MOONDANCE INSIDER TIPS FOR DIRECTING ACTORS IN FILM!
~~ Je suis Charlie! Nous sommes Charlie! ~~
“The greater the obstacle, the more glory we have in overcoming it.” ~ Molière
MOONDANCE DISCOUNTED ENTRY FEE EXTENDED!
Due to popular request, we have extended the early-bird entry fee through January 2015! All categories of submissions have a discounted $50 entry fee.
MOONDANCE 2015 CALL-FOR-ENTRIES!
Withoutabox for Moondance International Film Festival is now fully active for this season’s call for entries: www.withoutabox.com/login/1240
September 18, 19, 20, 2015
Boulder, Colorado USA
The Moondance International Film Festival is much more than an annual film festival! It is a unique community, a supportive, productive, and creative year-round collaboration between independent filmmakers and movie audiences, between writers, composers and the world of filmed entertainment.
MOONDANCERS WRITE US:
“I wanted to thank you once more for the wonderful experience of working at Moondance International Film Festival (2014). It was such a pleasure getting to meet…the many esteemed guests and filmmakers, as well as the hardworking and all-around brilliant volunteers. ~ Arden Tuner, official festival event co-photographer. Visit Arden’s Moondance Portfolio link here.
“My 2014 stageplay award for “Botticelli’s Angels” has pride of place on our mantle-piece, and the play has just been short-listed for the BBC Writers Room Development Scheme here in the UK, so keep your fingers crossed that it opens some doors for me there! ~ Gemma Mills McGrath
“Winning the 2014 Spirit of Moondance award was the highlight of my year, and I hope and pray that 2015 continues my lucky streak! I had a great time (including a lovely birthday lunch with Linda Seger) and was so happy and grateful to be recognized for my female-centered, multicultural dance drama, FIREBIRD!” ~ Kathryn Machi
DIRECTING ACTORS IN FILM
“Lights, camera, and…action!”
When judges preview films for film festival competitions, or when distributors look at films they may decide to screen in theaters, or during Academy Award nomination season, or when a talent agent may decide to take you on as a client, or when a production company or film studio is watching your demo reel or trailer, and considering you to direct a film, the actors’ performances are one of the most important elements they look for in the film. You may have a unique story, the best cinematographer, incredible editing, memorable film score, interesting locations, fabulous action scenes, great dialog, and impressive production values, but…if any of the actors, not just the lead actors, fluff a scene, or are wooden, over-act, are amateurish, or are simply unremarkable in their roles, you’ve just lost all credibility as a film director, and you may not ever get a second chance.
- Directing a feature or short film, commercial, animation, trailer, music video, or television pilot requires an extraordinary output of time, energy, patience, and talent. You owe it to yourself, and to the success of the film project, to get the richest, most realistic, relatable performances possible. Directing actors is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, aspects in the array of creative tasks that await any film director.
- You’ll need to know how to constructively and efficiently collaborate with actors to create truthful and compelling, natural performances. Unlike the creative process of writing a script or generating shot-lists and storyboards, actors are mutable, unpredictable, and you can’t completely plan their performances in a film, but you can direct them toward the performance you envision for the role.
- Most film directors (even seasoned veterans) just don’t seem to know how to talk to actors – they often don’t speak a language that is useful to them. You need to learn a new language, which enables you, as the director, to give the actor a clear point of departure for a performance, and which allows you to quickly communicate adjustments, as that performance evolves, yet also allows the actor his or her interpretation of the character and scene, but based on what you and the script require.
- This is a directorial process that begins by articulating a “through-line” – a concise statement that captures a director’s interpretation of the script, into language that will help the actors build their performances, and establish a productive working relationship between actor and director. You want the actors to “quit acting” and just BE the characters, tapping in to emotions which the actor has experienced in her/his own life and applying it to the scene. No hitting their marks and just reading their lines!
- Directing actors for film is much different from directing actors for the stage. Because a stage has 3 walls, and the audience sits at the fourth “wall”, seeing and hearing everything on the stage, and everything the actors do or say, as it occurs, there can be no multiple takes, no do-overs Larger gestures and more visible facial expressions, as well as throwing one’s voice to the back of the balcony, are needed in theater, but not in film. Subtlety is best. Watch how great actors project, with subtle gestures, minimal facial expressions, breathing techniques, and quiet body language: Anthony Hopkins, Meryl Streep, Steve McQueen, James Dean, Donald Pleasence, Rod Steiger, Judi Dench & Maggie Smith.
- One might consider the talented actor as a visual story-teller, a creator of visions who can transport movie audiences out of their habitual ways of being, create an atmosphere of “suspension of disbelief,” and who leads them on a journey of self-discovery and possibly new perceptions. Personal magnetism and charisma, intense body awareness, voice control, and great sensitivity are among the special abilities that contribute to the actor’s mystique, and a film director can encourage and inspire the actor to bring this out in performance.
- But with film, many takes of the same scene can be shot until the director is happy with that scene. An actor must be capable of accommodating this arduous and frustrating process, and to be able to make adjustments in his or her characterizations, over and over, without complaint.
- The camera can move to different viewpoints, can do a two-shot, a close-up, or a crowd scene, or action outdoors, and even use a parkour technique, by following the actor(s) for several minutes moving through a location sequence. With a roughly a 22’ tall X 52’ wide movie screen, actors can use much more subtle facial expressions, especially in close-ups, simpler body movements and gestures, and with lower, more modulated voices. A twitch of an eyebrow, or a tiny smirk can easily be seen by the audience, unlike on stage. A good film actor will be aware of this.
- As a director, if you’re auditioning actors, working with non-professional actors, or interviewing subjects for a documentary, you may need to remind them to pay extra attention to their total body language in a scene, tone of voice, and facial expressions, to get a realistic characterization from them. In narrative and documentary filmmaking, actors & interview subjects generally need to move a bit more slowly than normal (but not too slowly) through a scene, in order for the camera to focus and catch the image, and not cause the audiences to feel they are being forced to visually follow the scene too quickly.
- Acting is reacting. Reacting with what is already known, and can be, should be, brought into the role’s characterization from the actor’s and director’s own life experiences and personal observations, as well as by what the particular role requires, of course.
- As a director, you should know all there is to know about filmmaking: cinematography, editing, production, lighting, sound, screenwriting, and etc., and that, of course, includes acting. Perhaps you can audition for a film, TV show or stageplay, and if you get the part, even as a non-speaking extra, you’ll gain valuable inside, working experience on the set or on location. You need to study the art and craft of acting, stage, television and film acting, especially improv, and consider learning to be an actor, yourself, in order to understand actors and to communicate with them, and most effectively bring out the best performances from your actors.
- Changing Direction: A Practical Approach to Directing Actors in Film and Theatre: Foreword by Ang Lee, by Lenore DeKoven
- Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film & Television by Judith Weston
- The Film Director’s Intuition: Script Analysis and Rehearsal Techniques, by Judith Weston
The documentary short Food for Thought, Food for Life, directed by Susan Rockefeller, wants to start a revolution in the food system. This film is an informative call to action that aims to think differently about what we eat to positively impact our environment, our health, and our communities. Food for Thought, Food for Life is a 20-minute documentary short about issues related to food and farming. It is meant to be a “conversation starter” by delivering the facts but also providing visuals & solutions and “things you can do” to help start the revolution right now! Go here to see the inspiring trailer: http://www.foodforthoughtfoodforlife.com
ON WRITING FICTION:
“Writers’ minds are a jumbled, chaotic attic cluttered with plot notions, useful characters, settings for events, bits and pieces of information, overheard remarks, tragedies, and etc. I liken the writer to the bag lady pushing her stolen shopping cart through life, collecting throw-away stuff, which, who knows, might be useful some day. It’s an apt analogy, and I can’t imagine a better profession for such scavenging than (being a writer).”~ Tony Hillerman
“Do not make stingy sandwiches; pile high the cold cuts; the customer (reader) should see salami coming through the rye!” ~ Alan Sherman
MOONDANCE FUN QUIZ:
- Name 15 movies that start with the letter A!
- Name 15 Hollywood movie studios!
SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
“The most precious thing that anyone can have is the goodwill of others.” ~ Anne Parish
“Follow your bliss, and the universe will open doors where there once were only walls.” ~ Joseph Campbell
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
“With every experience and decision, you alone are painting your own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
“One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.” ~ Jack Penn
Right whales are some of the most awe-inspiring creatures on the planet. Yet today, there are only 450 left in the wild! These majestic whales, as well as other kinds of whales, dolphins, porpoises, sea turtles, seals, and many, many other sea creatures, could soon be gone forever – driven to extinction by offshore oil and gas exploration companies using seismic air-guns to blast explosive bursts of sound – every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for weeks and months at a time, to map the ocean floor for new sites to drill for oil and gas. These guns produce the loudest man-made noises ever experienced in the oceans, radiating many miles through the water, and can cause permanent hearing loss in marine animals, a life or death matter. Please donate generously to your favorite organization trying to save whales, dolphins and other marine life, and contact your congressional representative or senator, to urge him or her to support efforts to stop this unethical destruction of wildlife in the sea:
There have been five mass extinction events in our planet’s history. The last one was a caused by a massive asteroid and wiped out dinosaurs. We are causing the sixth one, right now, and species are winking out from the savannahs of Africa to the forests of Asia and multiple other places across the globe. Losing just one elephant matriarch, a single tiger, or a solitary gorilla to poaching is a gut-wrenching loss of a beautiful, intelligent animal. But the possibility of losing them all – forever – is a fate too terrible to consider.
Stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand. A report released earlier this year confirmed that poachers slaughtered 100,000 elephants in Africa in just three years. 100,000 elephants: their majestic bodies and intelligent eyes reduced to lifeless heaps of bones. Entire herds destroyed. Mothers, young, all killed in cold blood for their tusks to sell to the illegal ivory trade. Baby elephants orphaned. More elephants are now being killed in Africa than are being born. This is what the path to extinction looks like.
Unless we act quickly, that could well happen – more in a long line of extinctions for which we’re responsible. It’s up to us, Those of who believe these magnificent creatures deserve a place in this world. A world where they can roam, raise their young, and enjoy a life free of poaching, guns, poison, habitat destruction, and cruel traps. We are in a race against time! Thank you for helping us defend those that cannot defend themselves.
- Movies that start with the letter A: A Beautiful mind, A Bug’s Life, League of One’s Own, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Ace Ventura, African Queen, Airforce One, Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, Alien, Amadeus, American Beauty, Amityville Horror, Argo, Avatar
- Hollywood movie studios: 20th Century Fox, Castle Rock Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, Dreamworks SKG, Focus Features, MGM, New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios, Sony, TriStar Pictures, United Artists, Universal Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures
QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?
No trees or natural habitats were harmed in the creation of this news-blog!