The relationships between Actor and Director
The connection of Actor and Director is so essential that it is almost the greatest element determining the success of the performance. By performance I mean the whole visual product.
A few years ago, I took part in acting in some several TV Dramas and even my own Music Videos. To be honest, it was so much more complicating than I could have imagined. I had never been to an Acting class. I struggled to build up my confidence in front of the cameras. I had difficulties in understanding my lines and was too demented of how to use my body language.
There was once when I shot my music video, it was the part I had to walk in a really crowded coffee shop. The whole team had to retake up to 10 times, the way I sat down in front of the piano to start my performance was too awkward. It was the first scene of the video and definitely a really bad beginning. I started to be panic, I was afraid I had wasted so much time and we could not have finished filming by the end of that day. The director came up with a solution. He showed me how to sit down and put hands on the piano. It was so funny that I realised I was good at copying. I acted exactly the same way as his gesture. However, the director said I had no feelings, I was like on duty, not willing to give performance to the people in the coffee shop.
He told me to think of the moment when I started playing piano as usual, think of the emotion I want to express through a song. He inspired me with his gentle guide. We took five minutes to talk and I have to say, it worked.
Therefore, a part of “On film-making: an introduction to the craft of the director” written by Mackendrick has reminded me how the Director and me – an Actress, communicated with each other.
“Just as the most careful tracing of any drawing will always seem inexpressive compared with the original, so an actor’s copy of somebody else’s performance is liable to be unconvincing and false.” It was true in my case.
An actor can exactly copy someone else’s body language, even how to speak out his line, but no way he can imitate the feelings. Instead of showing actor “you need do this, you need do that”, the director should motivate and let the actor reveal his true feelings. Let him control his own act through your inspiration. You will have your actor perform like the way you want, with his pure imagination and real emotion.
Mackendrick also indicated on his book, “Never ignore the actors.” The director may be “freak out” when everything is on wrong direction. There is no need to put your anger on the actors. This not only improves the situation but also makes it worst. When the actor has to make too many retakes, talk to him. Be sympathetic and figure out what can make his performance better. And when he does his work well, admire him. A compliment might be the best component, it is a motive for the actor to maintain his good effort continuously.
I found Mackendrick’s work really helpful. It causes me to remember when I was an actress for my own video. Whether there is a chance to take part in acting or directing in the future, I now know what it is like from both sides of Actor and Director. A close positive relationship needs to be built up and the output result, of course, will turn to be successful.
Mackendrick, A. On film-making: an introduction to the craft of the director, (p. 179 – 194). London: Faber and Faber, 2004.