Directing Actors: Getting the Right Performance
Duration: 5 days
Capacity: Max. 9 participants
“In all the years I have been directing fiction films I have rarely come across an actor who genuinely didn’t want to help me to achieve my vision. That they sometimes failed was as much to do with my failure to help them inhabit their characters as any inability or lack of talent on their part. So from where does this difficulty in communication come?
"The answer, I suspect, is rather simple. Those of us who have not taken the route to film making through the performing arts tend to take a lot of time and trouble dealing with and getting to know the hardware – the camera. We do this because, in order to learn the language of the cinema, it seems self-evident we should concentrate on mastering the principal tool of that language. Then there is sound, the sets, the colours, the costumes, make-up, prosthetics - explosions! – not to mention editing. All such incredibly technical and complicated stuff.
"And as for the actors, well, just what is the problem with being angry or sad, cool, happy or mad just like it says in the script? Why can’t they simply say the lines and move from one mark to the next without making a huge fuss?”
"That’s what this course will try to find out.”
In this intensive 5-day workshop, director Udayan Prasad (THE TUNNEL, MY SON THE FANATIC, SILENT WITNESS) guides participants through the fundamental techniques for directing actors. Designed for directors with some filmmaking experience, but little understanding or training in the performing arts, the course looks at how actors are trained and the methods they use in order to work effectively with the director to bring the characters to life.
In order to understand what an actor requires from a director, participants will fulfil the roles of both actor and director during the workshop, reversing roles with their fellow participants.
This exploration of the actor/director relationship will include:
- What is ‘acting’? Participants will take part in practical acting exercises.
- The actor/director relationship. Trust, Collaboration, Delegation.
- The dangers of preconceived performance. Rather than trying to choreograph every single aspect of an actor’s performance, this course will demonstrate the value of allowing actors to use their own imaginations in bringing their characters to life.
- The actor’s toolbox. What’s in it? And how do you ensure that the actor can use these tools?
- Actor’s Methodologies. Participants examine some of the different methodologies that actors use when preparing to inhabit their characters.
- Giving notes to actors. The need for clarity and simplicity. How much information? When and how to give notes? Playable notes and the need for verbs.
- The importance of the story. Everything begins and ends with the story: the imperative of seeing the world through the eyes of the character. What are the character’s objectives and needs? What are the given facts about the character in the screenplay?
The final three days of the course will be spent rehearsing with professional actors. Using individual scenes from feature films the participants will direct the rehearsal, putting into practice the techniques explored during the previous days. On the final day time will be given over to discuss the intricacies of the casting process.
By the end of the course participants will have a rich understanding of how to communicate and collaborate with actors.
"I needed to learn more about directing actors, and this seemed to be the best course of its kind. From the moment the workshop started it was clear that we participants were in the hands of a masterful director who was at all times totally transparent about his experiences and his views on what made a great practitioner of directing films. The actors we rehearsed with were fantastically talented also. Working with them was a real highlight.
I am making my first feature later this year and I feel that this workshop has changed the way I'm going to prepare, for the better. It's given me more tools to use as a director working with actors, but most importantly, I now feel confident about what my role as director fully entails. I'm totally looking forward to the process of making the film, rather than embarking on that process with a sense of trepidation.
I was initially concerned about paying so much for a workshop, but I needn't have worried; my experience on this course has been invaluable."
Oliver, February 2016
"I attended your 5-day workshop in the summer of 2011. I'd like to let you know that I'm now in preproduction of my first feature film HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM, co-funded by Slovenian film fund, co-produced with German & Croatian coproducers and HBO Europe.
Your workshop gave me highly valuable knowledge that I practiced afterwards in many situation - from directing kids to non-actors, from fiction to documentaries. And I really felt much more comfortable and confident.
In my feature film I will work with an older actor who, in the 1980s, starred in three blockbusters with Jackie Chan. During a test shoot he told me that I really know how to direct. I've received feedback like this several times. So, once again many thanks for great workshop and giving me/us the knowledge to move on bigger projects."
Ziga Virc, September 2013
HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. Catch it at the 2016 BFI London Film Festival on 7th & 8th October.