Ben Baker: I’m on the verge of tears every time I see this thing, but is that why that implication happens? She gets him to what? As an actor you’re getting ready to hear action what should you have done before action so that you know how to do that or you know thats what you have to do? What has happened to do you think?
Audience Member: Well, they’ve established a bond for their grifting a little bit. It’s not just a job?
Ben Baker: In the beginning when he takes her to cafe for a NeHi and a Coney Island, what do you think … does everyone know Ryan and Tatum – real father and daughter?…What do you think are some of the choices he has to make to make for that scene work? Remember that scene? ‘Eat your coney island, c’mon.’
Audience Member: He is sort of finding himself in the fatherly role, but at the same time there’s this tension between wanting to instruct the little girl, but at the same time try not to take on the fatherly role.
Ben Baker: Is that what the actor outside of the role thinks he has to do in that scene? We’re talking about acting, what is acting? What is Ryan trying to do in that scene?
Audience Member: I think he’s trying to win her over because he’s trying to outsmart her.
Ben Baker: Oh right, well right, cool he’s trying to win her over…Was he successful? How many ways in that scene did he try to do to win her over? He tried to bulldoze her he tried to steam roll her. But Ryan, knew before that scene started, he’s memorized his lines and he knows he has to win her over and then he just steam rolls her he tries to bulldoze her… He has to come in knowing what his objective is… knowing what you really do want. We’ve all been around kids who ask us questions…if you put food in their mouth what happens? They stop talking! It could be something as simple as that, he knows her she’s his daughter, but he has to know how to take control of this situation. Here they’re shooting the first scene last and the middle scene second…you’ve only got one audience member when you’re working on the film, that camera, no one else matters, if you’re not ready, that camera is going to pick it up. What is acting?
Audience Member: It’s communication.
Ben Baker: Yes sir. Certainly.
Audience Member: Convincing the audience.
Ben Baker: To be convincing.
Audience Member: There’s a lot of projection of motive and emotions that has to come to the physical. The face is so important…
Ben Baker: Completely. In theater what do you see? You see the whole body, a bunch of bodies up there and theres so much to take in, but here you’re only seeing what Mr. Bogdanovich wanted you to see. Or that editor sitting at that desk. The eyes are it. If you’re over acting or under acting or don’t have anything going on it’s just not going to work. Where was the moment when Ryan and Tatum suddenly made a huge change in their character? Where did it happen? If Coney Island and drink your NeHi was a combative relationship, where did the relationship change?
Audience Member: Was it the first car scene, by way of their faces, you see a series of emotions and each character’s reconciliation?
Audience Member: I think when he saw she was smarter, improved the deal.
Ben Baker: So right after that moment, when they were in the car. He knew. As an actor he has to know what he wants, he looks over at her, he has to know what he wants. Ryan knows – he’s the actor. So what does Ryan have to do you think? …When she improved the deal and sold the bible for more money, the next scene was a quiet car ride, Ryan looked over at her with some affection that she had improved the deal and she had a moment of satisfaction. We see the fathers character, a physiological change, we sometimes have a physiological change and we don’t understand what it is, but it happens and Ryan is sitting there and he knows what that is and he has to make that happen.
blog post and photography by a/ staff member kristen bryant & Paper Moon trailer by Clay Bloodworth