Actors can be sensitive on set. They typically have their guards up until the camera is rolling. It is important for you as a Director to not intimidate the talent before you get the cameras rolling. Creating an environment where the actor feels safe with relinquishing control during the production is key. Actors want to feel that they are in a familiar place. An experience that reminds them of home, family, things that may be important to them. Of course every director will not cater to every aspect of this, but it is imperative that the actor feels welcomed and not just of service.
Here are a couple of traits that we believe will help with deal with your actors on set:
There are great actors out here who just love the art of improvisation and thinking on their feet, but most actors like to be kept in the loop about changes during the production. If a change to the script has come up, let your actors know as soon as you can so they can be prepared and keep your production running smoothly. Plus it also creates a trust factor in your relationship.
Actors who feel rushed or pressured to nail it on the Director’s cue end up feeling more anxious and unconfident. Your energy as a Director is correlated to the actor’s output for the role. Be sure to encourage your actors through re-takes to help them feel you believe in their capabilities and are there to help them get it right.
The best Director’s are great coaches when it comes to working with actors. You have to not only be able to tell your actors what you want out of their performance, but how they can channel the right energy, or go to the right head space to get that performance. As the Director, you should be providing direction. Pun intended.
Take the actor’s image very seriously. When an actor is shown in their best light, it ultimately makes the Director look good. Plus that actor is more prone to work with you again because you respected their image. This is extremely important for the independent movie circuit as you never know who is the next soon-to-be Oscar winning actor you’ll be working with.
Nothing is worse than having stuff gone wrong on set (and it will), and the Director not being prepared to handle it, course correct, or figure out a way around it. When things go awry, your actors will look to you for direction on what they should do in the situation. The more prepared you are for that, the more respect your actors will have of you and your production.
As a Director you are in control. So these tips are not meant to convey a sense of servitude to the actor by any means. Ultimately, it is the Director’s story that must come to life. The actors are metaphorically the puppets in the story, but you MUST treat them well, make them look good, keep their trust and your projects will reward you consistently. More advanced professionals know this very well. In today’s world we are noticing smaller crews and even one-man armies without resources to recast, scrap production, and re-shoot. Directors in those stages usually learn these tips in a good way or often spend more resources attempting to replace actors. And we all know that takes lots of time and effort to do. So we want you to do your best to get it right the first time.
If you’d like to know more about directing actors, shoot us an email and let’s talk about how we can help your needs.
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