An Actor’s Director

As preproduction continues, things are going amazingly well.  I’m blessed.  Nothing has ever gone this smoothly in my life.  It’s scary because I’m waiting for the other shoe to fall.  But I am also making sure I am prepared for any conceivable setback.  If something inconceivable happens, I may be in trouble.  I better plan for that too.

This Sunday, we are holding auditions.  We posted a casting notice on the BackStage web site and got a ton of submissions.  There are so many actors out there looking for work.  It brings back memories of my stand up days and all the effort that went into booking gigs and standing out amongst one’s peers.

I’ve spent the better part of the last week looking at headshots and resumes and watching actor’s reels.  There are some really talented people out there waiting for their break.  Some of the stuff I watched was truly enjoyable.  I booked auditions for  a nice stable of good actors with the right look and personality for the roles.  I am very optimistic about having a great cast for ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? 

We rented a room at a studio in Midtown Manhattan.  Most of our actors live in New York and it adds credibility to our production to cast in that environment.  Very cool for me, a native New Yorker, to be seeing actors for my first film in the heart of the theater district.  Truly a dream come true.

One thing that is really important to me, is to give the auditioning actors every chance to succeed.  I sent them all a copy of the scene they will read.  I don’t believe in cold readings.  I want to see how they prepare and at their best.  I’m sincerely rooting for all of them and I hope every one of them blows me away and makes my team’s decision incredibly difficult.  I love actors.

Many directors I’ve talked to, or read about, express negative feelings toward actors.  A lot of filmmakers come from a technical background, especially film school graduates.  They learn everything they can about cinematography, sound, editing, writing.  But how many of them have ever taken an acting class?  I have.  A good film director should have a least a basic understanding of every aspect of filmmaking, and acting is of prime importance.

You can’t make a good movie without good performances.  To guide an actor to a good performance, you need to understand the process and what kinds of problems actors deal with.  It’s a very noble profession.  Actors are the most vulnerable people involved in production. They go in front of the camera and put it on the line, opening themselves up and exposing themselves in a very personal and profound way.

I have so much respect for that.  I want actors who are collaborators.  I want to hear their ideas and let them create the roles with just adjustments from me.  More than anything, I would love to be known as an actor’s director.  Don’t get me wrong.  I study the other aspects of filmmaking, ask questions of my crew and I can communicate with them in their language.  But I will never refer to an actor as a “necessary evil”.  I hope that I can gain their trust, make them feel comfortable and able to give me their best.  I appreciate them.  Can’t make a movie without them.

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