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Filmmaking / Directing : In this filmmaking/DIRECTING forum by Doug Nelson

Doug Nelson

In this filmmaking/DIRECTING forum

Does anyone in here actually discuss or know anything about the fine art of directing - above & beyond scene blocking - Like how to get the best performance from actors...?

Jake Pasley

Should they not join in if they don't? Lets not go down this road.

Kevin Gamble

Watch the making of The Shining haha

Doug Nelson

Jake - I don't understand your comment - why not talk about the finer points of film directing? I certainly would like to have a meaningful and educational discussion regarding the very complicated art/craft of directing.

Jorge J Prieto

I worked as Assistant Director for a Theater company for eleven years, over a dozen different Directors and good Directors give you space to explore, to try different things. Me as an actor was always prepared, open to try anything and when stuck ask the Director for help. I've only done one film, in 2016, small budget, so I had my lines, shot the short scene six times or so, was told good job and left. For me is technique and knowing when to used those Meisner Techniques I learned in classes and when to used them. Listening is number one. Don't know if any of this answers your questions Doug, but I try Sir.

Jake Pasley

Doug - It seems I owe you an apology because I misunderstood your comment. I thought you were trying to criticize inexperience individuals.

Thomas Fucci

The key to a director getting a great performance out of an actor is to first not believe you are "getting a great performance out of an actor". The director is not acting. The actor is acting. If the director and actor are prepared, on set the less said the better. The actor is exploring the part and if you give him or her room (assuming he or she knows what they are doing), the conversation should work around different "directions" the director might suggest the actor take the role to bring a deeper and nuanced performance take to take - part of what was hopefully discussed during prep. I have found when an actor is over-directed he or she gets lost and is often unsure of where the role should go. That's why prep is so important. Not so much to learn lines and nail marks but to understand the story, character and build a trusting relationship between the actor and the director. If I am going to work with an actor, the first thing I do is bring the actor to lunch, neutral ground - not my office. Not one word is spoken about the script or the story during that lunch. I want to know the actor and get the actor to know me. That is key to trust and performance.

Rich Goldstein

First, each story has a spine and each character has a spine. When you know the story and characters inside and out, and are fully prepared when production begins, your job as a director will be less stressful. My scripts get filled in with lots of margin notes to keep me on track for continuity. Second, hire the absolute best actor for the part. If you haven't found that one perfect person, keep looking until you do. Never settle. Life as a director is easier this way. Then, set up the scene for the actors, and the beats and character arc for each scene (I normally speak one-on-one to each actor about their goal for the scene). I will run through blocking several times with out running lines, for both actors and camera. Ask if they have questions. If they're good I say action and and let the actors do the work. I've been amazed at how often they nail it on the first take. I really feel that a lot of it is in the people you hire, and the level of your communication about the characters to those actors.

Royce Allen Dudley

I know volumes. And of those volumes, much comes from experience, much comes from observation of other directors on set, and from decades of watching actors do their thing. There are numerous schools of thought on directing, and no single way is right every time for all people. In general, casting actors who can work well together is huge a starting ( or stumbling) point.

Doug Nelson

Jake; I absolutely will not (ever!) criticize any person for their lack of experience PERIOD. I go out of my way to offer support, knowledge, understanding and guidance to inexperienced individuals whenever & however I can. I have the utmost respect for those who seriously want to learn. I see myself as a tough taskmaster; I'll hold your feet to the fire and I'll critique your performance - but I will never criticize anyone. I have no time for nor use for big talking little doers.

Ken Koh

This cost a little. But it's the best deal around to learn directing https://www.masterclass.com/classes/ron-howard-teaches-directing?utm_sou...

Vasco Phillip de Sousa

If you want to discuss how to get the best out of actors, you might discuss this with actors. I find that you basically listen to the actors, and get to know them and the script, and it will come almost organically. What will work with one actor will not with the next, and what will work with one script may not with another.

I remember one film festival in Tucson where the filmmaker said how he gained a realistic performance from a six year old. It's too long to discuss here, but let's just say it wouldn't work in a lot of other scripts, or with a 16 year old or a three year old. (Watch the making of "Kramer vs Kramer" for another take on the same challenge.)

The director's job is to bring everyone else together creatively. This means trusting everyone else to know what they are doing, and treating people like individuals.

Dan MaxXx

Paul Haggis keeps it simple. He has 4 instructions for directing actors: more, less, faster, slower.

That is it.

Ken Koh

One of the best ways to be a better director is to learn and do some acting yourself. At least, it actually helped me understand actors and acting. And how better to communicate.

Doug Nelson

Vasco - You've nailed it. In order to act, you must first learn to listen, but how is the best method that a Director can use to accomplish that - without alienating the actors. Basically what do you see as the best method to bring actors 'on-point and in the moment'?

Sam Borowski

Doug I have directed five films, including three shorts, one of which qualified for the Oscars. I also teach an acting and filmmaking workshop, so if you want some tips, I am happy to give them to you. Too much to put something here other than a generic tip. I think directing actors is one of the greatest jobs in the world. (I've also produced 13 pictures and assisted the directors on the shows where I wasn't directing.) Message me on here and let's talk. Love your passion! ;)

Doug Nelson

Sam - sounds like you have quite a pedigree and it would be generous of you to share some with fellow forumites. Myself; I started with Dad (Robert) back in the 60's on Lilies of the Field and Charley (OSCAR) but drifted off to writing and Line Producer gigs. Please share your tips with all.

Doug Nelson

Guess not.

Debbie Croysdale

There is an endless carousel of versions of “How to direct” and endless Gurus and students salivating for “The magic bullet.” The simple truth is its down to the individual. I got my butt in front of twenty Seasoned film directors, and none were the same. (Apart from the OBVIOUS necessities of scene blocking, visuals, back-storey of character for actors etc etc.) One theme that is rarely discussed is the Spiritual aspect of directing. Refreshingly, Jonas Grimas discussed this with me this year and I was chuffed Im not the only person that thinks this way. The personal idea for a film, is a thought or seed that has no physical components, and the director is the protector of this initial feeling. I feel deeply about characters that spring into my head when writing a script, and that Im a conduit/catalyst/vessel to give birth to them when directing. Another director recommended sounds, tastes and smells from the script while actors were rehearsing. This worked particularly well for me out in Andalucia where I wanted a female gangster to bully her partner. I got location permission to build a Dakota pit (smokeless fire) in an Avocado field and the nastiness I wanted did get more visceral. The actress became the street girl turned vice queen who remembered her Stepfather and burning him at age 13. This

Debbie Croysdale

Sorry train jolted so I cut off early. Re above. This is an ENDLESS TOPIC to be continued...........Great question @Doug.

Doug Nelson

Yes Debbie, the art/craft of directing is indeed a complicated and never ending/always changing topic. I thought there would be more folks in a Directing forum that would get involved in the subject - unfortunately, it seems that I'm what I like to refer to as wrong. I think I'll go talk about directing in the Actor's forum.

Cathy Yeater

I've only had the privilege of directing a few short videos in college, but I found that the best way to get the perfect performance from an actor is give them an example from their own life to draw from. Need a good 'first kiss' scene? Ask them about their first kiss in real life. Need an emotional plea? ask them about the worst thing that had ever happened to them. Use their memories, and then set the scene.

Gregory Green
Debbie Croysdale

@Doug LOL Don’t leave the sinking ship like a Rat to switch to actors forum......The show ain’t over till the fat lady sings! More people have joined the thread since your last input! I expect to see you here again. Ive a lot more to add but Im in transit with only a mobile phone so would rather reply when Im on my desktop to add some footage from this year at London Film School. @All thanks for added input.

Doug Nelson

Thanx Debbie - I'm not jumping ship; I'm just relocating to a different deck. Ole R.B. has set this forum up for Filmmaking/Directing as if the two are one & the same - they are not! I would like to see him split it into its separate components (not likely to happen). During the past several years, I've run into numerous young filmmakers who told me that they really want to be Directors. So I gave them award winning short scripts, told them to go direct 'em - I'd cover the cost of production. NOT A ONE has even come close. They don't seem to understand that directing is more than just strutting on the set playing God while yelling 'action & cut' - no, we need a Directing Forum. Maybe I'll have more luck talking with Actors - maybe not. If not, I'll jump ship - I got a lot of irons in the fire.

Debbie Croysdale

@Doug its a soul destroying thought “Not one has come Close.” The script material has obviously gone to the wrong people. There are young directors out there that can cut the mustard and its probably an equally bitter pill for them to swallow that they have not been afforded the opportunity of an award winning script, as it is for you to receive tardy feedback from winning scripts you gave out. Its a never the twain shall meet situation! Yet small windows of light sometimes appear that are often unplanned. Its interesting you talk about talking to actors, one side of being a director that is often overlooked is Actor/Director Collaboration. An Actor and Director have to open up and merge with each other, to create the third being, the character. If the director is a separate entity, just shouting cut and giving physical commands (as you rightly pointed out) their is no mutual unison or growth. I did a few rehearsals for one of my shorts, with different groups/ professional agencies and the character that most came alive for the lead, was a film school actress. It was down to the collaboration. We BOTH led the “Siren” where she needed to go, and got a standing ovation from audience. Art will out! We need to be strong and carry on. My next input will be about cutting at emotional beats being the norm, yet its not often necessary, NOT cutting at emotional beats can add heightened tension and in some situations add a different dimension. Received my “Go Gate” sign airport so need cut off now. Hasta Luego!

Doug Nelson

Yes Debbie - It's obvious that those scripts went to the wrong people but unfortunately there seem to be no right people in my neighborhood.

Shanghai Jack Neal

I film short Social Media Commercials through local Chamber of Commerce for about 5 different cities - I take a person who "HATES" the camera - Can't remember Lines - BUT is passionate about their business - My favorite people... I produce BTS before & after of taking a person who loves their business & blooming a 60 sec commercial that delivers passion instead of TIVO commercial grave yards... I combine a few methods that work for the future client & they bloom!! - They always love it because they Hate the camera ...(Until we meet & produce a wonderful commercial)... Doug if I can do this ... You will produce master pieces!!! The hunger to learn is most important & to generate professional enthusiasm...Then capture the heck out of it... ;)

Sam Borowski

I will say this, Doug, that one word is KEY: Trust. An actor has to Trust their director. To me, directing is similar to therapy in this way (and this is not any kind of put down). An actor has to feel safe - safe to be vulnerable, safe to expose themselves, safe to share their truths - with a director. If they Trust their director in what they feel is a safe environment, actors will bleed for you, if need be. Just look at Jennifer Lawrence: I believe she would walk through fire for David O. Russell if he asked her. She TRUSTS him. Hope this helps - and I know it took me a while to post these thoughts. ;) GOD BLESS and STAY FRESH!

Jefri Jefrizal

get trained actor, at least actor who understand the fundamental of screen acting, so it becomes easier to get your message across. I noticed newcomers / untrained actor is trying too hard to express emotion which in, (in the camera) the acting will look over acting / or contrive.

Dan MaxXx

Doug Nelson i recently worked on a short movie and the common problem is rushing the actors onto set, rushing scenes because production is falling behind schedule. The directors & DP’s are more worried about camera shots than the acting. Actors are not robots and rehearsals on the live set takes Time to do right.

Doug Nelson

Dan M - I couldn't agree with more. Take your time to do it right, to the best of your ability/equipment - or go home. I strive as a 'perfectionist' (but rarely make it) and when I hear folk say 'well, it's good enough' - I say no it isn't.

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