SDF’s Understanding the Character

SDF’s Understanding the Psychology of the “Character”

This evenings presentation was given by Billy Cowart of WCI Studios. Here are a few notes from the presentation.


There are very few real character actors (like Sacha Baron Cohen and Philip Seymore Hoffman), most are actors are people reacting to their surroundings.

Billy started the presentation with an exercise involving one of the actors from the audience. He asked Jennifer to describe different moods or personalities of herself and how old she field when she was in those moods. As he was interviewing each personality, he asked her to sit in a different chair. You could see her body language and posture change while she was thinking about each personality. As he talked to her you could see that each of these personality fragments came about from a traumatic event earlier in her life. They were there to cope and manage situations. At the end of the exercise he asked her to imagine all of these separate personalities sitting around her getting up and sitting down with her (or rejoining her). At the end of the process you could see she field whole, serene and complete.

We all have multiple personalities we use to deal with different situations. 80% of what we do is unconscious. An actor can fragment their personality and it is important to understand when this has happened. By not taking that last step in the exercise to reintegrate with the whole can cause problems.

“It’s not what the actor thinks, it’s what he feels.”

For the Directors and the Characters in Film

More and more directors are shooting scenes without rehearsing. “Be passionate and careless.” The best thing you can do for an actor is feed them with awareness. As the media changes we are getting closer and closer. Frequently he’ll hear the director ask for more from the actor. The director will check the dailies only to see the performance he wanted was there – he had been watching the actors not the screen during filming.

“Stillness is strength, stillness is truth.”

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: “Billy Cowart, the head of  WCI Studios, started acting in 1979 and has been continuously working and building a career ever since. Over 60 plays and numerous Film and T.V. credits fill out his resume. He has worked as a Supervising Producer for Storytellerz and 6 Reel Pictures (NICHE, HANK &EDGAR and CACTUS ) as well as a feature film writer for Emmet/Furla Films and Ross Bell (Producer of FIGHTCLUB and KILLBILL) and Fogleaf Media. He has worked as acasting associate with several casting directors, as a film development associate, as a director  and is currently Co-Producing the feature Film B-Girl. He brings a passion, knowledge, and love to the craft that is contagious. These dynamic courses have been developed out of years of training, experience and exploration in all aspects of Theatre, Improv, Film, and Television production.” – San Diego Filmmakers

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