Directing: Remember The Actors

7997 1

If you are a DIY/no-budget filmmaker, it is likely that you will hold many positions in your production. It is often common to see that the director is also the cinematographer as well as the editor on a no-budget film. It is also common to see that in-between setting the right exposure and focus, no-budget director-cinematographers forget the most important thing on set; the actors. Here are a few tips to keep the actors happy and the set somewhat professional.

Remain sensitive to the scene
If the scene is emotional and it requires the actor to portray a lot of emotion, whether it be at one end of the emotional spectrum or the other. They may find getting into character a little hard if everyone else on set is joking around and having a laugh. To go the extra mile, you could ask the crew to remain neutral at the start of the day right up until the emotional scene is completed.

Closed set
When the scene requires an utmost sensitive portrayal, where the actor is putting years of their training and skills to the test, you might want to think about making the set a closed set. This is where you have the smallest crew possible and nobody else. It can be highly distracting for an actor if random people are walking around in the background while they are trying to break down into tears. Remember the leaked audio tape of Christian Bale after he was distracted by the DP? It was not the correct way to behave, and Christian Bale has since apologized, but background movement can be off-putting for an actor. A closed set is also often used for nude scenes.

Feature films often shoot out of sequence, for logistical, budget and many more reasons. A feature production may shoot a scene that takes place half-way through the movie, then later in the day at the same location shoot the final scene for the entire film, even though the production is nowhere near complete.

If this is one of your first short films, it’s more than likely that the actor might be quite inexperienced as well. So take into consideration the sequence you will be filming in; an actor without a lot of experience may find it a little daunting jumping from one emotion to another and not naturally progressing with it as if they were reading the script.

You’re the director; you wrote the script, and you’re probably going to spend hours upon hours at your computer editing. You know the script inside and out and how the characters should live and breathe. However, respect the actor’s opinions on the characters that they are playing. It’s likely they could add a whole new dynamic to the character.  After all, the actor’s job is to get into the mindset of the character – they are going to have some decent ideas that are worth listening too.


Think of the dynamic between you and your parents; They created you and without them, you would not exist. However, could you say that your parents know every detail about you?

About The Author

Lewis McGregor is an aspiring filmmaker, photographer and online content creator from Wales.