Q for Directors: Acting Classes? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Techniques for Independent Production

Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old March 8th, 2007, 01:39 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Posts: 425
Q for Directors: Acting Classes?

Not sure if this is the right forum, or if we have the correct forum for this question....

I'm contemplating taking an acting class, although I'm a director, not an actor.

Usually I have a whole process I go through with my actors, describing the character, the character's background, the motivation, etc, and I schedule a lot of rehearsal time. I always strive to give the actors feedback they will find constructive and meaningful.

I find that when I work with actors who are either experienced, or just have an intuitive understanding of creating a character, this is fine. But I keep thinking if I had a greater feeling for the actor's perspective, I'd be more helpful to them in creating their performance. I've read some books on acting, and on how to direct actors, but I'm thinking that personally going through that training would help.

I imagine taking an acting class will only help and there's no downside. I'm wondering if any of the directors on the board have ever tried, and found it helpful? or not so much?
Dennis Stevens is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 8th, 2007, 02:37 PM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: San Mateo, CA
Posts: 3,840
LIke any class you care to take, a lot depends on the quality of the instruction.

There are many different 'schools' of acting, with different approaches to finding the character. This is why different actors will come to you with different needs.

As a director, your job is to communicate CLEARLY with the actor, what your needs are for their performance. This is not the same as giving them a line reading... "Say it like this." A line reading should be reserved for non-actors and sometimes children.

A good class in acting, will help you to understand THAT TEACHER/SCHOOL's approach to TEACHING ACTING.

Please note. Acting for stage is different than acting for the camera. A class specifically for acting for film will suit your needs better than acting for the stage, though acting for the stage will give you an insight into how the craft is approached.

Under the 'can't hurt, might help' mantra... I'm not completely sure that's true. The notion that 'a little knowledge' is a dangerous thing also comes to mind. Frankly, I think you might be better served taking a class on DIRECTING than taking a class on acting, if you had to only take one class.


Yes, I've been an actor AND a director... (and stunt co-ordinator, screenwriter and caterer, and...)
Richard Alvarez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 8th, 2007, 02:51 PM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: London, England
Posts: 969
You should go for it, as long as you don't mind standing around pretending to be a tree or internalizing the feelings of a spring lamb on a sunny day. I've always treated them like props with attitude, seems to work okay.

Liam.
__________________
Writer-Director-DOP
www.liamhall.net
Liam Hall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 8th, 2007, 02:52 PM   #4
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Posts: 425
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Alvarez View Post
Under the 'can't hurt, might help' mantra... I'm not completely sure that's true. The notion that 'a little knowledge' is a dangerous thing also comes to mind.
Not sure what you mean. Are you suggesting that I might get sort of 'locked in' to one approach to acting, instead of letting each actor find their own way?
Dennis Stevens is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 9th, 2007, 10:01 AM   #5
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,063
It would almost certainly help, esp if you try to audition for a part in a play/film and get it. I did tons of acting before I became a director, and as such am generally considered to be an "actors" director.

Like it or not, actors are often the most important part of a production - particualrly a low budget production - and learning the tricks of their trade can be a gig help.

Really learning what method is could be a big help for instance, as many actors use this technique. Learning what's good and what's bad about improving from the actors POV would be useful (also learning that some actors are good at and some are bad - and realizing why).

They're the face of the film, they are the ones who must emote on cue - sometimes very difficult, particularly for theatre actors....

I'd say, absolutely do it.

john
evilgeniusentertainment.com
John Vincent is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 9th, 2007, 12:23 PM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,513
One problem I've seen is when you point the camera at the top actor and work their part, only to ignore the amateur in the background. When you go to edit the work, you find the other actors behaving like audience members, watching the main actor perform.

Pay attention to *all* the actors in the frame.
__________________
Jon Fairhurst
Jon Fairhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 9th, 2007, 03:23 PM   #7
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,063
Of course that'd be perfect. But most directors, even directors of big budget films find this difficult, particularly w/ extras.

That's why having a good, tested film actor is so valuable - they'll know their lines, be able to do them over and over again w/little instruction, and will be able to deal with the fact that sometimes the director must pat more attention
to an exploding car that won't explode. There's a reason why people are willing to pay SAG rates - you get pros.

But for smaller productions, I think it's a good experience.

john
evilgeniusentertainment.com
John Vincent is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 9th, 2007, 03:29 PM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: San Mateo, CA
Posts: 3,840
Regarding my "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" comment. Yeah, going to one acting class, might create a false sense of mastery of the 'craft of acting'. Hard to say without knowing anything about the class or instructor, or YOU. (Yes, yes this is true of taking one of ANY kind of class.)

It would probably be a net plus to take it, but again, you'd probably be better served in taking a director's class. The skill you need to master is how to communicate your vision to the actors, and inspire them to greater heights, all while wondering when the next union break is due and where to park the caterers truck.
Richard Alvarez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 12th, 2007, 09:33 AM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Posts: 425
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Alvarez View Post
Regarding my "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" comment. Yeah, going to one acting class, might create a false sense of mastery of the 'craft of acting'. Hard to say without knowing anything about the class or instructor, or YOU. (Yes, yes this is true of taking one of ANY kind of class.)
Oh, I'd never think one class constitutes mastery. My concern is that for it to really do any good, I'd have to take many classes, get cast in some plays or films, etc, before it would be enough experience to really help. So, it might be a lot of time and money, without that much return.

I couple that with your other point, that acting and directing are different skill sets, and if you wanna be a director, develop your directing muscles.
Dennis Stevens is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 17th, 2007, 08:25 AM   #10
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: San Mateo, CA
Posts: 59
I found an acting class useful...

Dennis,
...in that it gave me an idea of how exposed an actor can feel. I also went to an open audition, and really tried for a part. Both were useful for me and helped me be more considerate. The one I took was clearly targeted at stage acting and was at a university.
Regards, Alan
Alan Dunkel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 17th, 2007, 09:14 PM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Posts: 425
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Dunkel View Post
Dennis,
...in that it gave me an idea of how exposed an actor can feel. I also went to an open audition, and really tried for a part.
I went to an audition last year to be in an infomercial. It was some food product, and I would have been in the audience watching the product being demonstrated. Basically, I needed to fake enthusiasm.

The director said 'You've been given the best pizza you've ever had. Show me how much you like it.' I gave it my best, and the guy 'Try again, but smile more'. So I did that, and the director got a distasteful look on his face, and said thanks, now get out.

The product was something called 'Chiba', or something like that, I forget. I went with a friend, and we dared each other to yell 'CHIBA IS MADE OF PEOPLE!' during the audition, but we chickened out.
Dennis Stevens is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 17th, 2007, 11:48 PM   #12
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Toronto Ontario Canada!
Posts: 353
I say do it, I'm a wanna be director myself and am almost finihsed an acting certificate.

In film school I was amazed that alot of starving artist actors who wanted to get behind hte camera to create projects for themselves were so good with actors, made perfect sense tho.

I believe acting school definately will broaden the way you look & understand the characters in your film, and hence furhter motivate your directing decisions.
__________________
dreaming hobbyist + storyteller
www.michaelywong.com
Michael Y Wong is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 18th, 2007, 08:38 AM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Springfield, MO, USA
Posts: 389
I took acting for directors from Judith Weston... a pretty big acting coach in LA... I think that she has a book out on the subject.
Gary McClurg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 18th, 2007, 04:46 PM   #14
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Belfast, UK
Posts: 4,121
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary McClurg View Post
I took acting for directors from Judith Weston... a pretty big acting coach in LA... I think that she has a book out on the subject.
I did the acting techniques module of a drama course - even passed the exam at the end of it. Well worthwhile doing, it was more about the process of finding a character etc rather than stage or screen acting techniques.

It came in handy when I had to do some steadicam POV shots on a feature film last year.

If you want to direct you really need to know this stuff and to be able to communicate your vision to actors. If you're not doing any acting courses read the books, Kubrick read Stanislavski. If you can't get performances from your actors there's no point in trying to be a director, at least making dramas.
Brian Drysdale is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 18th, 2007, 05:10 PM   #15
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: San Mateo, CA
Posts: 3,840
I think some sort of "Acting FOR Directors" would be the ideal compromise. A class that explains the different schools, the various approaches and how a Director communicates to the actor. A class that lets the director understand the vulnerability of an actor, and 'the process'. Yeah something specifically FOR Directors would be most helpful.

IF you can find that.
Richard Alvarez is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Techniques for Independent Production

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:00 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network