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Directing actors privately or publicly


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#1 Alex Donkle

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 12:40 AM

Just something I'm working on more with a larger crew around me, but I'm curious how the people here handle the choice of talking to actors in private about characters (i.e. pulling them out of earshot inbetween takes) compared to just tossing ideas out in the middle of the set where everyone can listen in.
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#2 timHealy

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 02:51 AM

Directors have many different styles in the way in which they work. I worked on an Ang Lee film once where he always went over and spoke to the actors in such a low voice that if you were not right next to him you could not hear what he said. Since I do not like yelling and screaming on a set, I respected his quiet manner.

Sydney Lumet was known for doing all of his rehearsals before shooting actually stated so on the day the actors were well aware of what he was looking for.

On War of the Worlds Spielberg used a megaphone most of the time, but that was a big job with a lot of crew and extras.

And then there is everything in between.

Best

Tim
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#3 Paul Bruening

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 10:55 AM

Good question. I've never directed with a big crew or a lot of extras. But, on a small production I know that the set can get quirky. It's something that happens at the perceivable energy level; It's a psychological thing- Some actors can "feel" the crew. It's not just that actors tend to be emotionally sensitive. It's that they are sometimes hyper-perceptive in order to create instant chemistry with their fellow performers. Now, here's the weird part- Sometimes they can "feel" some of the crew as well. I had a leading lady (by far the hottest, most stunningly beautiful woman I have ever directed) who insisted that she could "feel" our boom operator. She said she could feel his hands all over her and it was creeping her out. It was really screwing up her performance (I suspect much of the crew was having private thoughts and moments over her). She ended up quiting soon after but only because I fired the leading man, not knowing that they were having an off-the-set affair.

That was a long way around saying that crew expectations can overly influence actors' performances. Depending on the crew and the sensitivity of the actors, I could see how rehearsals and private directing instructions could be very useful to get around the crew influence thing.
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#4 Jim Keller

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 05:12 PM

I'm going to come down firmly in the "it depends" camp. For a direction like, "move your mark about six inches to your left" I have no compunction about screaming it out for all the world to hear. For something like, "as you're coming down the step we can see up your skirt," I'm going to keep it as private as possible. In between, you need to get a sense of both your set and your actors.

Some actors worry that others think they're in trouble if you come over to talk to them privately, and are perfectly comfortable with everyone hearing their directions. Others are quite sensitive about everyone hearing what they're doing "wrong" and prefer the quiet consultation. It's a lot like parenting. There's no one right answer. It all depends on the individuals and the situation. And you won't get it right every time, but if you listen to your actors with the same intensity you expect them to listen to you with, you shouldn't have any trouble getting a sense of who they are and how to get the best results out of them.
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#5 Robert Sawin

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Posted 24 November 2008 - 11:17 PM

Just something I'm working on more with a larger crew around me, but I'm curious how the people here handle the choice of talking to actors in private about characters (i.e. pulling them out of earshot inbetween takes) compared to just tossing ideas out in the middle of the set where everyone can listen in.


It is always good to talk with every actor individually about the script and the story in general more specifically the back story way in advance. there is really no need to rehearse the hell out of a scene especially with the rest of the actors. I believe it just wastes everybody's time making them all come for some rehearsal. A professional actor should be more then capable to bring him or her self to the set ready and prepared the way they are accustom to. The director is only there to serve the vision of the script and to guide the actors. In reality there all actors have there own voice finding out how they act first should help you figure out how they will act on set. Encourage them to keep an open mind about how they see the story and there character. If you come to the set already having pre conceived ideas as how exactly you want them to act be prepared to be disappointed. also it is a highly recommended that you let the actors mingle before you shoot observe there interaction let them rehearse the scene just before it is shot with out any direction see how they see the scene. You never know you may stubble upon something you never thought of. When shooting let them finish but after you cut it is more then ok to direct them in effort to mold there performance in front of the other actors. Remember the director is at the hem of the ship and people need to be assured that you have every thing under control even if you think you don't and never just rely on your self for the vision keep the environment as open as posable you never know what easter egg may pop up.

Hope this helps

Regards
Robert Sawin
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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

Technodolly

Tai Audio

Abel Cine

Ritter Battery

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