Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is excited to have as our guest Anthony Meindl author of At Left Brain Turn Right. In addition to being an author, Anthony is among Los Angeles' most respected acting teachers. He is also an accomplished award-winning writer, producer, director and actor. His first feature screenplay, The Wonder Girls, was the Grand Prize Winning Feature Screenplay in the Slamdance Film Festival Screenplay Competition in 2007 and the film is slated for production in 2012 in Berlin. His other credits include Ready? OK! and the feature film Birds of a Feather with Olympia Dukakis, Bruce Vilanch, Trevor Donvan and Lindsay Hollister. At Left Brain Turn Right is his first book.
Good day Anthony and thanks for participating in our interview
What is an acting coach and how does one become a coach? Do you specialize in a particular technique? As a follow up, what are the skills you most value in actors you admire?
Well, normally an acting coach would be someone who helps hone an actor's talents and skills to approach playing a character and developing a role. But the work I do is more life coaching that happens to be experienced through this thing called "acting."
I have developed my own technique over the years and it's based solely on the science of the moment and how to become more present with what we are feeling and experiencing moment-to-moment.
The qualities that are most exciting - to me - in an actor are instinct, spontaneity, danger and a willingness to try. All of this boils down to the moment and the ability to be very present with oneself and one's partner. From there, mysterious moments emerge that when an actor is brave enough to act on -- create fearless, "non-actor-y," exciting expressions of humanity.
I think one becomes a good coach by being an actor himself and also having a great, deep passion to explore truth in the human condition.
How would you define acting for theater and for film?
I have a saying that "acting is acting is acting." Which basically means that all good acting is the same. The medium through which it is expressed might be different, but if the actor is coming at the work from a place of honesty, instinct, listening, fearlessness, presence, joy, passion and truly working moment-to-moment, the medium is transcended. So what we see is the same on stage as on film. In both arenas, we can tell when someone is lying (except that in theatre, people seem to be able to get away with it more often) - but if you just focus on going for truth, the rest will take care of itself.
What is the one thing other people always seem to get wrong about you?
Hmmmmm . . . I don't know. I'd have to ask my assistant. (LOL). Perhaps that because I teach from a scientific and spiritual perspective that connects to the heart of what we all are wanting to generate more of in our lives (more passion, joy, love, creativity, self-expression) - I think people sometimes assume that I have it all together. That if I'm speaking it and know something about it and how to access these things more freely in our lives, that I don't struggle and fail and crash and burn on a regular basis. Well, I do. Perhaps that's why I'm so passionate about teaching alternatives to getting stuck when those things occur. Because I, myself, have been there!
At Left Brain Turn Right is your first book, how did you decide you were ready to write the book and can you share a little of your book with us? Where did you get your information or ideas for your book? What is the underlying message or theme of the book?
Well, I've been
working on it for 7 years. Haha. I mean, I've known for a long time
that I had something I wanted to share with people through a book and
that process (like most creative processes) took a long time. I
think, too, like most creative ideas, I didn't really decide
anything. Something just sort of possessed me and I became a channel
for telling it. I think a lot of dynamic creative work occurs that
Some idea, some inspiration seizes you and then you have to move
forward with giving birth to that thing. It, of course, requires work
on your part. You can't just sit there with the idea and not do
anything with it. You have to act on the idea. And then, since we're
all channels of some sort for information that's unique to each
person, it will sort of take the form and shape that it needs to. I
think that's a big part of creating as well.
We get so focused on how we think things are "supposed to look." They're not supposed to look like anything. Our job is to get out of the way and be - fully - the channel for creative expression. As we do that, it will become what it wants to become. We merely sort of facilitate that process. It's interesting because what I'm writing about right now is a lot of what I discuss in the book and is sort of the genesis of the book itself.
I'm dedicated to help people discover their own latent creative talents and then get out of their own way so that those gifts can be shared uniquely with the world. That's what the book helps artists of all kinds do.
What does your title At Left Brain Turn Right represent?
It really is all about reminding us to keep stepping to the right of our left hemisphere. You need your left brain to balance your check book and write a grocery list and pay your bills. It's not used in creation. In fact, it often impedes our own ability to create. It's the domain of comparisons, criticisms, judgments, doom-and-gloom scenario thinking. It makes us doubt and fear and regret. If we can begin to distinguish the paradigms (and thoughts) of our left-brain dialogues, then we can begin to dismantle them so that they stop holding us back from the self-expression we yearn to experience. From asking someone out on a date to painting a landscape. From singing an aria to taking a long-planned (but never fulfilled) trip to Paris. It's about recognizing the left-brain dialogue that keeps us from living the lives we really want to live.
How has your experiences as an acting teacher, producer, director and actor influence your writing of At Left Brain Turn Right?
Well, it's all influenced me. I mean, just living life influences you, you know? Victories, failures, hopes, disasters, loves, break-ups, breakthroughs, breakdowns, rejections, heartaches, epiphanies, successes, fears, friendships, desires, longings, despairs . . . it's all in there. I mean, all of that stuff -- our lives -- that's the art. That's art. Period. It's life. But all these things that we each individually face on our own journeys are what makes our stories -- our creations -- different than someone else's. Unique. And yet universal. And isn't that what art is, after all? A collective experience shared through an individual perspective.
What has been your overall experience as a published author and how has it been different or similar from being an actor, producer, director and teacher?
Well, they're all very different in many different ways. And also similar. At the end of the day, the means of expression may be different but it's still your work you're putting out there. It's like giving birth to a baby. The projects that artists create -- whether it's a role or a book or a song or a poem or a story or a film -- they've all been given birth by you. So it's personal and weird and wonderful and scary and inspiring and sometimes shitty and messy and never what you expected. Ever. But then, so is life.
Where can our readers find out more about you and At Left Brain Turn Right?
Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?
I just really appreciate you taking the time to ask me such great questions and I hope this interview inspires your readers! If they enjoy the book, I'd love to hear from them personally and I hope that they share it with others. It means so much to me when I hear people tell me how much the book has changed them or inspired them or helped them through a difficult time. That means its purpose is being fulfilled.
Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.