Take Your Mark | Cynthia Garcia

Engage Art | Artist to Artist, Reflection & Growth | September 22, 2022

This blog is about an important skill for performing artists, yet also serves as a big metaphor for life. While it is written from an actor’s perspective, the ideals within can apply to any creative committed to their craft; especially those who are artists of faith.

Where’s Your Mark?

If you’re an actor who has studied your craft, you know that one of the first things beginners must master is to “hit your mark.” On stage, and especially in film, new actors learn how to land on a designated spot where they will need to stop, stand and deliver their lines. While this might feel contrived at first, hitting your marks allows the director and cinematographer to properly frame the shots. The actor is one part of a larger creation coming to life. The beauty of a mark is that it is always clearly delineated. There is no guesswork on the part of the actors. The only question for you, the actor, is "Do you see it?"

For everyone: What is your goal? Can you see how to get there? Do you have a sense of the timing?

Your Mark Matters

Unless you're performing alone, it's important to keep track of which marks are yours! You do not want to make the mistake of being on a fellow actor's mark. This is all a part of blocking, staging the movements. Mixing up your marks can inhibit others in their own performance, not to mention throwing off the carefully-planned shots on the film set. When it comes to marks, every actor hitting theirs helps the process of filming and editing to be more efficient and enjoyable for everyone involved. And, if you don’t know, there are a loooooootttttt of people involved in the process. An actor hitting their mark is just one small, but very important part, of a precise and strategic process.

For everyone: What are the roles you play in your relationships, family, clubs, civic groups, church, etc. How do your roles impact others?

How Can You Hit Your Mark Every Time?

Practice, Practice, Practice

It’s true. We have all heard the phrase that "practice makes perfect." When you get into an audition space, find your mark at the appropriate time. Most times, you will see it or the casting director will point it out to you. If on set, there may be times when a director tells you where they want you to land. Practice ‘getting to your mark’ in either case, as familiarity will make the movement more natural. With practice, it will be evident to everyone that you know what you are doing.

Stay Focused

There are a number of things that are simultaneously happening in a casting situation or on set. The key for the performer is to maintain focus by ‘staying in their lane.’  Actors are paid to take direction. This is not to say that actors do not have ideas or are unable to contribute to conversations involving the artistic process. However, actors need to remember their role in the larger production. If you're distracted by trying to improve the lighting or give direction to your costars, you will lose focus on your role and what you uniquely bring to the production. Simply put, actors should focus on their tasks—all that pertains to their tasks—and execute them well.

Pay Attention

In order to hit your mark you must pay attention. Time equates to money. Therefore, optimizing time is of the essence. The best way for an actor to help in this process is to pay attention. Marks can be changed or moved for any number of reasons, so don’t check out prematurely. The actor must use whatever resources available to them to keep up with the changes. Questions are fine, but remember to ask questions in a manner that shows you are paying attention. Directors will appreciate your respect, attention and effort!

For everyone: How can you set up your life to know how God wants you to be? What practice skills are required to stay on task and help you apply your best self to real life circumstances around you?

The moral of the story: Know where your mark is and hit it.

Speaking of marks, I want to leave you with a GREAT TRUTH for today: 

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

How about you? Are you allowing the Lord to establish your steps to ensure you hit your marks in life? What are you doing to keep striving forward and hit the marks in your passion and calling?

About the author: Cynthia Garcia is the Founder and Executive Director of Exalted Arts, a non-profit theater company based in Houston, Texas. A lifelong lover of theater arts, Cynthia has performed internationally, with ten years’ experience writing and producing original work as well. Cynthia is a graduate of New York’s American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Texas Southern University, Inspire Women’s Life Purpose Academy, and the University of Houston, where she obtained her MA in Arts Leadership.

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