5 Tips For Directing Actors and Other On-Camera Talent


Between the comfortable chairs and the Oscars acceptance speeches, directing looks like the best gig round. But in actuality, directing actors for movie and video is difficult work. Working with actors takes self-discipline, sturdy management, flexibility, and a constructive perspective.

Our video specialists Blake Smith and Mathew King have years of expertise directing on-screen expertise right here at Vidyard, and though they nonetheless have heaps to be taught, they’ve provided up some in-depth recommendation on the Video Island Podcast.

Learn from the video specialists—subscribe to the Video Island Podcast!

If you’re about to make your directorial debut, learn on for 5 helpful suggestions for guiding actors, and non-actors too!

1. Be Prepared

Just like Scouts or Girl Guides, “be prepared” is the primary rule to planning a video shoot. Besides ensuring you’ve coated all of the pre-production fundamentals, it’s vital that your materials.

As the director, individuals will look to you for authority and management, so very first thing’s first, analysis your subject effectively upfront. Talk to specialists, atone for the most recent information, and know your materials.

By the time your expertise arrives on set, you’ll be outfitted to reply all their questions, present context, and be higher knowledgeable to transform the fabric on the fly. If you’re working with an interview format, you could have to rephrase questions or elaborate on the data you’re attempting to extract. It’s going to be rather a lot simpler to try this if you happen to really know what you’re speaking about.

The similar rule applies when getting ready your bodily area:

  • Set up all of the gear along with your crew earlier than actors even step foot on set in order that they aren’t distracted by the technical points of the setting
  • Use stand-ins throughout lighting arrange so your actors aren’t already scorching and drained earlier than they begin
  • Have water and snacks out there in order that nobody has to interrupt the workflow by leaving the area

2. Plan Ahead

Whether you’re directing a scripted manufacturing or a loosely organized interview, having a plan for the shoot will lower down on wasted time. Prepare a script or record of questions and let it information the method.

If you’re working with a script, actors might want to see it effectively upfront. Make positive to ship it far sufficient forward to go away a lot of time for questions earlier than the shoot day. Better but, plan to carry a desk learn—the place actors learn by the script with the direct and different artistic leads—a minimum of at some point earlier than the shoot. It’s a good way to rehearse and get all of the questions out of the way in which earlier than the cameras begin rolling.

In the case of an interview format, there may be some debate (even amongst our video specialists!) about whether or not or to not share interview questions along with your topic forward of time.

On the one hand, you give the interviewee a chance to arrange and really feel snug with the fabric. This is very useful when directing non-actors or individuals unused to being on digital camera (like your coworkers).

On the opposite hand, an excessive amount of time to arrange may end up in a scripted or robotic supply on digital camera. In an interview format, there’s nothing worse or extra inauthentic than a scripted response. Mathew King, Video Production Manager at Vidyard, advises his interviewees to not put together totally scripted solutions as a result of “more often than not, people can tell that you’re looking off to the side of the camera and it looks really amateur”—so don’t even consider using cue playing cards!

The comfortable answer to this debate is to present your topic an outline of the questions you’ll be asking, however pass over the small print. If you suppose you’ll need your topic to offer particular stats, then completely ask for these forward of time. Otherwise, follow a topical overview. Your topic is being interviewed for a cause. They’re the skilled. The extra you persuade them of that, the extra snug they’ll be on digital camera.

Having the interview questions or script to information your shoot will enable you plan your time, and lead with confidence.

three. Establish a Protocol with Your Crew

There are few issues worse for an actor than receiving conflicting info. Direction ought to come from you and nobody else.

To keep away from any confusion on the day, you should definitely speak to your crew forward of time to determine a protocol for giving suggestions. For instance, in case your actor is on a roll, giving a implausible description of what their firm does, it will be a disgrace in case your digital camera operator interrupted to inform them to cease wanting immediately on the digital camera. You may have used the audio recording and put it over some B-roll later! Also, now the actor might be going to be far more involved about the place they’re wanting than what they’re speaking about.

As the director, you’re the filter between the efficiency and the technical, and to try this Mat says, “You have to be able to multitask and edit in your head.”

In order to get one of the best efficiency, an actor ought to see and hear as little as doable concerning the technical points of the shoot. Any conversations you might have along with your crew about lighting, taking pictures order, arrange modifications, and so on. ought to by no means distract the actor from their efficiency.

four. Be Flexible!

Nothing goes in keeping with plan, so keep in mind the primary tip and be ready to make modifications on the fly. Unless you’re working with Meryl Streep, don’t count on your actor to be a one-take marvel. Your expertise shall be extra relaxed while you settle for the unhealthy takes in stride.

If you’re interviewing, be ready to circle again to a query. As Mat says, “You can always come back to that question later on once they’re a little bit more comfortable with some of the softer questions. When they feel like more of a professional and more comfortable, you can come back to that question and suddenly, more often than not, you’ll find that they’re able to easily answer that question for you.”

Plan time to mess up! Why do you suppose restaurant hosts at all times over-quote individuals on the wait time? It manages expectations. Planning further time into your shoot offers you a buffer if you happen to want it and, if you happen to don’t, everybody leaves pleasantly shocked at how fast and straightforward all the pieces was.

Be positive to get “one for safety,” even if you happen to’re assured you bought the shot, as a result of an additional take gives you extra decisions throughout enhancing. Phrasing it this manner may also loosen up the actors as a result of it implies their work is already accomplished. Some of one of the best performances come out on the security shot if you happen to’re prepared to be versatile and discover artistic options.

5. Set the Tone!

As their director and information, actors shall be very attentive to your temper and tone. Even if all the pieces goes flawed (and generally it can), it’s vital to maintain a courageous face. If you don’t, that fear shall be seen on display. Instead, at all times lead with positivity.

One factor that our video specialists at all times begin with is making the actor or interviewee snug. This could be as straightforward as chatting with them about one thing private or off-topic earlier than you get all the way down to work.

Getting them to talk freely for a couple of minutes with out worrying about traces or supply is commonly sufficient to loosen up the actor for the start of the shoot. As they begin to ship traces or reply questions, it’s as much as you to note their tempo and tone, and at all times convey it again to a pure state. (If solely Tommy Wiseau paid extra consideration to pacing in The Room! See what I imply within the notorious flower store scene.)

If an interviewee sounds robotic whereas delivering a memorized reply, you’ll be able to strive asking them to decelerate, or to elucidate it to you want a pal.

If you sense the vitality has dipped, get the ya ya’s out! A traditional transfer is to inform the actor to do a take as “big” (or ridiculously) as they will. Feel free to get foolish and give an instance. Shout and leap round. This will immediately carry the temper in order that the subsequent take, whereas not as ridiculous, will carry a few of that renewed vitality.

If you’re nice to work with, extra tasks and extra expertise will come your means. If you’re working for an organization, phrase will unfold across the workplace about how a lot enjoyable it’s to shoot a video with you, and you received’t should beg individuals to be on digital camera.



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