Film directors should never make their actors feel pressured to act

Film and video directors are always looking to get the best performance out of their actors while still keeping on schedule with the production. This time-focused attitude, however, can ruin your actor’s performance.

While a director is under a lot of pressure to get his or her film done under a deadline, actress Chole Caroll believes that if a director puts that kind of pressure onto actors, they will not be able to give a great performance. In this article, we will look at what a director should and shouldn’t do to make sure their actors feel comfortable enough to act at their best on set.

Video courtesy: Film Courage

Films directors should never put unnecessary pressure onto their actors

Oftentimes, time-driven directors put unnecessary stress onto their crew and their actors. For instance, they might say “we’ve got to make these shots before the hour ends.” While it is good the director is conscious of the production’s timeline, those kinds of comments always add pressure for an actor to perform.

Actors need to have an environment where they feel relaxed enough to act. If they feel pressured to get the performance perfect fast, many will try and force a good performance. That never turns out well. Their performance will come out feeling obviously rushed.

“I think it adds pressure to the actor,” says Caroll referring to how directors remind actors of the time crunch. She goes on to say that when she works with her director she never feels pressured to “get somewhere.” “There’s no pressure to cry,” Caroll says, which is a very hard thing for any actor to do on the spot.

Rushing an actor will blunt their ability to perform

For any professional, it’s hard to work under pressure. But if a director thinks they are saving time by putting their own pressures onto their actors, they’re wrong. Time pressure will undoubtedly decrease the quality of an actor’s performance.

Carroll says that when a director goes, “Hey, we’ve got ten minutes, I need you to get this performance so we can move on to the next take,” it puts a lot of pressure onto an actor, so much so that the film director might have ruined any chance of getting a great performance.

Director on set with camera operator and actress
Film directors should never make their actors feel pressured to act on a time crunch

“It puts a lot of pressure on an actor that they might not give you the performance they were just going to give you in ten minutes if you’d have just not pressured them,” Carroll continues.

What should a film director do?

Now, we aren’t saying a director shouldn’t be mindful of the deadline they’re working under. However, there is a time and place to discuss the deadline with an actor. It shouldn’t be on set while they’re trying to act. The job of a director is to make sure to keep the ball moving while not stressing anyone out.

For Carroll, she says it really helps when a director understands the position the actor is in and makes them feel more comfortable on set. She also says that it really helps an actor to have a director that really understands the story, especially if it is an emotional scene. Actors learn to stay relaxed and in character on set. Directors have to respect that and be there for their actors, going over the scene, while not reminding them they need to do the scene quickly. That will remove the actor from their character’s mindset.

While it is good for directors to be mindful of the deadlines, adding unnecessary stress to your actors to get scenes done quickly will ruin their performance. Guide your actors through the scenes, be there for them when they need you, and always make sure they feel comfortable to act on set.

1 COMMENT

  1. Context is important. This advice is more important for actor close-up and/or during a dialogue / emotion-heavy scene. For wides with little to no dialogue or mostly action that you need to get through to allow for more time during the aforementioned acting-heavy shots / scenes – it helps to communicate timeframes to cast & crew.

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