Dimiter Marinov: The love of the audience has more value than any Oscar

I hope my masterclasses in Sofia will spur a professional exchange between the Bulgarian and Hollywood acting schools

I don't divide films into “favourites” or any other categories. Every film has its own creative and artistic value. Every film is interesting, regardless of your taste and preferences, says actor Dimiter Marinov in an interview to Europost.

Mr Marinov, would you tell us in more detail about the Screen Acting Academy you're starting in Sofia at the end of November? What has provoked you to launch it and what can its attendees expect from it?

It was not a “provocation” but rather a rediscovery. My meeting with the NATFA students in March rocked my world. Their questions, commentaries and answers to my questions pulled at my heartstrings and got me thinking. Along with that, I felt uneasy because it aroused my sense of responsibility. This uneasiness stemmed from the fact that such young talents, bubbling with energy, ideas and eagerness, gave comments full of so much diffidence, hopelessness and negative criticism, even sarcasm. And their problem does not lie with NATFA, on the contrary - they love the Academy and realise how important their professional training is - but their major concerns were about the future ahead of them. I remembered my own worries back in the day, but then the times were different. These students have provoked my “rediscovery”. I asked myself what I can give them to help them take a look “around the corner”. I felt obliged to do so not only as a professional but also as a human being. I have first-hand information about the way of working in the US. I can demonstrate it and they may experiment with the techniques and the work process in Hollywood. But the most important thing is that this initiative may spur a cultural and professional exchange between the two screen acting schools.

What questions do the students ask you most often?

The list of questions is endless, they all stem from their eagerness to know more, but they also betray their hidden desire to be encouraged and inspired: Am I on the right track? Will what I'm doing now work for me in the future? The key questions pertaining to the profession are: How do you discover and portray a character? What is the right way for a successful performance? How to pick the idea you want to present in the multitude of ideas, and work with it? I don't base my answers to these questions on theory, I let the students practice, give them exercises to do and outline approaches focused on their individual traits. Yes, it is time-consuming, but in the long run the students find answers to their question by themselves. The main personal questions are: How to fight your fears? In what environment should I promote myself? What to do when you are turned down? When answering these questions, I give examples based on my own experience. But I always make sure to clarify that things that worked for me will not necessarily work for them too. However, the most frequent question is: How to deal with competition? My answer always comes as a surprise to them: No one is competing because none of the actors are identical. Whether you will be picked for this or that role is not a question of competition but a preference based on the director's and producer's vision.

What about the groundwork you did for the part of Oleg in Green Book?

They sent the script to me via e-mail two days before the final audition. The aim was to make me acquainted in detail with the story line and my possible part in it. To a great extent it helped me prepare for this audition in terms of interpreting the character I was standing for. It turned out that my vision almost fully agreed with the idea and character interpretation of director Peter Farrelly. A little over a month later, I was on my way to New Orleans. On my first shooting day, the director told me: “Welcome and good luck!” Again, there were no comments or instructions for the role. After the fourth take of the first scene, I asked him if he wants to give me some instructions for my hitherto performance, he only smiled and said: “I have chosen you for the role, haven't I? Do your job as you can do it. I have no comments.” It was shocking but comforting at the same time.

I suppose that auditions are among the most unsparing episodes in the work of an actor, especially when you are still inexperienced. What do you advise your students as regards auditions?

The audition is nothing more than just another chance for an actor to show how he or she can act! Everything else, described as “terrifying”, “unsparing” or “maddening”, results from the erroneous perception of the process and inadequate knowledge of it. Of course, the tension and “butterflies in the stomach” are inevitable, but this fear is actually helpful. The problem is when it develops into panic, which happens more often than not. The stage fright is a measure of your responsibility, concentration and commitment, dictated by your faith in yourself and self-confidence. If you begin second-guessing and wondering if you made the right choice, presentation or preparation, you'd better stay away from the audition.

In a few months the American Film Academy will announce the next Oscar winners. Do you have your own favourites?

I don't divide films into “favourites” or any other categories. Every film has its own creative and artistic value. Every film is interesting, regardless of your taste and preferences, and may be a success with its own audience, be it small or large. The Oscar award is a token of public and professional recognition which, however, doesn't change the quality of the awarded work, neither that of the un-awarded films. To my regret, I haven't had a chance yet to see the Bulgarian nominee for Oscar - Aga, by Milko Lazarov. But I have read very interesting and intriguing reviews about it. I hope to catch it in Los Angeles when it gets screened there. I will do my best to go and see it.

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Dimiter Marinov was born on 6 October 1964 in Sofia. He graduated from the Bulgarian National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts (NATFA) where he majored in acting in the so-called “golden class” of Prof. Krikor Azaryan. In 1990, he went on tour around the US and Canada and decided to stay overseas. In the beginning he settled in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he made a living as a street musician, a dishwasher, worked in a pizza house and later opened his own restaurant. Before his big break in the movie Green Book, he played supporting roles in many cinema and TV productions in the US (Law & Order, Agent Carter, Scorpio, Ray Donovan, Shooter, The Americans, etc.) Currently, he is teaching at the prestigious Actors Studio in Los Angelis, a branch of Universal. From 25 November to 6 December, he will be giving masterclasses in Sofia as part of his Screen Acting Academy.

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