Advice for Directing Actors

Summary: Want to know how to be an “actor’s” director? Here are some tips.

Actors are a curious group of coworkers because they have to do a lot of unorthodox duties as part of their jobs. Training exercises, vocal and physical stretches and being in the moment are all par for their course. As a director, and in order to be effective, you need to know how to rein those people in and use their talents to your advantage.

Be Specific

If you watch directors as the movies portray them, they say things like “no, get angry! Get real angry!” That’s textbook for now not to direct. Angry is an emotion, you become angry for a reason. It’s better to use the context of the scene to better inform the actor. Actors have to know the script as part of their job, but you can help remind them of the key moments you want to accentuate.

Listen

Ideally, scenes play out and everything is great the first take. As the director, your goal is to watch and most importantly listen to what’s happening on set. The right take isn’t just about a good shot, you need to listen to the emotion and feel on set. Ask actors to run something back if it doesn’t feel right, or even if you want a different perspective.

Don’t Yell

A screaming director eventually becomes an authority figure stripped of authority. Put another way, if you have to yell more than once a day, then you have failed to capture the attention you require. In fact, try to contain your frustrations so that if you do need to yell then it will command better attention.


 

Bio: Charles Matthau is the director/producer and owner of the Charles Matthau Company, a television and film production company. Charles Matthau is best known for developing and directing “The Grass Harp.”