Top 10 Tips for Directing Actors

indie filmmaking Blog Podcast explores the best ways for you to produce direct and get your film seen by the biggest possible audience

Gaining the best performance from your actors is essential and so important for your film. Here are my Top 10 Tips for working with your actors in your film.

1. Cast really well. Make sure you get the very best actors you can at your level.

2. Rehearse really well with your actors, scene by scene
Allow two sessions Half day each or one full day for your 10-page script.

3. Use rehearsal to get the script dialogue better. Via Improvisations, dialogue and performance can dramatically improve.

3. On Set, Watch your actor’s performance like a hawk on Video Village. Look for anything you would like to change in terms of their performance, take by take.

4 Talking at a conversational volume level for Actors is so important.  There is nothing worst than actors.  
There will be beats where actors need to be louder in a scene. Examples an Argument fight, or a speech to an audience. Work out your scene beats and go for Talk at a conversational volume. (microphones are great these days)

6 Watch for Overacting. It is a killer on screen.

7. Watch for the Blinkers in your close ups.
Blinking actors in a Close up always lose screen power and many inexperienced actors do it. Close Ups will elaborate on this. It is well worth watching for and making sure your actors do not do this.  

8 Keep your directions simple when directing actors -Short sentences with one to simple directions are far more effective than essay directing with multiple conflicting directions.  

9 Keep away from Results Orientated Directions.
Use verbs when directing. Avoid telling actors to be “Angrier”
If you want an actor to be angrier ask the 
actor “to intimidate or to scold”
Asking your actor to be angrier is a state and does not work as well as well as a verb “to intimidate”

In the latter, the actor is doing rather than impersonating. That is much

10 When editing your film, watch your rushes in detail.  
Watch all your footage and mark the actor’s best moments for each actor, on each take. Taking time to do this will improve actor performance dramatically in your completed film as you will choose the actors best moments.

The reality is that a director shoots 20 – 30 times as much footage as ends up in the film. This is called shooting ratio.
Therefore, it is imperative to watch your footage in detail. Find the very best performances in your footage, just like if you were fossicking for gold.

A Director only becomes great at directing actors via experience. Being on set, working with your actors will always help you become better at directing actors.

In Film it is very different to directing actors in theatre. One is only concerned about a scene and essentially what is happening from Action to Cut during the take.   A director gets to do Take two and more takes till he or she gets what they want.

Please take note of these ten tips and add them to your Tool Box. Your job as a director is to make good or great actors exceptional.

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Colm O'Murchu - Host

Colm O’Murchu is a passionate Indie Filmmaker and owner of the production company, International Film Base. He has directed and produced three successfully released feature films worldwide and one documentary.  

His most recent film Tabernacle 101 has been released in 2019 in the US and will be released in Australia in late 2020 premiering at the Sci Fi Film Festival. He is currently in development on his next feature film Absolute Freedom, an action adventure film set in the outback.

He has spoken at Indie Film Seminars all over the world and created online and offline film courses 

 He lives in the Blue Mountains NSW Australia and loves the outdoors and the mountains.

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