Stanislavski’s 7 Questions for Actors & Animators

Posted by | October 9, 2020 | animation jobs

Recently some of my students have been preparing for this month’s 11 Second Club Competition. This month’s line of dialogue is very short, just a woman’s voice saying “what’s happening?”. 

The rest of the eleven second clip is made up of sound effects – the spooky sound of a siren wailing and distant rain.

All this makes for a very open brief – the scene could be about almost anything, and this permits a great deal of flexibility and creativity.

An open brief can be a good thing – it allows for plenty of invention, but it also presents a challenge – what is the scene really about?  And how do we interpret it?


Start with Your Character – Who Is It?
One solution to this problem is to think about character – who is this person, and what do they want? Animators are actors, which means that we must think hard about our characters wants and desires.

Stanislavski’s Seven Questions
The great Russian actor Constantin Stanislavski suggested that an actor to should ask seven questions to understand the nature of a character.  Stanislavski is considered the father of the “Stanislavski System”, which heavily influenced “The Method”, the acting system whereby an actor immerses themselves into the character in order to create a truly believable and convincing performance.  Stanislavski suggests that there are seven questions that an actor (or animator) should ask themselves to understand who their character truly is:

  • Who am I? Start with the basics and then fill in the gaps with your imagination
  • Where am I?
  • What time is it? 
  • What do I want? 
  • Why do I want it?
  • How will I get what I want? 
  • What must I overcome to get what I want?

School Run by Lee Caller

Who am I? Where am I? And what do I want?
For practical purposes, we can boil this down to three essential questions: Who am I? Where am I? And what do I want? Answer these three questions and you are well on your way to creating a scene that is meaningful and interesting. Remember this basic point: if you don’t know what your scene is about – your audience won’t either.
Victoria Bailey 11 Second Club Below is Animation Apprentice Victoria Bailey’s take on a past 11 Second Club entry. 

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