David Fincher’s Repetition to Achieve a Perfect Scene with Actress Monika Gossmann
Owen Shapiro 00:04
Welcome to Kino Society with Owen Shapiro. In today’s episode, we have actress Monika Gossmann known for Iron Sky, Mank, and Maximum Impact. Welcome to Kino Society.
Monika Gossman 00:23
Hi, thank you for having me.
Owen Shapiro 00:25
So what made you want to get a career in the film industry?
Monika Gossman 00:28
Wow, that’s a good question. What was it, it’s not that I was looking for like a right career in the film industry. I wanted to be in the arts. And I started with dancing. And then I continued moving into acting. And I think the most important subject that I had or goal was to have a voice in the arts.
Owen Shapiro 00:58
Alright, so what’s an average workday like for you,
Monika Gossman 01:01
I wouldn’t say there is an average workday. That’s the thing about being an artist you, you have to be very flexible with what’s coming up for you. So sometimes, it’s a since I’m also teaching, I’m a professor at the University of Florida, and I teach acting, sometimes it is usual early morning, teaching, and then writing on scripts or on on papers, and then you might have a casting and then you pick up your son from daycare and and sometimes the day starts with shooting things. Sometimes it starts at 6pm with the shooting day overnight, so there’s not really a ever like a normal day, like an everyday routine that you follow. So that changes depending on if you work for theater film, if you’re right now teaching or if you’re constantly writing because you have a deadline to fill. So my days are very different.
Owen Shapiro 02:20
What about your routine on set? Is there anything in terms of that.
Monika Gossman 02:24
So might be a routine that I personally have for getting into characters. That’s one thing. And the other thing is, normally you come on set depends The time is really depends on the director depends on the location depends on what time of the day is asked, and then normally go right into makeup and costume. Sometimes you don’t get the full costume and the full makeup and then you rehearse the scenes. And then once you you know the scene, and approximately what’s about to happen, then you go into completing the makeup, completing them the costume, and then you shoot. And depending on how many scenes there are, you rehearse again, and depending on what director you have, sometimes it takes just a day to to do one scene, sometimes it takes some a few days to do one scene, sometimes you have eight scenes during one day. So then Normally, you can work longer than 12 hours, and then you’re done. Sometimes you’re lucky. And you’re just there for for a few hours. But mostly, you’re there the full day. Yeah. So that’s a normal routine. And then you have one hour of lunch break. And then that’s pretty much it.
Owen Shapiro 03:56
What about your routine for getting into character.
Monika Gossman 03:58
So the preparation starts normally before you are unset in your house, in your home, wherever you are. Because you have to. To break down the character you have to when you’re lucky, you have the chance to work with the director before you go on set. And depending on how much time you have, you, you, you you go and prepare the character. I guess every good actor is different but I need for sure a few weeks to just get into the character to analyze to feel it to have it melt, you analyze shorter, but to get it into your system takes a little while. So if you if you have the chance then it’s actually good if you have to three weeks at least to get into the characters your body and your mind is completely absorbed by that and and then when when I get on set I I just have a little my own routine that I won’t share here, my private routine that I have to get into character. But I’m not one of the actors who was then while I’m shooting something, the character, so I’m not going around being a certain character for weeks. I go on set, I become character and then on screen, and then I’m leaving the character. Because I find it very difficult to stay in character all the time. I know some actors do that. I honestly don’t know how they do it. Because it’s, it’s so yeah, it’s so consuming, energy consuming and life consuming to be dedicating all of the time to one character. So I’m, I’m, I’m one of the actors who come on set and work on the or become the character. I am the character. I mean, you have the the whole environment supporting you with being that character. But once I’m done, being on set, I am not in character, and also not during the breaks in between. I’m only in character when when we work on the scene.
Owen Shapiro 06:19
Do you think your experience as a teacher maybe has helped you acting?
Monika Gossman 06:24
Well, for sure. Teaching is also constant training that you’re getting right while you teach you also train your acting muscles. Right? And then you’re also since you’re working mostly within people, you kind of like always experiencing a certain Zeitgeist. Right? So you’re always kind of like up to date? what’s what’s happening. So for sure, think that while you teach you also learn? That’s for sure.
Owen Shapiro 06:57
Do you think that acting in the immensely the David Fincher film make gave you more opportunities in the business?
Monika Gossman 07:09
Definitely open doors doors for me to be acknowledged more than in the states for sure. Then, then I would have had maybe, Yes, I think so. Because it’s a question of trust, right? Because film is a lot of money, right? So people who will do movies to put their money into movies, they, they want an outcome, they cannot book someone and be like, oh, that didn’t work out, right. So they have to be sure that the product or they’re buying is something meaning the actor is something that is going to support the film, the product, the end product. So if you’re new in the business you need that person goes like, Oh, I trust this person that this person is going to do it. Right. So once you have that director who trusted you, then the other ones are more likely to be like, Oh, yeah, we can or directors and also for film productions, and also streaming companies or like, channels, they’re more likely to book you because they know Oh, she or he, they worked with this and this person and their work for this and that channel, that means we’re working with a professional. So they don’t have that question of Oh, she’s gonna is she gonna be able to deliver? You know? So yeah, for sure. That’s very important.
Owen Shapiro 08:51
So how much of acting do you think is talent and how much of it is hard work? Maybe a bit of creativity.
Monika Gossman 09:00
I really think that some people have a lot of talent, but they are not willing to learn. And some people have maybe less talent, but they’re hard workers. And I think that the second option would then win. So I think you need both for sure. But it’s it’s a question of how much effort Do I need to put into this, depending on how much talent I’m bringing in? Right so it’s, it’s, it’s it’s a difficult question to be answering, oh, you just need to work or Oh, you just need to have talent. I think it needs both. And, and some people have more talent, and some people have less, but depending on how much work you put in, you’re going to get the results even though it may be you have less talent, right because By the end of the day, it’s it’s also it’s a job, right? It’s, it’s something you can learn.
Owen Shapiro 10:08
So which of your works? are you most proud of? And maybe Are there any that were particularly challenging to pull off?
Monika Gossman 10:16
Well, in general, for now, I think that I have more theater work that that that brought me to certain limits, I would say, right, when you’re in stage for two hours, performing in the foreign language. And so I think that for now, in my career, these were the roles who, who really gave me that stamina to perform also on film, on not only on stage. So yeah, for for film, I am pretty happy with the results in manque. Because it was not a big girl. And that was the difficulty for her. Because she she was there and I think 12 scenes, but she’s acquired role. And to an end, it’s film. So you need to be living in that environment, like in theater, but you’re not shown all the time, right. So. So that was pretty difficult, because you have to be there, your silent role, and you hope that the camera will capture that. So I’m very happy with the results that we get for free there. Because it was an effort. With Fincher together that we put into that to make something out of her, where you still remember that character, you don’t go like, oh, who was that? We don’t remember her? I think she’s still leaves with the little appearance and speech that she has, she still leaves a certain impression.
Owen Shapiro 11:59
So how was it work with David Fincher?
Monika Gossman 12:03
Oh, it was great, overall, amazing, because he is a full on professional, he is a inspiring, very loving person with lots of humor, and just so much knowledge, and he has this gut feeling for things. And that, that’s all. That’s all I love about him and to be working with him, is also very fulfilling, because he pushes you to your limits. He can, he’s one of the directors that can take over 60, 80 takes for one of the same shot. And that means you’re constantly working, you’re constantly repeating, repeating and repeating where you go, like, wow, what like how else can I? How else so you will never never have the question like, Oh, I could have, I could have done the scene, this in that way. And never, I never did it. Because Fincher gives you the opportunity to do everything. Right, he takes the time to, to really get you as deep as you can into that role by repetition. And besides that, he puts you in in the best frame, by knowing the technical side. So well, a film that, you know, you’re going to look good, you can trust that director full on, because he knows exactly how to set up the scene. He knows exactly how to set the frame, the lights, the camera, that means he controls all of it. And he knows that better than maybe the people who are doing the department, right. And the only thing is he supports all of that the only thing you have to do then is show up know your lines and be in character. And he gives you the opportunity to to to dive into that and really explore it. So you’re going to be completely tired after working with him and worked out and this is amazing, because you’re training your your actors body, your actors muscles, and you’re very grateful for that. So you can get very addicted to Fincher, I would say as an actor.
Owen Shapiro 14:36
So you’ve also worked in theater, right? How different is that from working gain? Acting because you mentioned also make felt a bit more like theater?
Monika Gossman 14:46
Well, I mean, it’s different because you have that repetition, right? We have rehearsals and film Normally, you don’t have the privilege to rehearse because it’s again a question of money. And although we had table rates and rehearsals with Fincher, that’s a big difference that that normally doesn’t exist. I mean, it’s lovely when it happens. But normally, you don’t have that rehearsal time and table read time before the actual shooting day where you would rehearse. So that repetition makes the big difference, right. And you will have that with Fincher, it gives you time to repeat and, and rehearse it over and over again. Well, in theater, you do that for weeks before you open the show. In with Fincher, you would have the whole day to rehearse and repeat and repeat and repeat. But then we also had rehearsals before that they were shorter than theater time, but we still had them. And he likes to run the scene completely to not do pickups, right pickups means you just pick up a few lines or just one line, he likes to run the whole scene. So you get that atmosphere of really the ensemble working together. And that just one person deliver lines, right. So yeah, so that’s the big difference with theater. And, and film also theater, you would run the whole play, and film that will never happen. You go scene by scene, obviously. And the scenes are often shot not in the continuous order. Sometimes you start with the end, then you go middle, then you go beginning, right. So you don’t have this arc, that you normally can build up in theater for character from beginning middle end. You don’t you can never actually experience it once from the beginning till the end, because film is never shut that way. At least not for me to experience it. Maybe there are projects that are said that way, but they’ve never actually heard of that, to be honest.
Owen Shapiro 17:15
So do you have any favorites movies, directors or actors?
Monika Gossman 17:19
Of course, I have that. Well, Funny enough, Fincher is one of my fair he’s the favorite actor than I always had. I grew up my childhood or more so my, my teenage time was filled with Fincher movies and I continued watching his movies I really like his way of shooting his rhythm. He I really enjoy what he does I there are a couple of actors like Benicio Del Toro that I love, Naomi Watts and they’re like, oh, tons more but these are the ones that right now come to my my head I obviously also am a big fan of Brad Pitt. They think he’s an amazing actor who was able to transform tremendous and Gary Oldman so working with Gary Oldman was was a big privilege and a big honor actually, another director that that I like a lot is Scorcese for example. And so many more i like i like also old movies, movies, like a man and a woman like all the French all the old classical Russian directors and movies, really joy, Italian some cinematography like also Fellini and all the classical ones. So it’s very difficult to, to just pinpoint just one, right or just a few names. So I think to be to be in this profession, you have to be kind of hooked. to film to be doing it right to, to love me personally, I love different genres, different styles, and areas of movie, they have their own reason to be here to be acknowledged and to still continue living. A good movie. You can see all movies from Isaac Stein and still love them. Because there are tarkowski because there was something a bigger idea behind that, that continues to live even if these people are not existing anymore, like good drama, right or good plays or a good novel will continue to live or good painting, right? That still speaks For something that stands for something, that’s art to me.
Owen Shapiro 20:05
What would you say to someone who wants to enter the world of cinema?
Monika Gossman 20:09
Don’t do it. Or do it if you really, really winded because it’s gonna be a long way. And if do it, but never never give up if you’re in that field, because it’s full of competition, it’s full of closed doors, it’s full of doubt of self, just continue doing it. And never never give up. When you once you enter it big because this is a roller coaster of like ups and downs and you have to be ready for it. Regardless if you’re an actor, director, cinematographer, whatever you become, to the only if it’s a full on passion.
Owen Shapiro 20:52
So do you have any current projects?
Monika Gossman 20:54
Yes, I’m shooting right now in Kazakhstan and Russia. I’m working for a show called Shaman and I’m the female lead there, and I’m playing the evil shaman woman that seduces the lead actor all the time, or forces him to do certain things that’s for a Russian channel or TV channel. And what’s coming up is the show Staircase for HBO, which I’m going to be shooting in Atlanta in fall. Right now we’re in doing table reads through Zoom, which is exciting, because that doesn’t happen often either to have table rates. And I’m very happy to to be part of that project. So these are the next two things are like right now I’m doing Shaman already and then Staircase is coming up.
Owen Shapiro 21:54
So how can my listeners find and connect with you?
Monika Gossman 21:57
I’m on social media. You can find me there or through my agent or my PR manager. You can find me on my website. There’s multiple ways to find me.
Owen Shapiro 22:08
Thank you so much for your time, Monika. And that’s that’s all for today. Don’t forget you can subscribe to Kino Society on iTunes and Spotify.
Monika Gossman 22:17
Thank you Owen.