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How to Direct Actors

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  • How to Direct Actors

    Acting is tough, and getting the best performance out of your actors is not easy. Even natural actors need direction.

    I never had a desire to direct or even be part of theatre or film. But, my girlfriend at the time wanted to be a costume designer. We went to a local theatre company production, where she felt she could have done a better job at costuming than they did. I went the following day and got her an internship. One night while she was working, she heard they needed a Stage Manager and suggested me. I had no idea what the job entailed. It turned out I was to sit on book at rehearsals. If the director wasn't there I was to watch and take notes. I worked the lights and sound (pre computer and CD) and gave notes after each act and performance. I was luckily paid for this and did it for ten years.

    If you're young and want to be a Director, it could help you immeasureably to volunteer your time at the local theatre. To sit and watch a competent Director get the best performances out of their actors is pure gold.

    While I never directed a play or movie before shooting my movie, I found from day one of shooting, I was using all the knowledge I inherited from watching rehearsals and performances all those years.

    Volunteer just to hold book at rehearsals.

    In all my years of working at the theatre, I only asked one question about playwriting. What's the most important thing to know when writing a play? The Producer/Director didn't take a second to answer "Every word has to count". Great plays, that's so true.

  • #2
    Sounds a good idea to me. In my current film I feel that I'm being a little awkward when directing my actors because I've never done it before. Bare that in mind, I'm asking them to kidnap the other actor, scream and sell injuries. I tend to apologies for sounding like a budding psychopath to them.
    "Nobody knows anything"


    • #3
      Very good advice. Thanks!



      • #4
        Not a bad idea. I'm currently on summer break and I can already tell I'm going to have a lot of free time on my hands.
        But what do you mean by "holding book at rehearsals"?


        • #5
          BUMP not gonna let this great topic and NEEDED topic to die!


          • #6

            go to town.


            • #7
              Here's the main methods/things to look for, I've learned and used so far & usually use.

              1. Do not tell them to "act mad" or "act happy" it creates an unrealistic portrayal of emotions because your giving them their emotions for them.
              2. Use examples "like you were" or "as if" It helps because it's a more plausible situation and brings out real life experiences.
              3. Your actors should trust you. What actor would open up to a director they are afraid to mess up in front of?
              4. Compliment them. And when they mess up. Compliment them again. Actors can be fragile especially since they're diving into a whole other person's soul. Plus if they get mad at you and leave, your movie is screwed.
              5. Give them freedom and space. Actors are there to act. And you are there to direct. Let them do what they're there for. Trust me, they will love you for this when you're not breathing down their neck. Yes they require direction to an extent, but don't get too caught in how it should look picture perfect. One of the best things about film-making is improvisation & experimentation.
              6. Come prepared. If you don't know what you want. Neither will the actor.

              One of the best tips I've ever read was when you have an idea of how a scene should go in your head, let it go. Hope this helped! Again these are just my methods, it varies with different people.


              • #8
                Scream at them until they do what you want...

                Oh wait, that is what NOT to do...

                I have always had trouble keeping cool, getting the shot right, and directing the actors at the same time. One thing I have found is that you must stay calm so you can think straight.
                Red Onyx Productions