Thursday, April 28, 2011

Affective Memory

Re-reading "The Intent to Live" by Larry Moss and thought I would share a bit about Affective Memory. Legendary acting teacher, Lee Strasberg, used this as a method of pulling up emotional triggers. Basically, you put yourself in a semi-meditative relaxed state and find a moment in your life that conjures up an emotion that you need for your toolbox.

Explore every sensory detail about the event. Recreate the sights, smells, sounds and physical sensations of the moment to the most minute detail. The idea is that eventually you will hit a certain piece that is core to the emotional experience. It could be the smell of perfume, the sight of a picture on the wall, the feel of the carpet under your feet. Grab that core sense and hold onto it.

Later, when you are on stage or in front of the camera and you need that emotion, conjure up that core sensory piece and it will allow everything to flow from that memory. Moss suggests that you create about 5 of these triggers for every emotion. This way you won't wear out a particular event, desensitizing yourself to it and losing its effect. He also says that a certain physical action will come into your head when you delve into the emotion. It could be placing your hand on your stomach or even placing more weight on one leg. Combining this action with the core sensory trigger can create instant results. Just be careful not to turn the action into melodrama!

I HIGHLY recommend Larry Moss's book "The Intent to Live". He takes all of the great acting teachers and presents their methods and tools in a way that is easy to follow with LOTS of great examples from film that you can reference to see what he's talking about.


  1. Thank you so much! I found this post on facebook! I've learned a great deal from this, and thank you for taking the time to write it!

  2. Thank you for reading! More to come.