Top 10 Tips for Directing Actors

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Many new Directors have no experience with working with actors.  Directing Actors in Film is a subtle art.  You will get the hang of it, once you start to make your own films and practice. In the meantime, please have a look at the following tips.

Screen Acting is totally different to Theatrical Acting, due to the nature of how films are shot and the technology involved. Camera and sound equipment means that screen acting requires a very specific approach. 

1.  Cast really really well.  Make sure you get the very best actors for your Film that you can at this point in time.  Organise a great casting. We teach this process on our film courses

2.  Rehearse in detail with your actors. 
Allow two sessions. Schedule one full day for your 10 page script. ( 10 minute short film).   Use rehearsal to get the script dialogue better and hone the style of performances.  You and your actors should collaborate and agree on the performance in this rehearsal period. 

3.  On Set, Watch your actors performance like a hawk.
Directors watch everything at Video Village. See picture.  Look for anything you would like to change in terms of the performance and direct succinctly and to the point. 

 4 Get your actors to tone it down. Talking Quietly Thinking loudly is so important in screen.  Total opposite to theatre. Many actors who are new to the process will not know this. There will be beats where actors need to be loud in a scene. Examples an Argument fight, 

5  Actor Continuity:
The other big challenge with new actors is that they do not understand that continuity of performance is very important. If they pick up a pen with the left hand in the wide shot, they must do the same in the Close up.  When actors do bad continuity, it really effects the editing process negatively. Good screen acting has continuity. 

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 power. Michael Caine wrote about this in his brilliant book “Screen Acting” . Great actors portray their screen performance via their eyes. It is no accident that the big stars always control their blinking and do not do it. Watch next time you see a great screen actor. Actors in Close Ups. Do Not Blink

8 Keep it simple – Short sentences are so much better than essay directing. Essay Directing is when a director goes on a waffle for five minutes about various points confusing the actor and losing their respect 

9 Ask your actor to give it their all emotionally  in the Close ups. This is because Close ups dominate the cut. 

10 When editing, watch all your actors footage and mark their best moments on each take. Taking time to do this will improve actor performance dramatically.

In Film a two minute scene may have 45  minutes or more of footage. Pick the very best for your cut.  This takes patience and a persistence to watch all your footage. You will need to be alert to find the gold and the very best from your actors. 

Directing a film is the process of telling a great story. Improve and get the best from the very best actors you can find and you will improve your film dramatically. 

You can learn all about this process on a  really good film course

About the Author:  Colm O’Murchu is a successful Indie Filmmaker and Director of three successfully released feature films and one documentary. He has run Australian Film Base since 1997 and helped filmmakers produce hundreds of short films made on his filmmaking courses. He has spoken at Indie Film Seminars all over the world.  His most recent film Tabernacle 101 has been released worldwide in 2019 and will be released in Australia in late 2020. He is currently in development on his next feature film Absolute Freedom   His Films Here 

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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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