The Director’s Chair Issue #123 – October 12, 2011 (Interview with an Actor/Director-Part 2)
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5. FEATURE ARTICLE: Interview with an Actor/Director-Part 2
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13. Suggestions and Comments
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Welcome to Issue #123 of The Director’s Chair Oct. 12, 2011
1) Feature Article – The feature article this month is called:
“Interview with an Actor/Director-Part Two. This is Part Two
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 or film.” (Read
full article below.)
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5. FEATURE ARTICLE: Interview with an Actor/Director – Part 2
Interview with Actor/Director Trilby Jeeves – Part Two
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 Two 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 listening to 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 – What is one of the most important elements for you as
an actor in order to do your work?
TRILBY – I guess finding the truth in the scene so it isn’t
contrived. Looking for the “aha” spot in my body where truth
resonates. Having a director who helps you find that is so
great. I need to feel like I’m performing with subtext that
makes sense to me. It has to be real somewhere.
PETER – What does finding the Truth mean to you?
TRILBY – Truth. It’s a big question. So many people live with
masks and are afraid to be truthful to themselves, and others.
When you look at a child and watch them react to something or
state something, you know they’re being truthful because they
haven’t got all the protective mechanisms in place yet. I
remember observing adults as a child and thinking they were
all out to lunch because they didn’t listen and they didn’t
tell the truth. I didn’t want to become one of them. The thing
is, finding the truth in a scene or a character doesn’t mean
you necessarily tell it.
You just need to know it. Maybe the character is hiding
something but in order to hide something you need to know what
the truth is. Then it’s interesting. And, the audience will be
compelled to watch because something is going on.
PETER – In your opinion, what is the best relationship you can
have with a director?
TRILBY – Feeling safe is huge for me. Feeling safe enough to
be vulnerable so you can go to those places in your
performance. You have a relationship with the director, and
you need to trust them. It’s like any relationship whether
it’s with a parent, a friend, a lover, or a director. If you
feel safe, you will be you more, which means you can tap into
many more places for whatever the performance calls for.
I don’t believe in bullying to get performance out of someone.
I have directed, and I got a lot more out of my performers by
doing it with love. I have also witnessed many incidents on
film sets where I was working in another capacity, actors
seeking their safe person with whom they could be,
spiritually, and feel safe to give their all. It’s hugely
important. It’s such a vulnerable job. Liking the director’s
style and trusting his/her judgment. And, the fact they chose
you must give you a good beginning of knowing this!
PETER – What is your biggest complaint about directors and
even other actors?
TRILBY – Like I was saying before, I don’t believe people
listen enough. (and that goes for life in general) Being
present, and listening is important for me. And there is more
to listening than just hearing words. There is body language,
and subtext. If you are really, truly listening you will have
the appropriate reaction, and action, if you listen to
yourself as well. Our instincts have gone array in this world,
and we need to trust them more. I say this because I sometimes
would go against my instincts because I didn’t trust myself!
Although, sometimes going against a certain instinct might
also be an interesting choice in your acting.
PETER – I have always said that we all need to feel more than
think. A good director will ask an actor to feel – then they
TRILBY – I guess it depends on what you are thinking. If you
are thinking about your hair, make up or your costume or
whether the sound guy is annoyed with you, then yes, NOT
thinking is good. If you are thinking about how the situation
in the script reminds you of something that really happened to
you that probably is proactive. This way you can tap into your
own feelings about a situation.
Find what makes you sense the dialogue or scene in a real way.
Our feelings are what we tap into for the authenticity of the
moment. If we intellectualize too much we lose the
Commitment is big too. Make a decision and commit to it. It
will be stronger and more alive than a half made choice.
Strangely, a lot of principles of the acting job translate
directly to real life. Maybe just more intensified.
PETER – Can you explain in more detail about directors giving
you “result direction.”
TRILBY – A director can really make your performance. A thing
I really hate having happen is a director who tells you to act
a result he’d like to have i.e. act mad, be angry, be happy,
be funny, be more intense, be more like Sandra Bullock in
Crash! No one wants direction like that…. Tell us why, tell
us a verb, a goal, a motivation but don’t tell us to be a
certain way… And, don’t give us a line reading. Share your
passion for the character. Be a good director and figure out a
route for you to get us to reach a truthful result that might
be in your imagination.
PETER – Paul Newman once said that the best note he ever got
from a director about a scene, was, “Crowd the guy.” Do you
have any examples of some good direction you have received?
TRILBY – I had a young director recently, give me a beautiful
adjustment to what I was doing. He simply told me my
character’s father used to always tell me what I was doing
wrong in my life. Always judging. He told me to bring that to
the scene. Well… when the other character, male, started
telling me how much he would listen to me, and be there for
me, and never judge me, I was naturally moved. The scene came
alive for me. It was fantastic. It felt effortless.
Also, sometimes a direction can be simply “bring up the pace”.
I don’t mind this, as it doesn’t change any intentions, just
makes it more active. I have a tendency to slow down, and that
direction always helps me!! (after we have our intentions
clear, don’t get me wrong)
PETER – Actors tend to get a bad rap sometimes from directors
and other crew. Any comment?
TRILBY – When I hear that a director, or anyone for that
matter, actually likes actors and what they do, I feel so much
better. There are so many people who don’t like performers.
Sure there are performers who give actors a bad rap but I
think if you go into any of the professions there are those
who give bad raps to every vocation! I think anyone who wants
to direct, or already does, should do some acting and then you
will understand more why your actor is asking for motivation.
Why they don’t want to sit when you want.
PETER – I know many actors who have said that to survive in
this business they have to be “director proof!” Do you agree?
TRILBY – Yes, I wholeheartedly agree. Ask any actor, and most
will share frustrating director stories. It means you have to
be prepared to direct yourself if the director is too busy
worrying about everything else and leaving the work with the
actor until there’s very little time left. There are all kinds
of directors and I’ve had experience from a director taking a
nap during a rehearsal period (theatre) because he was of the
mind that all we needed was an audience, to a director giving
you line readings. I hate that!!
On film sets a lot of time the actor doesn’t get much time, if
any, with the director, especially if you have a small role –
and, especially if it’s at the end of the day. I always
visualize my performance in my head so I can direct myself
should I not get the help I needed or desired. Then if you
get a jewel from a director, it’s a bonus!
PETER – What tips do you have for directors who are unsure of
how to talk to an actor – or don’t know the proper thing to
TRILBY – Some directors just don’t know how to talk with
actors as well. People are mystified by the acting job,
because, well, it is mysterious sometimes! I still say if a
director has acted he will be so much more compassionate to
the actors questions about motivation. (Peter, you have a good
workshop for directors for this understanding!) Also, be
honest. If you are unsure of a character, ask the actor
questions, and work it out together. The actor just wants to
be the best he can for you. If the director has a personal
story, or connection to something, tell it.
PETER – What tips can you give directors to help actors when
it comes to the casting session?
TRILBY – Always ask the actor to read the scene twice! See
whether they can take direction and how big their range is. As
an actor it feels better if I can do something twice, and
change it up. Even if I’m not good for this role I may
suddenly be good for another role that they haven’t cast, (re:
Episodic TV) or are going to cast in the future. I got called
for a role once because of an audition a year before. They
PETER – And that’s a good tip for actors. Casting directors
have your information and your tape. So, you may not be right
for the role you are reading right now, but you could be right
for something else late. You teach classes in “Buffoonery.”
What is that?
TRILBY – When I rehearse a scene I like to sometimes do
something I call “buffooning a scene.” A buffoon is an
intelligent clown who likes to make fun of someone. It is
based on commedia del arte. I developed a technique of
rehearsing a scene to an extreme place in order to free you up
and discover things. You can do it with anything. It’s a great
way to warm up for an audition. It’s very physical and
descends the text into the body and becomes less cerebral. So
I do that with any scene and even though it is not what you
will end up performing, you will discover all kinds of things.
Exploring! Finding out things is good. Gets you out of a
PETER – Any last inspirational thoughts for directors.
TRILBY – Don’t be afraid of us! Ask us questions. Let us help
you. A director who really observes his actors will start to
know very quickly what kind of direction to give… what kinds
of words, goals, will inspire the performance.
Compassion is the key here. And respect. I respond much better
if I feel respected. What a great feeling. And, isn’t that
what we all want in real life? Dish it out and you might get
it back. The classy people will. The others, well hopefully
they will learn from you.
If you want to contact Trilby Jeeves, you can email her at
email@example.com. You can also check out her
website at http://buffooneryworkshops.com and her blog at
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8. Filmmaking Links of Interest
1) The Decline of Indies on Netflix: Were They Amputated With
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2) Ten Do’s and Don’t About Programming A Niche Film Festival
3) Warner Bros. puts your face in Facebook web series
4) A Hollywood Cautionary Tale Starring Anna Paquin
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