I want to be known as the type of director actors want to work with. You know what I’m talking about. if you’ve ever watched any behind the scenes featurette. The actors almost always talk about what they loved about working with the director.
Would they have such a glowing review of my directing style? How do you know if you’re giving too much direction or too much freedom? And what makes actors love to work with certain directors over and over again?
Time to ask some actors!
Carlin Sterritt – Out of the Woods (2017) & Red Zone (2013)
I was in the casting room when we were looking for our lead actor for Out of the Woods and was asked to jump into the scene with Carlin when he auditioned for us. It was only a short time, but even from that moment I knew we’d cast him. He’s a giving actor who listens well and is not afraid to be vulnerable.
“The perfect director would be someone who I wouldn’t just want to work for, rather tell a powerful story WITH. A director who has a VISION and not just another job to do. A director who trusts me to deliver my performance in bringing the character to life, with careful instruction and critique to help steer the vision.
“I wholeheartedly understand just how big the job of director is, so I have a lot of respect for them. Even though their role is vastly different to mine, it’s a partnership, a sharpening of one another to create a masterpiece, and at the end of the day we are equally passionate in our craft and work hard with blood sweat and tears in an industry that is like no other.”
What Carlin says, especially about the actor/director relationship being a partnership and a sharpening of one another is key. If you want to be the director actors want to work with, don’t hold all the control; allow your actors to collaborate with you.
Yes, get the shot you want, but if you can tell the actor has a different approach, do another take for them. You may get into the editing room and realise the choice they made is stronger.
I also think this gives actors freedom to relax into the role. Knowing a director trusts their choices is freeing.
Tahlia’s not only a beautiful actress, but an amazing one. Her commitment to the character of Robin was really inspiring to watch on set of Out of the Woods.
Her audition for the character will stand out in my memory for a long time. Most of the actresses who auditioned for the role of Robyn gave a similar flirty performance, whereas Tahlia grounded the character, making her real.
“My ideal director is someone who firstly has faith in the casting process and believes that I am the only actor who could have played this character. When I truly believe that a director trusts me as an actor, I am empowered and not afraid to try things and fail, knowing he has my back and that we are working on the same team towards the same vision.
“I love a director with a clear, vibrant vision who also trusts in the creative process enough to allow characters to develop organically through play and improvisation. I also love a director who directs without intellectualising or psychoanalysing, allowing complexities and nuances to emerge.”
Man, it’s like a paid her for this answer. It ties in with Carlin’s quote. If you’re a director reading this, I hope the idea of trust is becoming ingrained in your mind when it comes to working with actors. Trust them to bring the character to life.
Whether it’s on set during the walk-through, or before, having a time for them to rehearse and play will not only help those complexities emerge, but it may just give you fresh ideas for the characters too.
You may remember Kyal from the last post in this style, What A Stunt Person Needs In A Director. What can I say, the guy is seriously talented and is becoming one of my favourite actors.
I loved working with Kyal on Out of the Woods. He’s such a sharp actor. His style has a precision to it which is captivating to watch and his professionalism to researching his character is evident on set. He comes prepared.
“What I look for in a director is vision and bravery. It sounds cliche, however, I believe a director has to make a film because he/she believes they have something to say and whatever styles and nuances he/she chooses should be bold and experimentational.
“There is no such thing as a perfect movie in my book, it could be any genre as long as the message is daring, conflicting and thought-provoking for the audience. I have a military background so if I believe in my director then I will follow them like they are a general.”
I absolutely love this, but what stands out to me is the benefit he has coming from a military background and how if he believes in the director he will follow them like a General. This is a great example to all of us and again it boils down to trust.
All actors want to work with great directors, I hope you’ve got an idea of how you can be one of those greats!