Directing Actors Masterclass

Kooj Chuhan over at kooj.net is a well known film-maker and I’m glad to say I had the pleasure of meeting him during a director’s master-class.

Our day began with a round of introductions and this turned out to be my first encounter with Ash and Saif, two fellow participants on the ‘director’s master-class‘.

The theme of the workshop was directing using improvisation, so we were introduced to the pros and cons whilst partaking in the various role plays which led to filming with five volunteers. What’s interesting is how filming becomes better when using improvisation and how the dialogue, action or inaction improves the filming.

In the afternoon session we discussed the script we would use as the basis of our improvisation. A contradiction in terms, you may think. However, all improvised work has a framework to base the improvisation on and ours was an existing script.

It is recommended to read a script at least three times to understand the true depth of the story being told. The first reading is simply to understand what the story is about. The second is to understand the characters and how they fit together, and the third reading is all about your character.

The script was then put aside and we began the improvisation session. At this point, I might add, I had never acted before, so jumping in with both feet into the world of acting, let alone improvisation, was a bold step. There were numerous takes and retakes, and on each occasion I was being directed to truly grasp the character’s demeanour, mindset and thought processes.

I have to hold my hands up and say that until then I had always thought acting was like child’s play: how little did I know. Acting is an art form and good actors can electrify a performance turning your film into a motion picture. This is what captures an audience’s imagination and with that you are well on your way.

The improvisation session was one of the most difficult tasks I have undertaken as part of my holistic approach to film-making and I would highly recommend it to ensure that you have a firm grip on what is required and what you are asking of others.

If you have the opportunity to undertake master-classes in directing, producing, acting or any other discipline then, in my opinion, jump at the chance. These experiences all add up to making you a more complete film-maker.

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