Unplug if you really want to be an artist.

This guy goes to the Adele concert and films the whole thing, the next day his buddy says, “How did you like it?” and he says, “I don’t know, I haven’t watched it yet.”

At my actor talk with Patrick Warburton I asked him to sing his favorite Pearl Jam song in the voice of Kronk. He thought for a moment and then just before he began he said “phones down” and half a dozen phones went down. What struck me was how reflexive this action is in the young actor;  film now, experience later.

If you think that filming your live events will make you a better artist, here is my warning to you…

Acting is about being more present than anyone else in the room and staying present every moment. When you film what’s happening right in front of you, you lose the immediate experiential connection to it. The once-in-a-lifetime impact is gone. The true meaning of connecting with the artist/event is gone. If you create a habit where there is always the barrier of a lens between you and a live, feeling, experience you will lose your ability to connect. No one watches their recording of a live performance after and says “it feels exactly the same as when I was standing there!” In fact it does the opposite, often it makes a great event look lame and kills your feelings about it.

As an artist your job is to communicate on a higher level than everyday chatter, to risk being very private in public. So stop documenting every moment and risk being in them.  It is only by being present that you put yourself in a position to have those sparks of amazement, those epiphanies of understanding wash over you when something honest is happening in the room. Thinking you can be totally present on stage but needn’t be that way elsewhere is a fallacy. Take in what other actors and artists hand you and be influenced. Trust that what sticks in your brain is what you need from it. A spark inspiration might be found within a video replay, but the MUCH bigger risk is that you (and to those around you) are being robbed of the perfect connection we get from being lucky enough to see this stuff live and for real. It’s bad enough when you stand next to the guy who wants to out sing Bono, but having to watch the concert through his phone screen because it’s simply unavoidable is homicide sized maddening.

Actor’s faith isn’t only about what happens on stage, it’s also about the faith you have in yourself to be learning all the time.