Directing Actors: Getting the Right Performance

Fully Booked

Directing Actors: Getting the Right Performance

Sat, 17 Nov 2018 to Wed, 21 Nov 2018

Duration: 5 days
Times: 9.30am-5.30pm
Capacity: Max. 9 participants
Fee: £700 10% Early Bird discount available until 7th October 2018.

This course is now full, however we are still accepting applications for the waitlist.

“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.”

Read Udayan Prasad's full introduction here.

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 and screened at the 2016 BFI London Film Festival. 


Tutor profile: Udayan Prasad, Director

Udayan Prasad has been directing documentaries, television drama and feature films since graduating from the National Film & Television School in Beaconsfield, UK. Among his numerous television credits are three single dramas written by Simon Gray for BBC Television - THEY NEVER SLEPT 1989, RUNNING LATE 1992 (Golden Gate Award for Best Television Feature1993), FEMME FATALE 1992.  Two other single dramas, both written by Alan Bennett and also for BBC Television, were - 102 BOULEVARD HAUSSMANN 1991 (Golden Gate Award for Best Television Feature1991, BAFTA Nomination for Best Single Drama 1991), TALKING HEADS 2: PLAYING SANDWICHES 1998 (BAFTA Nomination for Best Single Drama 1998). More recently he directed two episodes of THE TUNNEL 2013 for Sky Atlantic and two episodes, including the finale, of THE MUSKETEERS 2016 for BBC TV.

His first theatrical feature was BROTHERS IN TROUBLE, 1995 (Golden Alexander Award for Best First Feature at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival). This was followed by MY SON THE FANATIC, 1997 (Directors Fortnight Cannes Film Festival, Best Feature at the Potsdam Film Festival), GABRIEL & ME, 2000 (Edinburgh Film Festival) and OPA!, 2005 (Toronto International Film Festival). His latest feature THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF (Sundance Film Festival) was released in the United States in 2010.

When not actively involved in a production, he is a frequent visiting lecturer on directing and screenwriting programmes at several film schools including The National Film & Television School in Beaconsfield, UK; London Film School; The Wajda School in Warsaw and the National Film, Television and Theatre School in Łódź́́, Poland. He is also an advisor and mentor on various international directing and screenwriting workshops.