Directors - What's your preferred way to work with actors?

Chris W

As You Wish
Staff member
Let's get another good discussion going... for those of you who have directed shorts or features... how do you like to work with actors? What are you favorite techniques? What are some mistakes that you've made that you don't want to make again?

Tagging the current directing applicants here.... @Srishti @MildTabasco @Roebot @ForeignFilmmaker @kreativesoul @Brooklyn @Gloria- @duque91 @Yaxing Lin @mverolu @brittallo @Diana Dai @Catherine Lao @Miao @Deb F @VmattS @JMcCormack @JDog @Dean @Ernst @LukeLeCount @wukongx24 @Apeach @Isabehl @Arthur Frayn @Maki Morita @JoannaFern @skimoak @zokage_ @WriterK90 @Buusey @EmmaSwan

Deb F

I have worked with children, which really slowed the shooting. I had 10 extras who were kids and I have spent half of the time keeping them in order. They even got into a fight at last.🤔 I had to delete several shots to wrap up on time, really hurt my work.


New Member
This is something I'm really new at but have loved my experiences working with actors so far. I have acted in most of my shorts & that has really helped me understand how to talk to the actors about what I'd like to see them do.

I like to talk about the character, their feelings, what's going on inside of their head & let the actor take it from there. Film is so collaborative that I want their version of things to make it into my film. It's their film too.
Love this thread! Working with actors is so much fun, I could talk about this all day!

I usually sit down with the actors first. I talk to them about their acting style /training and let them tell me how they prefer to be directed. I like having a sense of what type of feedback and adjustments work for each actor.

Then I'm all about rehearsal! I love rehearsal, not because I want the actors to run the scenes to death, but because I find that putting it on it's feet gives us all a good jumping off point for discussions about the scene, the characters and the story.

In my experience, rehearsal has been a great way to figure out which directing styles work best for each actors. I get to practice and experiment with different communication styles and see what gets the best work out of each actor. Also I find that the conversations we have in rehearsal really ground the actors in their roles.

By the time we're on set, they know their characters really well and I know how to work with them best. On day one they usually need some support and relaxing, but after that I usually give them room to try thing if they are inspired. If it's not working I just remind them of what we fine tuned in rehearsal.

The one rule I have about really hard or emotional scenes is that I won't ask the actor to give a 100% performance more than once. So I really plan those shots and make sure I know what coverage I want for that moment. When it comes to shooting that moment, I go up to them and just let them know 'this is the take'. I'll let them start from any point in the scene they want, so they can get the build up they feel they need, and almost every time it's MIND BLOWING!

Like I said I could talk about this all day, but I'm going to stop here cause this is getting a bit long! Thanks for the tag @Chris W

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