Acting Methods: Intense Argument Performance Depicted in Film

“Intensity gets misinterpreted. Not all acting is necessarily extremely intense. But it is concentrated and very much about being here, now.”

Quote above is taken from link: How Actors Create Emotions: A Problematic Psychology

In the story, we have a scenario between a family falling apart, the audience will be aware of this argument from the beginning of our story. We hear the parents arguing inside the house. What was interesting for me drawing out the storyboards, was to really get under the skin of those characters, and imagine I was in the situation myself –  how would I feel? I felt it should be a little intense, but also a little comical in places. One challenging aspect was understanding how people react in an argument, the ones listening I mean, not the psychical characters doing most of the talking; it was difficult for me to imagine in my head when drawing the Grandfather frustrated how he would act or pose his body. I wanted to know how I could create interesting acting choices for this scene. I decided to look at some acting performances used by actors in movies. My main focus was not on the central characters conflicting with each other on screen, what I was really intrigued to observe were the characters hidden in the background; quietly observing the argument of the scene for themselves. I was observing the observer… to understand how actors portray theses emotions on screen.

In my research, I looked at some incredible pieces of acting performances from great intense movie arguments; here is that list below:

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby –  Daisy Flashback Sequence

Field of Dreams

I could not find any movies that specifically showed characters listening to the argument. The focus of the camera is not on them, it is on the central point of interest to the scene, the sub-characters only appear when important plot points are revealed, or hidden personas of a character come to surface. These moments are called “shock factors” and are used to inform the audience that a major plot point has just been revealed. It creates a sense of interest between the audience and the characters.

How Actors Create Emotion

You have to draw from stuff you know, right? Actors must do real work – build real worlds and scenarios inside their imagination – creating unreal circumstances in which to temporarily convince themselves and others that the events of the story are real. This is the same with animation, we the animators are similar to the actor, except we create our characters and their emotions from nothing. Actors rehearse their lines and use their own bodies and imagination to put on a show.

What we value as “realistic” acting is relatively new and particularly an American depiction of society. It becomes evident that what audiences’ demand is to really believe what they have viewed is a gradual progression.

Stanislavsky first employed methods such as “emotional memory.” To prepare for a role that involves fear, the actor must remember something frightening, and attempt to act the part in the emotional space of that fear they once felt. Stanislavsky believed that an actor needed to take his or her own personality onto the stage when they began to play a character. […] Later Stanislavsky concerned himself with the creation of physical entries into these emotional states, believing that the repetition of certain acts and exercises could bridge the gap between life on and off the stage.  – How Actors Create Emotions: A Problematic Psychology

American society has a profound influence on the art of acting, what people once thought of as “American Acting” is today classed as the acting norm. Audiences today, unfortunately, have become impatient and will not even watch black & white film because they think it is boring. Classic black & white  film was stylised and very truthful –  take the work of Quentin Tarantino, his films are highly stylised, and we still believe the behaviours the acting performances portray in them. It might be heightened, but it is truthful.


Reading list

Google. (2016) Method Acting. Screen Shot. Available from: [Accessed on: 26 October 2016]

Movieclips. (2011) Field of Dreams (5/9) Movie CLIP – People Will Come (1989) HD. Available from: [Accessed on: 26 October 2016]

Ohikuare, J. (2014) How Actors Create Emotions: A Problematic Psychology. Available from: [Accessed on: 26 October 2016]

Screen Time. (2013) The Great Gatsby – I Want To Ask Mr Gatsby One More Question. Available from: [Accessed on: 26 October 2016]

Sp4wn. (2012) The Most Intense Argument In Any Movie! Available from: [Accessed on: 26 October 2016]

Walter, M. (2013) Jordan Baker Flashback Gatsby&Daisy (The Great Gatsby 2013). Available from: [Accessed on: 26 October 2016]





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