The Director’s Chair Issue #120 – July 17, 2011 (Interview with Actor/Director Trilby Jeeves)
THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR
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2. Two Bonuses for Subscribing to The Director’s Chair
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4. Give This to a Filmmaker: The Modern Moviemaking Movement
5. FEATURE ARTICLE: Interview with an Actor/Director
6. Write an Article for The Director’s Chair
7. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
8. Links of Interest
9. Blog – Film Directing Tips
10. Filmmaking Workshops
11. Product Promotion and Film Workshops
12. Suggestions and Comments
13. Share this Ezine
14. Reprint this Ezine
15. Copyright Information
Welcome to Issue #120 of The Director’s Chair July 17, 2011
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2) Feature Article – The feature article this month is Part
One of a two part interview I did with Actor/Director Trilby
Jeeves – an actor/director who has been trained in the
theatre. I believe this is important because when you finish
reading this interview, you will realize that what she is
talking about (the process of acting) is about ALL ACTING –
not just theatre or film. (Read full article below.)
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7. Modern Guerrilla Filmmaking
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8. Navigate Film Festivals and Do Them Right
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5. FEATURE ARTICLE: Interview with Actor/Director Trilby Jeeves
Filmmaking is a very young art form (less than 110 years)
compared to the rest of the arts. Theatre, on the other hand,
has been around for thousands of years. And the basic
structure of “The Play” (story, acting and directing) is the
foundation for the films we enjoy today. Theatre is a part of
our cultural history, mythology and folklore – no matter what
country we live in.
This is Part One of an interview I did with Trilby Jeeves – an
actor/director who has been trained in the theatre. I believe
this is important because when you finish reading this
interview, you will realize that what she is talking about
(the process of acting) is about ALL ACTING – not just theatre
To me, a believable performance comes from any actor who makes
us feel the truth. And for any actor to do that, they must
have certain personal qualities and training that enables them
to make an audience care about their character – and the
PETER – Trilby, how did you get started in acting?
TRILBY – I got the bug to act when I was working behind the
scenes in theatre as a costume dresser. I longed to try to be
on stage. My first role was as a clown for the children’s
theatre and I was hooked. I didn’t get to theatre school until
I was 23 and because I was living in Quebec City at the time
studying French, I ended up at a French theatre school called
“Le Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique”. I was accepted after two
auditions and 3 days of observation during workshops. My class
started out as 11 people and we ended up 8 finishing.
I am proud to say I was the first and only English student to
have ever done the course. I spent three years studying acting
and graduated successfully. It was a tough job because it was
my second language. But, I learned so much more than anyone in
my class. My teachers were just amazing.
PETER – What did you do after theatre school? Where did you
TRILBY – I went on to work in repertory theatre,
improvisational theatre, and touring. I worked in PEI, New
Brunswick, Montreal, and eventually Vancouver, and toured the
western provinces. Most of my acting experience is in theatre.
PETER – Traditionally, around the world, making a living as an
actor is a challenge – any art is!
TRILBY – As an actor you usually have to have a few
professions as the money is always rolling in so I have worked
as well as an ESL teacher, a waitress, a costume designer and
set supervisor, and started my own business as well. It all
feeds your performance. My friend and I always called all our
different experiences in life as data gathering. The more life
experience you have the richer your performance will be.
PETER – I know that you have also directed before. Does that
help you as an actor?
TRILBY – Yes, I have directed. I’m most proud of doing “The
Vagina Monologues” en francais, two years in a row. I had
about 8 women who had various experiences in acting. They were
all very eager and boldly learned their monologues and unlike
most shows, went up without scripts in hand and rocked the
audiences. It was very exciting. I loved the challenge of
getting the best out of each woman. They all gave 200%!! And
yes… I’m sure directing enhanced my acting. I don’t see how
PETER – How do you do your research on the story and on your
TRILBY – Depending on the script, I might research real people
who have had similar vocations, or situations, or I draw on my
own life experiences and find parallels. I always try to find
something in me that makes me relate to the character. A good
director will also help you to find this.
Sometimes I will write a complete back-story on a character,
especially if it’s a small character and the script doesn’t
give much information. I feed my thoughts with background.
From the inside out! Once I had a stage role for a waitress
and I spent more time with props than I did with the other
actors sitting at the table. I had many courses to deliver as
the play took place over a large meal. I had very few lines.
So. I decided to make the play all about my characters
background. I decided that I had created the supper and the
players in my head in order to answer a big question in my
head. This made my work much better and more interesting for
Otherwise I would have been a glorified props master. As a
result I had audience members ask me afterwards what I was
thinking because they could see something was going on in me.
This pleased me and confirmed that all my story creating was
valuable. I didn’t tell anyone, by the way, about this. You
don’t need to do that as long as it doesn’t interfere with
anyone else. Confirms…there are no small roles only small
PETER – Can you discuss how actors breakdown their script and
scenes (beats, objectives)
TRILBY – I tend to read, and reread a script until some
natural beats start to appear. Then I will make notes on my
script and divide certain areas – areas that obviously change.
I will name sections sometimes and give them words – could be
adjectives, nouns or verbs – that resonate with my psyche
(sounds weird but it works for me…) Maybe a scene is about a
date and my character is tired of never expressing what she
wants. This time she’s going to try. I may give myself the
verb “empower” and that helps guide the scene for me. I may
give myself the noun “self love”. Whatever resonates. I work
instinctively that way.
Saying the sentences aloud as you read helps, and even getting
to know the other characters responses help (and that can save
a day when your fellow actor forgets a line on stage…On
stage there’s no cutting and starting again…) It’s good to
know what a character wants from a scene, or another
character. Maybe my character is a wife having an argument
with her husband and they end up talking about splitting up.
My goal through all the words might be to get him to say, “I
love you”. It will change the color of your delivery.
PETER – How do you personally like to work?
TRILBY – I like to have permission to explore before anyone
puts his or her ideas to me. A director who is confident and
open will allow their actor to do this. Then you feel that
they also trust you, and your instincts. It’s all about being
part of a team. If there is a sense of freedom present then I
think one will do better. When I work in theatre I like to
read the script several times at the table, before we work
with our bodies. In French theatre they do this as they
realize the importance of knowing the work organically before
getting it up on its feet. Often, in English theatre they get
up on their feet right away, holding the script. I think this
sometimes brings on clichés because that is the first thing
that happens if you don’t understand your character or the
scene. I think table work can be hugely valuable.
I learn my lines with subtext. Understanding what is really
going on will make the lines stick. This works for me.
Everyone is different, though. Subtext is what is really being
said underneath the words actually being said. When someone
doesn’t understand the job of acting I give them the example
of how many ways I can say hello. I can say “hello” (sexily)
or I can say “hello” (it’s about time you got home) or I can
say “hello” (I’m scared)…. Goes on and on. Now apply that to
a full sentence, a paragraph and a scene and a full script.
AND, make it truthful.
PETER – As an actor, what are the differences between
performing in theatre and acting in a film?
TRILBY – When you act on a stage you have to project your
performance to a large room – could be 60 people or 1000
people, and remain real. Your gestures, and expressions are
bigger. In film the camera searches you out and finds the
gesture in the eyes, or a subtle movement. In theatre you act
in sequence with no one stopping you. Your character goes on
his/her real journey live. In film they always shoot out of
sequence and your job is to know where you are in your journey
even if you haven’t shot the scenes before.
Sometimes you are shooting the last scene first without having
lived the other scenes, and not having them part of your
psyche. That’s when your imagination really needs to work! It
is always challenging going from one to the other, depending
on your experience. Of course there are all the technical
aspects of acting or taking on a role, like learning your
lines, knowing your blocking, hitting your mark, and being
there for the other actors.
PETER – One thing I learned as a director a long time ago was
the term “Motive Determines Behaviour”. What does this mean
TRILBY – If I know why I am doing something, my behaviour,
which is my performance, should follow naturally. If you tell
me I’m angry and I don’t know why I am angry, you will get a
contrived performance. If you tell me that I’m defending the
most important person in the world to me because they’re about
to be attacked, I’m sure anger will arise naturally.
What’s my motive – to defend? However, that being said, maybe
another tact will arise that may be more interesting. Depends
on the situation. If my motive is to tell someone I love them,
and they aren’t listening, my behaviour will be determined.
Observe life around you. This is occurring constantly.
If you want to contact Trilby Jeeves, you can email her at
email@example.com and you can check out her
website at http://buffooneryworkshops.com/
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8. Links of Interest
1) Jean-Luc Godard and Film Socialisme
2) The Genius of Douglas Trumbull
3) Beyond Bollywood. Indian filmmaking is more than just song
and dance http://su.pr/2rY8XU
4) Lollywood’s (Nigeria’s) sinking ship
5) Silence Speaks: Can empowering women, by training them in
filmmaking, end poverty http://su.pr/2USvhu
6) Terrence Malick: The return of cinema’s invisible man
7) The Kids Are All Right: The Basics Still Inspire Aspiring
8) Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez on technology, creativity, and
the need for ‘a bigger gun’ http://su.pr/7NwNS9
9) Big Movies Coming in Short Packages
10) The Microbudget Conversation: A Filmmaking Tool
9. 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.
10. 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
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.
11. Product Promotion And Film Workshops
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workshops, filmmaking products or Online courses that I feel
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