An Actor’s Director

Posted: July 15, 2015 in Acting, Blog, Film
Tags: , , , ,

“That scene actually works not because of me but in spite of me. And that really is the marker and definition of working with a truly good director.”

-Troy Baker on the opening scene from The Last of Us. 

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There is something truly great about working with a director who understands and appreciates the craft of acting. Now, really, every director should have some knowledge and respect for acting otherwise… what’s the point? Why are you wanting to direct a show or film? You’re using actors (albeit most of the time, not always) to tell your story.  You’re using actors to convey emotions and connect with the audience, you should care about how they are doing that. I’m not saying this because actors are the end all to the entertainment industry, God no. There are so many different parts in TV, film, theatre, radio, etc. that are just as important. Acting is only one part of those machines. But the director/actor relationship is, in my opinion, of the most key parts of  performance of any medium.

I’m currently working on the production side of a film and this past week I’ve had the chance to watch our director, Estlin Fiegley, work with his actors on set. Every time I see him working with his actors it brings a smile to my face and gives me goosebumps. He walks through the scenes with the actors and legitimately cares about their motivation and relationships. Countless times he’s talked about how the only thing he really cares about is getting the performance he wants on screen. And to see him working with his actors, several of them quite young, to get the performances he wants is inspiring.

I’ve been blessed in the fact that many of the directors I’ve worked with really know how to work with actors. They have worked with me, pushed me, and tested my abilities . Not every actor is that fortunate. These kinds of directors are invaluable to actors, because they’re going to be the directors that help you grow as an artist. They’re going to be the ones that, when you do something right, you’ll take that with you for all time, and when you do something wrong… well, you’ll remember that too. Not that there can’t be discovery with other types of directors as well, but the good directors will be the ones that teach you things and give you experiences that will stick with you forever.

As an actor, it’s important that from every experience, no matter if it’s good or bad, you make the most of it, You have a job to do and an obligation to the production. The phrase “make lemon aid out of lemons”  is something I’m sure many of us hear on a weekly basis (… or is that just me?) For all the wonderful director’s I’ve had I have also worked with several who seem to want nothing to do with actors, or avoid me like the plague. Even if you have a director that isn’t that great at working with actors know that it is still a learning experience for you. That is a chance for you to step up to the plate and really take charge of your performance and the role. Not that you can’t do that anyway with a facilitating director, but it is more of a challenge when you strictly have to rely on yourself. Also realize that your fellow cast members probably feel the same way you do. Work with them- you cast is your biggest asset as a performer next to your director.

Working with directors who genuinely care about what they are capturing on stage/film/etc. is a feeling that is indescribable. You know that you’re a part of something that means something to them, and that they are putting everything they have in to that project and in to you as well. You feel empowered and supported. It really is a unique type of collaboration through dialogue that can make for some of the most memorable and powerful moments ever captured or created.

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