Directing Actors: Unlock Amazing Performances For Your Film | Dean Peterson | Skillshare

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Actores directivos: desbloquea espectaculares actuaciones para tu película

teacher avatar Dean Peterson, Writer/director/producer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Hablar con actores


    • 3.

      Cómo corregir el rendimiento


    • 4.

      Cómo dar una dirección


    • 5.

      Herramientas de dirección


    • 6.

      Cómo colaborar en Set


    • 7.

      Reflexiones finales


  • --
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El nivel se determina según la opinión de la mayoría de los estudiantes que han dejado reseñas en esta clase. La recomendación del profesor o de la profesora se muestra hasta que se recopilen al menos 5 reseñas de estudiantes.





About This Class

¡Aprovecha las conjeturas de dirigir actores y aborda tu próximo proyecto con confianza!

Dean Peterson, director ganador de premios, te guiará en el proceso de entender lo que los actores están buscando como director. Paso a paso, esta clase desglosará el proceso de dirección en acciones concretas que puedes usar en tu próximo proyecto. Ya sea que dirijas un cortometraje con tus amigos o una película de gran presupuesto, obtendrás todas las herramientas que necesitas para sentirse seguro como director.

A través de ejercicios y ejemplos que aprenderás:

  • Cómo hablar con los actores
  • Qué hacer cuando una actuación no está funcionando
  • Los actores de dirección eficaces
  • Cómo colaborar para fomentar un ambiente divertido y productivo

Además, un ejercicio práctico para descomponer la escena de tu script por escena para poder acercarte a tu próxima sensación de preparación

Esta clase si para cualquier cineasta que haya sido hecho alguna vez por un actor y congelado, sin saber qué decir. Al final tendrás las herramientas para dar una dirección efectiva y segura a los actores para sacar el mejor rendimiento posible. ¡La producción de películas pasará de una experiencia confusa y agrupa a una que sea divertida y colaborativa!

¡Lo único que necesitas para esta clase es un pedazo de papel y un bolígrafo!

Conoce a tu profesor(a)

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Dean Peterson


Top Teacher

Dean Peterson is a writer, director, and producer based in Los Angeles, CA.

He has written and directed three feature films: INCREDIBLY SMALL, WHAT CHILDREN DO, and KENDRA AND BETH. He also was the cinematographer on the film GLOB LESSONS. His films have played at dozens of festivals around the world.

As a video producer he has worked with Vox, Conde Nast, CNBC, Reddit, B&H, and Facebook.

He also created the viral TikTok account Sink Reviews.

He has two cats who do not get along very well.

Check out more of his work at his website.

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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Directing actors freaked me out. I had no idea what to say to them. I went to film school for four years and they didn't teach me anything about how to talk to actors. So I just winged it, which is definitely not a great way to make a movie. My name is Dean Peterson and I'm a filmmaker in Brooklyn, New York. Over the course of my career, I've made three low budget feature films which have played a dozens of festivals around the world. Idp, another film that premiered at Tribeca, and I edited another that premiered at South by Southwest. I've also made a bunch of short films along the way. In today's class, I'm going to teach you how to talk to you and direct actors. If you're a filmmaker, there's probably been a time when you've been freaked out by actors during a shoot and actor asked you a question and you had no idea how to respond. So you panicked and maybe you made something up on the spot, or maybe you've tried to give an actor or a piece of direction only to have them look at you as if you're speaking ancient Greek. If so, then this class is for you. I will give you the skills that you need to be able to get through to actors and effectively in part to them what you need. We're gonna go through some situations that are maybe familiar to you and talk about some common mistakes, then I'm going to offer you tools that any filmmaker can take with them and use on their next project. Directing actors doesn't have to be scary. Once you understand how actors think and what they need from you as a director. And once you've got a couple of secret weapons in your arsenal, your films will not only turn out better, but you'll have more fun making them. Working with actors is my favorite part of filmmaking. And after this class, I hope it will be yours as well. This class is geared towards not only filmmakers but directors of all kinds. These tips will apply whether you're shooting a short student film of big-budget Hollywood film or a play, all you'll need is some paper and a pen to take notes. If you're currently working on a script, grab that two together. We'll talk through how to break it down and mark it up to best communicate with your actors. So let's put our director's hat on and get started. 2. Talking to Actors: There are a bunch of different approaches that actors utilize. Some you may have heard of before, Stanislavski, Meissner, method, etcetera, regardless of which approach and actor uses or doesn't use, your job as a director is to make sure that they have what they need to do their job. It might help for you to have a basic understanding of these different methods. But in all likelihood, even if an actor is trained in a specific school of acting, it will probably never come up. I, for instance, have never discussed a specific school of acting with any actor I've ever worked with. Whatever process and actor uses is mostly internal and just for them, it's a tool that helps them to do their job. Part of their job is to take the script and your direction and to translate it into something that they can work with internally. Actors are masters of this. So don't worry too much about tailoring your direction to this or that technique that said, there are some things that you can do or think about that can make their job easier. Often, you'll wanna do more than one take of something. If this is the case, your actors will probably be wondering why when you say cut, okay, That was great. Let's go again. Your actors will probably want some direction, something to try or something to do differently. Give them something if the focus was off and you want to do it again for camera, tell them if their performance isn't quite there yet. Work with them. Don't just do five takes without giving your actors anything different to do. Actors don't want to just be swinging blindly in the dark. Let me give you an example. I once had a job as a video editor. When I would submit a cut of a video to my boss, they would tell me the music isn't really working. So I asked them, Okay, What about it isn't working? And they wouldn't have an answer for me. They just told me to try something else. So I would try something different which also didn't seem to work for them. This was incredibly frustrating. I had no problem trying different song options. I just wanted something to aim at, something with no marimba, slower song track that is more minimal. Similarly, you need to give your actors something to work with. If you're just having them doing the same thing over and over, then you need to ask yourself why you need to do more takes. Another thing that you should try to do is to say something to them after every take. Actors are often like Olympic gymnast. They do their routine and then they look toward the judges to see what their score was. Actors are usually focused on the scene and not necessarily watching their performance. So they're relying on you to give them feedback on how it was. So even if you got what you need and are moving on, say something to them. Even as something as simple as that was wonderful. Thank you. This will show that you're paying attention and let them know that they don't have to watch their own performance. Sometimes though, a performance isn't working for you. In the next lesson, we'll talk about what to say the actor is when this happens 3. Correcting Performance: Sometimes it actors performance isn't quite where you want it to be at. In that instance, you need to communicate to them what you're looking for, which at the end of the day is what directing is. But when you're talking to Actors, you need to imagine things from their perspective. Imagine what it would be like to be an actor and to receive that direction. A great rule of thumb is to give them things that are Actionable. What that means is this. Imagine giving the direction to an actor to act scary. Acting scary isn't an action that somebody can do. It's a result that you want. But what does that mean? What do you want the actor to do? You want them to scream? Do you want them to flail around wildly? Do you want them to stare without breaking eye contact? These all could potentially be construed as Acting scary. This is what's called result oriented direction. You want the results to be somebody on screen or on stage who appears a certain way. But what the audience sees is just a result of what the actor does. It would be like telling a chef to make you something delicious. Okay, But do you want a smoothie? Do you want a steak? Actors are the same way. Give them an action to perform instead of what you want the outcome to be. If you want them to rip their shirt off and yell, tell them that. Rip your shirt off and yell is something that an actor can do. What their actions convey. Bravery or sexiness or boredom will flow from that. A lot of time inexperienced director is feel that they need to give flowery long direction to an actor in order to seem like they know what they're doing. I totally get it. I was the same way when I started. I would blab on and on until even I didn't know what I was talking about. But more often than not, this ends up with the director giving conflicting and confusing directions. You love her, but you're angry at her. You've never been happier in your life, but at the same time you're sad that your parents aren't there to see it. This is going to seriously confused an actor. Do you want them to be happy or sad? In real life, humans are complicated and can experience a plethora of emotions at one time. But actors can only do one thing at a time. Try to winnow down what you want an actor to do and make sure that it's not conflicting when you give vague, unspecific, or conflicting direction. In addition to generally being bad direction, it can also be very subjective. Going back to our previous example, saying you want somebody to act scary could mean a lot of things. One person might think that's scary. Behavior is screaming. Another person might think that absolute silence is scary. Those are two very different but equally valid interpretations of Acting scary. So instead of getting broad, result oriented direction, give your actors specific actionable things to do and trust that the result will come in. Actor can't really misinterpreted when you tell them to slam a door. Sure. There are various ways to slam a door, but it's a whole lot easier to work with an actor to get the right door slam. It is to get on the same page as to what Acting angry means. In the next lesson, we'll go over a few more ways to avoid giving result oriented direction 4. Giving Actionable Direction: We as directors want to avoid giving result oriented direction. And the best way to do that is to use something called the action verbs. These are simple, effective, and direct ways to convey the actors what you want them to do. There's no confusion when you say slam the door. Slam is an action verb and these are your friend. Action verbs allow you to be as clear and succinct as possible. Sometimes all you will need to say to an actor is one word to convey what you want. If you tell an actor to wound somebody in a scene, I don't think you could be any more clear. There is no reason to say you're mad at your sister for the years of neglect and this is your chance to enact revenge? No. Just say you want to wound her. The rest is on the page. Give it a try and see how powerful action verbs can be. Speaking of action verbs, this right here is your new Bible. It's called actions, the actors, Thesaurus by Marina Calderon and Maggie Lloyd Williams. Yes, It says that it's for actors, but you will get just as much use out of it as they will. In a later lesson, I'll show you how to go through your script and break down each scene into action verbs so that you'll have them at your fingertips. Onset action verbs are great to direct actors, but what if the scene is just a bunch of dialogue with no actual action for the actors to do. Well, give them something to do. This is what I like to call business. If a character is supposed to be anxious and frustrated, maybe have them pick up a bunch of dry spaghetti that's spilled all over the floor while doing the scene where if a character is supposed to be distracted or ignoring somebody, have them actually do a crossword puzzle. This kind of business gets texture to a scene and we'll add vibrance and life to a performance. Actors appreciate it when they've got something to actually do, instead of just standing there talking. Of course, action has to be called for. If it's a courtroom cross-examination scene, don't have the actor playing badminton, but maybe they can flex with the clasp on their wristwatch. Action doesn't have to be big. Sometimes the smaller the better. One last thing that I want to mention here is that no matter what direction you're giving an actor, keep it succinct. Don't say something in 100 words. When you can say it in ten. For me, I usually try to keep it around one sentence. I know that if I'm giving direction that's more than one sentence, I tend to ramble. And once you start rambling, You're probably not being clear. If there's a lot of stuff you want to add or change in a scene. Do it piece by piece. Don't tell an actor. Move over here and do this a little bit slower, but the next bit faster, and add emphasis on this word and R4 into the room, but then sneak, that is too much and actor will get bogged down and we'll be working so hard to check everything off the list that they won't really be present in the moment. Give them one thing to try, like stand in his way when he's trying to leave. If you like it, then say, That was great. Let's try it again, but this time, blank. Build it out piece by piece. In the next lesson, we're gonna go over a few final directing tools to help round out your kid 5. Directing Tools: Sometimes you're working on a scene with an actor and you get stumped, their performance isn't working and you just don't know what to tell them to do or they're asking you a question that you don't know the answer to. There are a few questions and things you can discuss with them that will help you work the scene out. Let's check out a scene from one of my films that we can analyze. Hey, hey, I came all this way. You can at least by me and macro room, your weight. Stop. Wait a second. What you actually do that what the guy said. I don't want to talk about it. Why would you do that? Why would you make pesto regular Tony and then put it in the cooler here? I don't know. It makes me feel better. Are you? Yeah, I'm fine. This is really, really uncomfortable for me. So can we just stop talking about it? Yeah. Okay. Fine. Did you take the bus here? Yeah. Do you want me to give you a ride home? I am actually going over to Joe. The first tool that will utilize is facts. So I'm gonna make a category that says facts. Facts are a powerful tool when you're talking to actors. And the best part about them is that you don't have to figure anything out there already right there on the page. If an actor comes up to you and says, why would my character do this? You can simply respond by telling them the facts of the scene. So let's write down some of the facts from this scene. Kendra just found out Beth's deepest secret. The weather is freezing. Kendra had to get dressed and take the bus to go pick up Beth. Kendra is getting dropped off at Joseph's. These could all be used to help an actor figure out how to play the scene, even just the fact that the weather is freezing could help inform how an actor might approach it. They might be in more of a rush to get into the car that way. These also aren't anything I had to make up. These are just facts of the script so they're self-evident and can really help inform a performance. The next one is questions. This is kinda the Socratic method of directing, where you can help an act or figure out the scene just by asking them questions about it. And then they do all the work for you. So going back to our example scene, Let's write down some questions for the actors. Was Kendra in the middle of something when Beth called? Has Beth ever really relied on anybody to do something for her? You don't have to do a ton of these just a few will do. Then if an actor is stuck, you can simply ask them one of these questions. For instance, if the actor playing Beth isn't responding the way that you envisioned, you could just ask her, has Beth ever been this vulnerable in front of somebody before? That's a powerful way into a scene. Go through each scene of your script and write down some questions you could ask your actors. The next one is images. This is when you tell an actor something to imagine while doing a scene that can help inform their performance. Going back to our example scene, I could tell the actor playing Beth, imagine a time in your life when you were the most humiliated. That's going to give them a good idea of what the character is experiencing and how to play it truthfully. If you're giving an actor this direction, don't ask them what actually is the most humiliated they've ever been is it's just for them to personally find a way into the scene. It's something for them to use internally. Images are effective directions and they're often only a quick short sentence. The next one is what just happened. Similar to stating the facts of a scene. Stating what just happened to a character or what happened in the previous scene can help quickly and effectively inform how an actor should play a scene. You just had a long exhausting shift at work. You were just standing in the cold for an hour. You just had a fight at dinner. These are all really great things you can say to an actor that will help them clarify how to play a certain scene. And once again, it's not something you have to make up. The script is doing all the work for you. The next one is objective. This is one of the tools that actors use that can seem a bit hippy, dippy to some filmmakers, but a lot of actors think about it. So you should at least be prepared to talk about it. In objective is what a character wants or needs in a scene. Sometimes it's simple and explicitly laid out in a script. Frank wants to break up with an a for example, but sometimes it's not spelled out and you'll have to make a choice. It could be something as simple as you need to get validation. The next one is action verbs. Like we talked about before. Action verbs are an incredibly powerful and effective thing to have in your arsenal. Let's go through the scene and give each character a few action verbs. So for Beth, I'll write evade, escape, cower, and hide. And for Kendra. Alright, chase, interrogate, pry, and finally, cover up. These directions. Cut to the heart of what you want an actor to do without muddied the waters or confusing them. The next one is adjustments. The final tool to add to your kit is adjustments. This is where you tell an actor to do a scene as if play it as if they're your little nephew. Play it as if the finger doing is due tomorrow. Play it as if the person you're talking to is really famous. This is another tool that can help an actor visualize the performance that you're aiming for. It's also an opportunity for you to get a little creative and to think outside the box with your directing. So as a reminder, here's the list of tools again, for every movie that I make, I go through the script scene by scene and fill in each of these categories. It forces me to not only really think through the script and how I see the movie playing out in my head. But also look, it gives you a handy cheat sheet that you can reference anytime onset with these tools, you'll be better prepared and ready to answer any question and actor has. You'll be amazed by how much more prepared you'll feel once you've created this document. And it'll spark tons of new ideas and perspectives you had never thought of. So your assignment for this lesson is to take these list of tools and go through and analyze whatever script you're working on or planning to shoot. Go through scene by scene and break it down, write down some questions, action verbs, adjustments, etc. If you don't have a script you're currently working on, download the script of one of your favorite movies and use it to practice. The best way to get a hang of these things is to actually use them. So it's time to put them into practice 6. Collaborating On Set: So you've got all your ducks in a row. You've analyzed every scene of your script and you've made a detailed analysis document with action verbs, adjustments, and images ready to go. Then an actor comes up to you between takes and has a brand new idea for how to do a scene. What you expect me to just undo all that work I did and try something new. What do you do in this situation? You tell them to take a hike, right? Actually, no. It can be really scary for filmmakers, especially new ones, to allow themselves to be open to ideas from others. After all, we're geniuses and we know what's best, right? Well, sometimes, but I highly encourage you to check your ego at the door and to open the process up for actors to contribute their ideas. Actors often have incredible new ideas that you may have never thought of. After all, they've probably thought about the script more than anyone, even you. And if you ignore those ideas, you're potentially missing out on opportunities to make your film is rich and interesting as it could be in the process. You'll also turn your actors often make them feel like their input isn't valued, which can cause them to stop opening up, which is really the opposite of what you want them to do. You want to create an environment on set where actors feel like they can offer suggestions and feedback. If something isn't working in a scene, or if they have an idea that could make it more interesting. You want them to feel safe coming up to you to express it that way you've got what you need in the can and the actor feels like you're actually listening to them. Earning their trust will go a long way towards having them give their best and most honest performance, creating an open and collaborative environment onset does have its limits though. Your cast and crew should feel like a team who are all contributing and working together to create something wonderful. But I would make one little suggestion. Let everybody onset know that their ideas are welcome and that you'll consider and try them, but they should give them to you in private. It can be really difficult for actors. If while you're trying to figure out a scene, the sound person says, Hey, you should try this. Maybe, but if it's counter to what you're going for, then it can really just confused the actors. If your mom says that you can go to the sleepover, but your dad says that you're grounded, you're going to feel pulled in two directions and not know what to do. Your parents should get together alone, figure out what their decision is, and then present it to you. And it's the same way onset 7. Final Thoughts: Actors are not scary. Once you realize how they think and what they need from you, directing them can be pretty simple and fun. I hope that this class demystified the acting process a little bit and gave you the tools that you need in order to effectively communicate with actors with a little bit of practice and the right preparation. It can be incredibly exciting to collaborate with actors personally, it's my favorite part of the entire film making process, and I hope going forward, it will be yours as well. If you've got any more questions or suggestions you'd like to share, please leave them in the class discussion section. I'd love to hear them and make sure to share a copy of your script analysis that you wrote down for the example scene, it'll be fun to see everyone's different ideas. Thank you so much for watching, and I'll see you in the next class.