Self Made - Movie Review of Self Made - 2010

About Method Acting and Movie Making


British filmmaker Gillian Wearing placed ads in newspapers and job placement offices throughout Newcastle and London with the following: "If you were to play a part in a film, would you play yourself or a fictional character?" Out of the hundreds of people who responded, Wearing selected seven people -- five men and two women -- who had interesting personal stories to participate in her cinematic experiment about method acting.

The Process and The Results

Wearing's subjects took part in an acting workshop lead by method-acting teacher Sam Rumbelow. Using relaxation techniques and improvisation, they tapped into their psyches and memories and, based on what they discovered about themselves, developed characters coming to grips with situations not unlike those they'd personally experienced in the past. The workshop ends with the subjects starring in mini-films -- self-contained scenes, really -- centered around the characters and situations they developed with Rumbelow's guidance.

None of the workshop participants has a big or highly demonstrative personality, but each has a key issue -- fear of abandonment, a sense of isolation, repressed rage at having been bullied, lack of trust, etc. -- that feeds the method process and the project. One by one, the subjects reveal their inner selves. Some have emotional breakdowns on camera as they're put through the progressively challenging method acting exercises.

As they welcome their emotional release, so do we. Actually, their character transformations play out like a psychodrama. And, although we've seen this sort of arc before in improvised group performances in live theater, it is this aspect of the films that is most engaging and satisfying.

The mini-films that the subjects develop and eventually realize are interwoven into the film's narrative towards the end, but, unfortunately, they're mostly mediocre. But, in the end, the characters are appealing and the film is mostly about their method process rather than it's results, and that process is one well worth observing.

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Film Details:

  • Title: Self Made
  • Director: Gillian Wearing
  • Release Date: October, 2010 (United Kingdom)
  • Running Time: 88 mins.
  • Parents Advisory: Advisory for content
  • Location: London, England
  • Language: English
  • Production Company: Fly Film Company

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