HOW TO GET A GREAT PERFORMANCE FROM YOUR ACTORS.
Anybody who says there’s a secret to getting a great performance from an actor is peddling bullshit.
There. I said it. There’s no secret and now that you’ve gone and reread the headline to see if I just contradicted myself (which I didn’t) let me explain.
If you do a decent job of casting at all, the actors you hire will be professionals. They’ll have worked their asses off to get good at what they do: Taken classes, hired coaches, studied what other actors do, even read lame blogs like this one.
Along the way, they will have developed an awareness of what works for them and what doesn’t.
Some actors can haul off and get to serious emotional shit in less time than it takes you or me to remove a Band Aid. Others need to work up to it. And the way one actor works up to it can be very different from the way another actor does.
Once there, some actors peak, others plateau.
“Oh my god!” you’re thinking. “This suddenly sounds super hard! How can I possibly make it all come together when I need it to?”
Relax. It’s actually pretty simple. I’ve done the hard work for you and figured out an almost foolproof way to manage your actors so that you can help them get to the absolute best performance when your lights are set, your background is choreographed, your camera is rolling, and everybody on the crew is standing by.
Ready? Here it is. My not-secret secret to getting a great performance.
Ask your actors how they like to work. What process will get them to where you need them to be. How much rehearsal they need, how they want to prepare, how often they like to get feedback.
Then sit back and watch them do what they do, guiding them gently toward your vision.
It’s so simple, and yet so many directors refuse to do it.
Almost without exception, every actor I’ve ever talked to has told me that the key to acting is listening.
Same thing goes for directing.