≡ Menu

The Director’s Chair Issue #115 (The Actors Language) February 21, 2011

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

February 21, 2011                Scene 12 – Take 2

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Website: http://actioncutprint.com
Blog: http://filmdirectingtips.com


Dear {!firstname},

You are receiving “The Director’s Chair” because you (or
someone using your email address) requested a subscription.

PRIVACY STATEMENT: This Subscriber List is a private mailing
list and will not be made available to other companies or
individuals. I value every Subscriber and respect your privacy.


1. Introduction
2. Two Bonuses for Subscribing to The Director’s Chair
3. Steampunk Neverland – A Film Director’s Journey
4. Blog – Film Directing Tips
5. Social Media
6. FEATURE ARTICLE: Directing Tools – The Actors Language
7. Write an Article for The Director’s Chair
8. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
9. Filmmaking Workshops
10. Product Promotion and Film Workshops
11. Suggestions and Comments
12. Share this Ezine
13. Reprint this Ezine
14. Copyright Information

1. Introduction

Welcome to Issue #115 of The Director’s Chair February 21, 2011

1) 5048 Filmmakers in 107 Countries Subscribe to this Ezine:

NOTE: If your country is not represented here, please let me
know and I will add it to this ever growing list.

Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas,
Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Botswana, Brazil, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile,
China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic,
Denmark, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Egypt, Estonia,
Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana,
Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran,
Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya,
Republic of Korea, Republic of Kosova, Kurdistan, Kuwait,
Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi,
Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal,
Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru,
Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania,
Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Serbia and
Montenegro, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan,
Sweden, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tanzania,
Thailand, Trinidad and Tabago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United
Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay,
Venezuela, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe

2) Feature Article – The feature article is called “Directing
Tools – Understanding The Actors Language. Actors want to work
with directors who understand their specific working language.
When a director understands the actor’s language, they will be
able to communicate with the actors more efficiently, which
will help them to achieve more believable and well-grounded
performances.” (Read full article below.)

3) To Subscribe or Unsubscribe to this Ezine, send a blank
email to: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com

4) To Change Your Email Address, send an email with your old
and new email address to mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com

5) To Read Back Issues of The Director’s Chair, visit:


Peter D. Marshall

2. Two Bonuses For Subscribing To The Director’s Chair

Thank you very much for subscribing to this ezine.

BONUS #1 – Here is the link to download the first 28 pages of
“The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar.”

BONUS #2 – Here is the link to download the first 24 pages of
the “Script Breakdown and Film Scheduling Online Course.”

3. Steampunk Neverland – A Film Director’s Journey

I’m directing the last film in a series from the Entertainment
Business Management program of the Vancouver Film School
called “Steampunk Neverland.” I will be using my blog
(FilmDirectingTips.com) as my weekly journal to demonstrate
what a director goes through during the three production
phases of a film.

My goal with this journal is to put you in the passenger seat
with me and give you an insider’s view of how this short, low
budget film was made, as it happens! Please check out the blog
posts here: http://filmdirectingtips.com/archives/6129

4. Blog – Film Directing Tips

Please take a look at the many articles on my blog,
http://FilmDirectingTips.com and make some comments on the
posts. Your feedback is important to me because they will help
me decide on the content of this blog.

5. Social Media

1) Facebook – The Director’s Chair has it’s own page on
Facebook. If you haven’t signed up to Facebook yet, I
sincerely recommend you think about doing it. Facebook is a
fabulous place to meet people who share your passions and it
is one of the top Social Networking sites on the Internet.

Here’s the Facebook home page: http://www.facebook.com Once
you are signed up, type in “The Directors Chair” and the page
should come up. Sign up as a fan and then start to join the
discussion forums, post photos, videos and write on the Walls.

If you are already a member of Facebook, here is the direct
link to the page: http://snipurl.com/923qh

2) Twitter – If you have a Twitter account, let’s follow each
other. You can follow me at http://twitter.com/bcfilmmaker.

6. FEATURE ARTICLE: Directing Tools – The Actors Language

What do actors want more than anything from a Director?


To find a character they are playing, actors must surrender
completely to feelings and impulses – they must allow
themselves to be vulnerable. As a result, actors want to work
with Directors who can create a safe place for them to perform
and who understand their vulnerabilities.

Actors also want to work with directors who understand their
specific working language. When a director understands the
actor’s language, they will be able to communicate with the
actors more efficiently, which will help them to achieve more
believable and well-grounded performances.

Here are some of the more important parts of the actor’s
language that every director should know.

(1) Scene Objectives

What is the intent of the scene? Why is this scene in the
story? What happens in the scene? What is the reason for the
scene? Does it move the story forward?

The scene objective carries the character through this
particular scene. It is also something that a character must
achieve in that scene. It is something the character
consciously desires and wants to achieve.

These overall objectives are what drive the entire film
forward and create a state of suspense that generates audience

РWhat’s going to happen next?
– What will the outcome be?
– Who wins in the end?

(2) Character Objectives

1. Super Objective (“Power Over People”)
– What is the primal motivation of the character?
– What are the main needs of the character?

2. Objectives (“To Dominate Character X”)
– What does the character want (motives)?
– What are his active choices to achieve the super objective?

3. Main Actions (“What They Do To Character X”)
– What the character DOES…
– To get what he WANTS…
– To fulfill his NEEDS

4. How to Choose Objectives

Ask yourself  ‚ÄúWhat does the character want in this

A character’s objective should create obstacles for the
character in the story.

In a story, characters rarely get what they want without
difficulty. How they go about trying to fulfill their
objectives is what makes for interesting drama.

The actors have to find that need and create it within
themselves. They then have a reason for their behavior.

(3) Text, Subtext and Context

1. Text is what is said. (It is the outer world of the

The text is what we get from the screenwriter. Text is what
forms the script – it is the dialogue and the stage

The Text in a script is like a map: we use it to find out
where we are going – but how we get there is up to the actors
and the director.

2. Subtext is what is thought. (It is the inner world of the

Whether we realize it or not, most of the time we have an
interior monologue going on. However, we may not decide to
outwardly express any of them.

What characters are really thinking has a great effect on how
actors move and how they deliver their lines. When subtext is
strong, it comes through and colors how the dialogue is

The subtext communicates that more is going on within the
person that they are sharing – that an inner conflict is

Subtext is a good way to help actors find out if they
understand the scene.

Subtext is what your characters really think or believe – the
content underneath the spoken dialogue.

3. Context means the circumstances in which the text is used.
It is usually the background, time period or the environment
relating to a particular event in the story.

The director can also adapt the context of a script to conform
with the particular needs of a production. For instance, Baz
Lurman’s version of “Romeo and Juliet” which was updated to
the modern suburb of Verona yet still retained the original

(4) Conflict

Conflict is the heart of all drama – for without conflict,
there is no drama.

From an actor’s point of view, conflict is the result of two
objectives in conflict with each other.

Five Sources of Conflict

1) Man against Man
2) Man against Himself
3) Man against Environment/Nature
4) Man against Society
5) Man against God/Principle

(5) Action Verbs

Verbs stimulate emotion. They have an emotional effect on
another person. The intention, or the verb, may change often,
even in a sentence.

‘Actions’ are active verbs. ‘I tempt you.’ ‘You taunt me.’ In
order to perform an action truthfully-and therefore
convincingly, an actor needs to find the right action to suit
that particular situation and that particular line.

By using action verbs instead of adjectives, the actor doesn’t
have to think “Now I’m supposed to be getting happy.” Instead,
the actor can concentrate completely on the situation and his
objectives. That is the motivation and that’s what the actor
needs to make a character come alive.

Actors need actions. Actors cannot ‘act’ adjectives Рthey
need verbs. So, instead of asking an actor to play it sexy,
ask the actor to flirt with the other actor.  This encourages
the actor to engage with the other actor, rather than be
focused on being sexy.

The best thing about verbs is that you can play with the
intensity.  If you want more energy or intensity, give a
stronger verb.  If at first they are playing ‚Äúto complain‚Äù
about something and you want more, ask them ‚Äúto warn.‚Äù  If
that isn’t enough ask them “to punish.”

Examples of action verbs: If I want you to leave the room, I
might INVITE you to leave. If that doesn’t work, I might BEG
you to leave. If that doesn’t work, I might DEMAND that you

(6) Result Direction

Directing for results means telling the actors what you want
to see and hear without giving them any clues as to why or how
they will get there. Basically, you are telling the actor how
to react. Example: “I want you to be sad or happy or more
angry. I want you to shout, laugh louder or cry more.”

The problem with result direction is not realizing that an
actor’s emotions are the results of needs and wants. Emotional
responses come as a consequence of trying to fulfill a need.
“Thoughts lead to Feelings lead to Actions lead to Results”

Result direction takes the actor’s concentration off his
partner and puts it on himself. He will start focusing on his
own performance rather than listening to the other actor. This
makes for a false connection.

Don’t tell actors how to feel. A good director uses other ways
to suggest ideas: facts, images, action verbs. Good directing
becomes a matter of searching for the right keys to unlock the
potential in each actor.

(7) Obstacles

Obstacles are what stand in the way of a character achieving
their objective. Obstacles increase the stakes and clarify the

An obstacle intensifies the conflict because as the story
progresses, it becomes harder to achieve the objective.

(8) Beats

Beats are defined as changes of circumstances or transitions
in behavior in the script. A beat can be one sentence or half
a page.

Whenever something changes in the scene, or whenever a new
behavior or subject occurs, that is the start of a new beat.

(9) Permission

Giving Permission is a very powerful tool for the director.
Permission allows the actor to go to places he/she needs for
the role.

Sometimes you have to allow actors to play, try things, play
with opposites, and take risks using play. No judgments, just
play, in order to discover the unexpected.

(10) In the Moment

When an actor is “not in the moment”, they are in their heads
and not in their bodies.

When we intellectualize our feelings and emotions, we are not
in the moment. Although working on a back story, which can be
the actor’s job, can help to feed a character.

Being in the moment for an actor has to do with freedom and
trust. It has to do with an actor not watching himself. The
actor who is “in the moment” is thinking real thoughts and
experiencing real feelings. He is responsive to the world
around him and to the behavior of other actors.

(11) Listening

The most powerful way an actor can stay in the moment is to
listen to what is being said. Just like in real life… observe
what happens around you. Or if the objective is to “not
listen” Рignore, that’s a different story.

(12) Physical Sensation

Knowing or taking into consideration the temperature of the
scene is important. (Hot, cold, windy, etc)

(13) Improvisation

Improvisation is a good tool to use with actors when they are
having a difficult time understanding or relating to a scene.

By letting the actors improvise the scene, you are letting
them have the freedom to get under the lines and find a
meaning to them. In other words, it allows them to find the
subtext of the scene.

Improvisation is also another way to discover something in the
scene you may have missed. It is also a good way to just
loosen the actors up.

(14) Stakes

To raise the stakes means to increase a character’s commitment
or involvement in the story. This usually implies doing
something that will increase the level of risk for a

How important is it for your characters to reach their goal?
“If they don’t get across the river they will die.” “If he
doesn’t propose today, he’ll lose the girl.” How far will a
character go to reach their objective?

(15) Character Arc

A character arc is the beginning, middle and end of a
character’s or inner emotional change. It is based on the idea
that there should be a progression to the character as the
story develops.

The beginning of the journey is never the same as the end.
What is the transformation that your character will go
through. How is she/he at the end vs. the beginning? What does
she/he learn, lose, acquire?

Characters begin the story with a certain viewpoint and,
through events in the story, that viewpoint changes.

(16) Back Story & Biography

Actors should know what happened just before the scene they
are doing. They also need to fill out their character’s life
without saying anything that will show up in layers in the

(17) Business (Props, Tasks)

Sometimes it’s so good to have another task to do during a
speech or a dialogue. Actors can do well with “business”.

(18) Italian Reading

This is when the actors run their dialogue very quickly
several times. The objective here is to get them out of their
heads (don’t think about their lines) and get into their
bodies (listen and feel.)

7. Do You Want To Write An Article For The Director’s Chair?

If you would like to contribute articles, tips, links of
interest, industry news, interviews, special event dates or
other resources to The Director’s Chair, please email me at:

8. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion (Free Advertising)

The Director’s Chair gives you an incredible opportunity to
get Free Advertising for your services and your films.

Each month, I give two subscribers an opportunity to promote
themselves, their company or their productions in this

So if you want over 5000 filmmakers around the world to know
about you and your films, please send me your “shameless
self-promotion” to: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com.

Please limit your promotion to 200 words. I reserve the right
to edit the promotion for length, spelling and formatting.

(1) THE SKELLYS “Who lives next door to you?”

Hang with Australia’s strangest family on a household day
where things done get broke.  A suburban fantasy inside a
remote reality.

Heaps of bonus content for your subscribers via Facebook.
Previsualisation images, location photos, press kit images too.


(2) My name is Lisa Leake and I promote music, dance (and now
screenplays!). I am a prolific writer/musician who has unique
world/jazz/rock music PLUS screenplays (based on worldly
travels.) Separate or possibility of one supporting the other.

Screenplay #1: “KAMPING” – 88 pages 
(horror, camping, tongue-in-cheek ala “Creepshow”) 

Screenplay #2: “LETHAL INJECTION” – 98 pages 
(hospital drama, romance, ala “Coma”) 

Screenplay #3: “SAND & CEREMONY” – 90 pages 
(supernatural, cultural, musical) 

Screenplay #4: “TWIN CROSSING” – 100 pages 
(psychological thriller, romance) 

Please contact me with for further information.

9. Filmmaking Workshops – Peter D. Marshall

I have worked in the Film and Television Industry for over
37 years – as a Film Director, Television Producer, First
Assistant Director and Series Creative Consultant. I’ve been
asked many times to share my Film and TV production
knowledge with others. As a result, I developed several
workshops that I have successfully presented over the past
15 years.

To find out more about these workshops, just click on the
link below. If you are interested in any of these four
workshops for yourself or your organization, please contact
me to discuss how we can bring these workshops to you.

10. Product Promotion And Film Workshops

From time to time, I will contact you to inform you of film
workshops, filmmaking products or Online courses that I feel
are beneficial to filmmakers like yourself. Of course, you are
under no obligation to purchase anything – I only offer this
information as a service to subscribers of this free ezine.

11. Suggestions And Comments

Send any comments, suggestions, questions or advice to:

12. Share This Ezine

Share this Ezine by email and forward it to your friends and

13. Reprint This Ezine

This Ezine may be reprinted with permission. Email me at:

14. Copyright Information

Copyright (c) 2000-2011
Peter D. Marshall
All Rights Reserved