One of my favorite courses for today is “Working with actors”. We learned a lot on these sessions. I am not a really talkative person and I prefer to listen, either than to talk. Also I am really shy with a new people and do not really like to talk to them in the beginning of our friendship. That is why it was difficult for me in the beginning to contact with actors, but with time a got used to it, and now I know how to do it easily. The first thing that you need to understand when working with any actor is to be respectful to them.
You should always introduce yourself to them, ask them questions like “How are you? , “How was the road? ”, “Do you want something to eat or drink? ”. Phrases like that help both you as a director and the actor to relax and find the way to speak with each other and just to relax. Next important thing is the script, you should explain what you are aiming for to your actors, so no one is going to be misunderstood. The thing that helps a lot for these situations is to tell the actor his or her hero’s backstory, this will help them to understand their character better and act more realistic and just better, than if you have not told them anything about their personality in the film.
It just makes yours lives easier: you as a director get quicker what you want to see from the actor and the performer understands faster what he or she needs to show and to act like. After the first time when the artist finished his acting you should say some recommendations if you did not like something in his or her performance. It is mostly likely to happen, that you will not be satisfied with the act after the first time it would be performed, so you need to know how to say gently without offending the performer what would you like to change in his or her style of acting.
I usually start with saying that “This was great, but I would like you to …” and than I say what I would like to change in the performer, for example, to be more sad or to be more happy. Additionally to help the actor you can use such phrases like “as if” or “imagine that you” or “be like the guy in that film”- these expressions help the artist to imagine in his or her head the situation or to remember the scene in some film that you have both seen and know the character that you want your actor to be like. You should be clear and straightforward about the advises you give to your performer, so he or she will not get confused.
All in all you should be always respectful to your actors and try to help them as much as possible to get what you need from them. During this course we studied a lot and now we can use this knowledge in practice. I know now the difference between the stage and the screen performance. I mean that when performers are on stage, they use all the space that they are given, but when they are acting in front of camera, they do have the lines, that they should not cross, because if they do that, they will leave the frame and be out of shot. So you should always show the actors where their borderline is.
Also we were finding out how to explore an actor’s potential with help of watching how they perform on set and how they follow your instructions. We were also told about the sources and the ways to find and to addition the artists. There are special sources in the Internet and a book, which includes all of the actors that you can select for your movie. Also this book can be find online, and it will be more accurate, because it gets updated more often that an actual printed book. On our assessment, when we have made our scripts and then acted as a directors of these films, I was a lot more confident, than at the begging of the course.
First step was to write a script for each member of the group, the script was supposed to be the same for everyone in your group, but afterwards you were supposed to add a bit more details, so your story would be different from the story of your mate in the group, even though the text for your characters stays the same. With a help of this task I understood that actors play a giant roles in film, that a good artist can make even a bad script look great on screen or vice versa he or she can ruin an amassing script, because of their acting skills.
Therefore now I can see how to find and how to make a kind of interview for the person I am willing to see in my film. So we wrote a script, and developed it for each of us. I have made mine with help of my own experience in life, so it was quite easy for my to understand what I wanted to see from actors on the shooting day. I wrote a script about a couple that broke up few years ago and that accidentally met on a plane and plus the other thing about this broken couple is that the guy is really afraid of the flights.
By this I have combined two situations of my life, how I met my ex-girlfriend and the fact that I am really worried about flying. During all of our sessions we have met a lot of actors and at the end we had an option to select two of them, which we liked more, than the others, so for the shoot we were satisfied and even happy that we had those actors that we wanted. I was the first one to be a director on the day of assessment, unfortunately that did not add more confidence to me, but I have done my best.
I met the actors, asked them few questions about how they are feeling and how is their morning going on and then I started to explain the script. I asked them quickly to read the script loud. And then I told the backstory of each character to them. With a help of few going through scenes, we got what I wanted. Next step was to film this action from different angles. Thanks to my DOP we have done it pretty quickly and the only complicated thing was to make the borderlines, but as soon as we made them, everyone was clear of what to do, how to do and where not to go out of shot.
So I was happy with the way how the assessment went and also I understood deeper the whole process starting from saying to an actor “Hi” and up to the final phrase “Thanks a lot, bye”. I know that I need to go deeper into details of the backstory and know what I want to see from the artists more clear. To conclude I would like to say, that I am very pleased and satisfied with this module. All knowledge that I learned would be very useful in my career and definitely it is going to be developed in future. Working with actors is very important in the filmmaking industry especially if you want to become a director.
I am also happy that I can see the progress myself, because now it is easier to me to contact with people and speak to them without being shy. By the way it was a really nice course also because of the teacher, who was teaching us through the whole course, and she helped me a lot in a way of getting in touch with people, as I am not a native speaker sometimes it was hard for me to explain the actors what I wanted from them, but this is not a problem any more. Hope to have more such a useful and interesting modules in future. If I would have option to retake these sessions, I would do that without hesitating.