Your artistic integrity is everything. If you betray it, you betray yourself. As an actor, acting coach, and poet, sometimes I witness firsthand actors, writers, and directors questioning their instincts, impulses and bold choices. And as a result, they play it safe and worse yet, engage in the futile attempt to please the imagined gatekeepers.
As an actor, writer, or director, your artistic integrity comes into play anytime you begin work on a character, sit down to write, or sign on the dotted line to direct.
What exactly is artistic integrity? In my humble opinion, it is walking the ultra-fine-line between being of service to the task at hand and simultaneously honoring what is happening in your mind, your body, and the immediate environment around you (the physical space you are literally in), and last, but not least, your imagination.
These art forms require practice, and the more you practice, the more confidence you will gain to balance these two conflicting and yet, complementary forces in us.
A current working example for actors are the times when you are committed to following through on a choice, and suddenly you have an impulse, an inspired idea that seems to be coming from nowhere. Hopefully, your instrument is so finely tuned, that you can find a way to respond to it, honoring the artist in you and the words on the page and maybe even booking the job!
Writers have similar experiences even when there is little room for improvisation, extra words, or wild ideas woven into the story. One way to maintain your artistic integrity as a writer is to create a separate folder to throw these ideas into as they happen. Experienced writers know that even though they may not be able to use them on one project doesn’t mean it won’t be of service down the line.
I’m a firm believer that everything and anything that excites you, frightens you, and awakens the critic in your mind is worth tracking and or implementing immediately. Whether it’s right or wrong, good or bad, it’s the responsibility of the artist to acknowledge it then decide what to do with it.
The best directors are aware of their surroundings on a micro and macro level, having transcended the futile attempts to deny that which the eye notices and the ideas therein. Great directors have the courage to shift on a dime and fly by the seat of their pants if necessary, knowing deep down inside that these moments aren’t accidents, but golden moments in disguise waiting to be revealed.
Somehow, some way, you need to find a way to honor your artistic integrity. Deep down inside, at the end of the day, your contribution as an actor, writer, and director (whether it’s on one, two, or all three platforms) needs to be heard!
Guy Camilleri is a Venice-based actor, acting coach, and poet. He teaches regular classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings at the Electric Lodge, in Venice. His private coaching specializes in audition preparation, self-taped auditions, and career consultation. To audit a class or book a coaching session, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Guy on Instagram @guycamilleri and Facebook.