Top 10 Tips for Finding a Director

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I would love to work with Paul Greengrass as part of a featured small role in one of his films.  He is a Director who comes across, almost instantly, as someone who makes an actor feel at ease in what they are there to do and makes it a lot of fun.

Here are some greats on directing:

What more could you ask for, but how does he do it? Well, here are some of my ideas on what makes a great director from an actors perspective:

Top 10 to help you find the right Director

Continuing my series for pre-festival roles for your productions, I’m talking this month about how to find a good Director.

If you missed last month’s post on writers, you can read it by clicking here.

Now, my top 10 for what I look for in a Director:

  1. I love directors who let the actor feel their way through the script before they get too involved in rehearsals. This builds trust in the actor and the belief that when the director does speak, it’s clear and precise. I like to see them sculpture a performance rather than need to mould all aspects of a piece.
  2. Definitely, I prefer Directors who don’t act in their own shows.

I believe the views for the Director and Actor are quite different.

The Director sees the whole world of the play. The actor sees only what’s in front of them – namely their fellow actor.

I’m not a big fan of those who insist on wearing both hats. I’ve only met a few who can change these hats well and easily.  Plus, unless you are doing your performance in a media format, it’s impossible to see yourself, as you are always in it.

  1. A Director who believes in their actors to always, always pull out a good performance is top for me.

It’s important that they believe in you and your abilities to do the job, even when you don’t.

  1. A Director who leaves after the dress rehearsal and doesn’t keep directing you through the run of the production.

The Stage Director is meant to take over once the show opens to ensure that the Director’s vision is intact. Refer to number #3 and my blog on roles, click here for more detail.

  1. Fielding questions from actors is a real skill set for a good Director.

Actors crave, ask for and want attention, it’s in our blood. Sometimes this gets in the way of just getting on with a rehearsal or the brief recap that often happens.

There can be actors out there that feel they must be vocal and ask questions or just plain question.

I love a director, who knows how to steer around them, move on, yet still ensure an actors needs are met.

  1. I don’t like a Director who says to actors – ‘Work it out amongst you.’

This is not someone I hold in high regard, unless, of course, that director is running out of time.

What I’d prefer is someone who directs. Even the smallest part or has an assistant director who takes this role up and are well versed in the vision. So, when it all comes together, we aren’t out of sync, due to poor communication or none.

It’s important that a Director directs. By not doing this they then reduce their status and role as the Director. Actors get the wrong idea that it’s OK to direct themselves or, even worse, others.

Actors can lose respect for a Director very quickly which is hard to gain back, once lost.

It’s like a conductor, who only works with the soloist of his orchestra. Then doesn’t bother to ensure the various sections have been worked. Thus ensuring that they create their great symphonic piece.

  1. A Director who understands that all violence and sex scenes need to be choreographed is very important to me. So much so, you can read more about this from my blog, I wrote last year, by clicking here.
  2. A Director who isn’t willing to meet and discuss any issues of staging with the Music Director is a real nuisance.

It’s important that these two roles agree and get together to ensure that both of their needs and concepts work. Arguments in front of cast are never a good place to sort these misunderstandings of what each requires.

To me, it’s a bit like parents fighting; it encourages actors to take sides and only leads to dis-harmony.

  1. Directors who keep actors hanging around when they aren’t needed – a huge pet peeve of mine!

This can drain an actor of their energy much faster than over working them.

It can build resentment and encourages in an actor to question whether the director cares about them.

Actors need to feel appreciated.

They are the ones on stage exposing their vulnerable selves, they need to know that the Director has their best interests.

  1. Running to time and giving breaks are essential to a well-run rehearsal.

Directors who ignore this, do this at their own peril.

A lot of the same reasons as are outlined #9 apply here. It’s important to give actors proper breaks. It gives the cast a chance to get to know each other off stage/set and not only on stage/set.

When a Director is clear on what you will rehearse and when it allows the actor to feel confident. They can walk in and know their Director has a clear idea of how, what and when.

Of course, changes in schedule will happen, but these notes of change can be told to actors at least the day before.

Ending rehearsals on time and giving notes from the rehearsal before is best done at the start of the next rehearsal. This means actors can leave feeling well and not over think any feedback to try to make it ‘right.’

I know there’s a lot more, but this is a great place to start.  Naturally, none of this is written in stone and is merely a guideline. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you look for in a Director? Or your experiences of what has or hasn’t worked for you?  Write below!

P.S.: If you missed last month’s post on writers, you can read it by clicking here.

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