Previously, I described the concept of an individual’s “driving force.” I expressed the importance of identifying your “strategic drive” which sets a unique and sustaining growth trajectory for you or your organization.
This concept of leveraging a “core” is one of my favorite topics. As a result, it’s not surprising that upon reading the book Kazan On Directing, I was excited to discover some killer notions that supported this idea.
For those of you who don’t know, Elia Kazan was one of the most successful film and theatre directors in the 20thCentury. He is famously known for directing A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, East of Eden and many other films.
In the book, we learn that prior to leading a project, Kazan “studied the stage and filmscript to find the single encompassing motive that powers the work, its core sentiment, what he terms its ‘spine.’”
Additionally, he sought the “spine” of each character. He imagined “a backstory to the character that would provide a base for improvisations for the actors.” For example, in Streetcar, Blanche DuBois’ spine was “to find a safe haven.”
Kazan believed that “You have to start from the actor, and you have to find out where the part is alive for him. Somewhere within him the part must exist. You’ve got to find out before you cast them that the element that you need in the performance is there.”
Among Kazan’s many strengths as a director, “perhaps the most crucial was the ability to cast with intuitive brilliance by decoding his actors’ core.” In other words, he could get the best results by clearly understanding, and leveraging, an actor’s strongest point of character connection.
Attentively studying the qualities of a script, and leveraging its single most compelling attribute, drove the successful development of Kazan’s films. By identifying the script’s “spine,” he could maximize the film’s limited resources to a successful conclusion.
Identifying your own spine is just as beneficial. It’s your first and most important step. In doing so, you will improve your own success.
Unleash yourself. Start now.
(For ideas on how to identify your “spine” or driving force, consider reading one of our previous blog posts, “Look Backward, Advance Faster.”)