The Director’s Chair Issue #163 – May 5, 2015 (Understanding Human Behavior (Part 2)
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2. Bonuses for Subscribing to The Director’s Chair
3. Creating Phone Apps for Directors
4. FEATURE ARTICLE: Understanding Human Behavior (Part 2)
5. Film Directing Coach Services
6. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
7. Filmmaking Links of Interest
8. Product Promotion and Film Workshops
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10. Copyright Information
Welcome to Issue #163 of The Director’s Chair, May 5, 2015
1. The Feature Article this month is called: Understanding Human
Behavior (Part 2).
What makes us different: our environment? The environments we
live, work and play in constantly affect and shape us throughout
our lives. We act, and react, completely differently in some
environments than we do in others because we tend to adjust our
behavior to different situations. (Read the rest of this article
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3. Creating Phone Apps for Directors
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4. Feature Article: Understanding Human Behavior (Part 2)
Understanding Human Behavior (Part 2) by Peter D. Marshall
In the last issue, I talked about how all directors must have at
least one thing in common: to be “witnesses” and “observers” of
universal human behavior.
As a storyteller, this means you must observe people going about
their daily lives to find out what motivates people to take
In other words, you need to make it a priority in your life to
discover what makes us tick – and find out why do we do things.
The good thing about human behavior is that it is observable, and
as storytellers, we must first observe the way people react to
different situations and circumstances in order to understand
“how and why” their behavior changes.
So it is your job, as writers and directors, to continuously dig
deeper into this act of observation so you can tell your version
of the human condition.
In this issue, I am going to continue with Part 2 of
Understanding Human Behavior.
(7) What makes us different: our environment (where we live &
The environments we live, work and play in constantly affect and
shape us throughout our lives.
We act, and react, completely differently in some environments
than we do in others because we tend to adjust our behavior to
Our behavior is also based on our society’s (and culture’s) image
of how we are supposed to act in a particular environment.
To survive in a particular environment, we must adapt our
behavior to our surrounding’s which, in some cases, can only
allow certain kinds of actions.
Example: if we are in a church or in a prison, how we act is
based on that particular environment.
Different environments also affect us because they motivate us to
act in certain ways by encouraging us to do things we normally
Example: going to a sports game where we can dress up, yell and
do crazy things we would never do at home or at work.
Everyone is also surrounded by a little “bubble of personal
space” and we only allow people inside this space if we know them
And different cultures have different ideas of how big that
We automatically seem to use distance as a type of non-verbal
communication, which tells us about our relationship with other
Even when people are very close to each other, the amount of
contact they have with the other person depends on the culture
they live in – or grew up in.
Example: people stand closer to each other in Middle Eastern
cultures and further apart in North American culture.
Environments can affect us psychologically as well. We can
experience a space that is calm and soothing – or one that makes
us tense or anxious.
For many people, crowds are very stressful as they are unable to
maintain their usual personal space and this causes a source of
Conventional distances are different from one culture to another.
When we meet people, we generally respond differently to
strangers than to people we are familiar with.
Example: We stand further away talking to a stranger than to a
Privacy also means different things to different people.
For some people, privacy means being entirely alone. For others,
it could mean being with family/friends or just walking the dog.
And we tend to protect our personal space at home a well.
We typically have many places in the house that are public, but
will designate our office, bedroom or garage as our personal,
(8) Non-Verbal Communication and Body Language
We attach far more importance to body language and tones of voice
than we do to the actual words that people use when they are
speaking to us.
In other words, we influence other people not only by what we
say, but how we say it and the context in which our words are
We use non-verbal communication automatically with other people
without even thinking about it. We do this through facial
expressions, the way we stand, sit or move.
Facial expressions, posture, gestures and tone of voice are all
important indicators of our attitudes and feelings.
So it is important for us to be able to understand these feelings
so we can get some idea of how we should respond to them.
Example: If your boss comes to see you, that means one thing. But
if he/she asks you to come to their office, that means something
else. (Who has the power and control in this situation?)
People often convey a lot of extra information in the actual
words they choose as well as they way they say them.
So it helps to listen to the pattern of words which people use to
find out what they are really saying – or not saying (Example:
As a general rule, most people tend to believe non-verbal
communication (subtext) more than they believe the words (text)
that are actually said.
Eye contact is one of the most powerful communication signals of
all. So if we look at someone who is speaking to us that means
they have our undivided attention.
Looking directly into someone’s eyes is something we don’t take
lightly and we tend look away from people if we don’t want
contact or if we don’t want to disturb them.
(9) Self-Esteem and Self-Image
Self-Esteem reflects a person’s overall emotional evaluation of
his or her own worth. (The respect or favorable image of
Self-Image is the idea, conception, or mental image one has of
oneself. (What we have learned about ourselves.)
Healthy self-esteem is our ability to accept who we are. This
means accepting our strengths and weaknesses – but also
recognizing that we are still worthy.
Each of us has our own idea about what we are like, how we think
and what we are good/bad at doing.
It’s a basic human need to look for sources of positive
self-esteem by belonging to different social groups that
influence our sense of identity.
Here are two psychological needs which have to be satisfied in
order to have good self-esteem:
– The need for positive consideration from other people (love,
– The need for exploring and developing our own abilities
(talents, ideas, interests.)
Our level of self-esteem depends on the type of personal
relationships we have, both in the past and in the present.
Fortunately, most people have always had a reasonably high level
of self-esteem. But problems arise when our need for positive
consideration (approval from others) is in direct conflict with
our own abilities.
People with low self-esteem have unrealistic conditions of worth
– they see themselves as failures or as inferior to other people.
Example: They did not pursue their own ambitions or interests
because they thought that other people would not approve.
People with poor self-esteem are usually looking for positive
experiences to compensate for their negative thoughts and
feelings – even if these feelings are temporary.
(10) In Conclusion
How people develop is influenced by many factors, including their
society, culture, family and social class.
But social influence is a two-way process because people can
influence one another – or be influenced by others.
And because we are active participants in our own lives, most of
us have the ability and opportunity to make our own choices and
As storytellers, our goal is to tell “compelling stories with
believable characters” so we must continuously strive to
understand human emotions and feelings.
We must understand why different environments affect us and cause
us to act in certain ways.
We must understand the importance of body language, facial
expressions and tone of voice.
We must find out what makes us “tick” and discover what motivates
us to do certain things.
Once you know what motivates a person to achieve their daily
needs, you will have the knowledge to better understand the story
you are telling, and you will feel more confident guiding your
actors to believable performances.
We must all practice the art of observing human behavior
everyday, because as artists, storytellers and filmmakers, we are
all in the “observation business.”
5. Film Directing Coach – Peter D. Marshall
Actors, Singers and Athletes Have Private Coaches. So Why Not
Film and TV Directors? http://actioncutprint.com/filmdirectingcoach/
Hilary Swank used an acting coach to prepare for her role in Boys
Don’t Cry. She won her first Academy Award.
Singer Renee Fleming has always used a vocal coach. She has won
several Grammy Awards.
Rafael Nadal’s coach urged him on from the sidelines during his
Wimbledon tennis tournament win in 2010.
Arnold Palmer improved his game with the help of a coach. Even
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As a matter of fact, winners in nearly every profession
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qualified coach, they would constantly struggle to achieve
So if these top professionals in their respective fields use
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7. Filmmaking Links of Interest
1. Christopher Nolan: I can’t make Memento today
2. The Filmmaking Craft of David Fincher Demystified in Two
Video Essays bit.ly/1Fm0ne3
3. DIY or DIE: 10 No Budget Filmmaking Musts
4. 10 Important Filmmaking Duos Working In Horror Today
5. How to Keep the Audience on the Edge of Their Seat
8. Product Promotion And Film Workshops
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