Friday, September 17, 2010

Getting Technical to Actors

Most teaching done for actors is by fellow actors.  That's why I decided to do a couple of seminars-- a director's perspective on the craft of acting.  We recently shot some demos for actors at out studios and I thought about a few technical things I teach in the seminar.  Here are some random things:
Your job is to get as close to theatrical truth as possible.  What makes this hard is the incredibly unnatural atmosphere you must work in to present this truth.
Speaking of which-- on one movie set, a decent actor would complain about this and that.  Don't complain-- the set is a foreign landscape-- it's your job to play through that to present theatrical truth.  Of course things will be tough.  Distracting.  But be a pro.
When your scene mate is getting his coverage, don't talk over his lines-- even if that's the way you did it in the master.  Need the lines clean.  The editor will overlay them so that it seems like you're talking over each other.  But in closeups, you hose your scene mate.
Fighting has to be full speed, no pulling punches.  Otherwise it will look fake.  And BTW, the person who sells a punch being real, is the one receiving it.  The receiver must not react too early or too late.
The best thing you can do is come prepared.  Go past memorization.  Because when you think you've got it memorized, as soon as the director yells action, the pressure of the unnatural landscape will drive the words out of your mind.  Instead of making interesting actor choices, your brain will be focused on simply saying the correct words.  Yuk.

Anyway, just a few random director-to-actor thoughts.


  1. Dan, great post. I am learning tons from you. The wisdom you so willingly shared with the actors the other day was awesome. I am so glad you have that kind of heart, ready to share, ready to impart wisdom from your years of experience. Thanks for continually inspiring people to excel. I think the fruit of your efforts will not only be better actors, or better movies but something more lasting: better people.
    Keep it up!

  2. Very good actor suggestions. Acting (and directing) isn't as easy as some people think.
    I have a caption for this photo-
    Dan- "Children, children! THAT is NOT how I told you to do the scene! Do it this way."
    Courtney (thinking)- "You guys will be lucky to be extras in a crowd scene of the "Millions of People Leave Earth" movie".

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