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The Director's Chair Issue #26 – June 28, 2002 (Working with Actors – Parts 1 & 2)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

June 28, 2002          Scene 3 – Take 6

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Web Site: http://www.actioncutprint.com


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1.  Introduction
2.  Film Making Workshops with Peter D. Marshall
3.  The Busy Person’s Guide to Directing
4.  FREE Bonus for Subscribers
5.  Action-Cut-Print!
6.  Feature Articles – “Working with Actors”
7.  Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
8.  Share This Ezine
9.  Suggestions & Comments
10. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
11. Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #26 of The Director’s Chair (June 28, 2002).

1) This is a shortened version of The Director’s Chair.

I am presently working on a feature film for New Line Cinema and
I have been so busy this past month I’ve had no time to prepare
this issue.

I have included two previous feature articles called “Working
with Actors:”

a. Part 1 (Personality Traits)
b. Part 2 (The Casting Session)

2) I have been contracted to do 4 Film workshops in Orlando,
Florida between August 12 and August 23, 2002. (See below for
more info)

3) VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – 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:



Peter D. Marshall

2. Film Making Workshops with Peter D. Marshall


Film Making Workshops with Peter D. Marshall
Orlando, Florida August 12 – August 23, 2002

I have worked in the Film and Television Industry for over 30
years – as a Film Director, Television Producer, First Assistant
Director, Series Creative Consultant and Documentary Filmmaker.

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.

Between August 12 and August 23, 2002, I will be presenting four
film workshops at Creative Stages in Orlando, Florida. To find
more information about these workshops and to learn how to
register online, just click on the links below.

The Workshops in Orlando, Florida

1) “The Art of the Film Director”
August 12 – August 14, 2002

Three day workshop for Filmmakers. Discusses Film and Television
Directing tips and techniques and answers the question, “What is
a Director?”

2) “Directing the Actor”
August 15 – August 17, 2002

Three day hands-on workshop for Directors. Concentrates on the
Film and Television Director’s main task: Directing the Actor!

3) “Designing the Film Shooting Schedule”
August 19 – August 20, 2002

Two day workshop for Producers, Production Managers, Assistant
Directors, Location Managers and Production Co-ordinators.
Focuses on the accurate preparation of the Shooting Schedule for
Television and Feature Film Productions.

4) “Acting for the Camera – A Survival Guide”
August 21 – August 23, 2002

Three day workshop for Actors. Designed to give Actors an
opportunity to learn “Film Acting Survival Tips” and help them
become successful working film Actors.

If you can’t make it to Orlando in August, but you are interested
in these workshops for yourself or your organization, please
contact me to discuss how we can bring these workshops to you.

Peter D. Marshall
(416) 280-6043


the best Film and Television Directing Websites and keep you
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Each issue will include more filmmaking Websites, links to film
and TV directing articles, and a weekly Film Directing Tip.


If you are a subscriber to The Director’s Chair, you are entitled
to get the first 3 chapters FREE to the eBook, �”Screenplay
Secrets – How to Create and Sell Compelling Characters in the New

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5. ACTION-CUT-PRINT! –  A Website for Filmmakers

If you are a Film or TV Director; a working professional who
wants to Direct; a film student who wants to learn more about
Directing; or a “student of film” who just wants to know more
about Filmmaking from the pros, Action-Cut-Print! is for you!

Take a moment now to visit http://www.actioncutprint.com where
you will find over 1200 Online Resources for Filmmakers, a Film
and TV Bookstore and Film Directing Workshops.

6. FEATURE ARTICLES – “Working with Actors”

“Working with Actors: Part 1 (Personality Traits)”

(C) 2000, Peter D. Marshall

The first time a director works with an actor is usually during the
casting session. I will talk more about the actual casting process
next issue, but today I want to discuss what you need to know before
you enter the casting room.

One of the first things I do before a casting session is to make a
note of each character’s personality traits – the inner patterns and
workings of their psyche.

Because all individuals have personality traits, knowing what type of
person you are dealing with is an important first step to understanding
the inner world of a character – and the actor!

(NOTE: I have gathered the following information from several different
sources during the past ten years – and unfortunately, I no longer
remember who wrote the original material.)

There are four main functions of the psyche and each approaches reality
from a different point of view and with a different question – each
holds onto a different part of reality.

The four functions of the psyche are:
1) Intuition
2) Thinking
3) Feeling
4) Sensation

Each of these four functions can operate in two areas:
1) Extrovert – energy flowing towards the outer world
2) Introvert – energy flowing towards the inner world

And each function has a further possibility of operating in either:
1) a positive, Conscious way (Stable)
2) a negative, Unconscious way (Unstable)

All psychological evidence so far suggests that these two major factors,
Extrovert/Introvert and Conscious/Unconscious, are interwoven in each
individual according to a pattern – a pattern that can be graphed out.

Okay! Now what does all this mean in English!!!

It means you can create a chart that will clearly display the four
functions, and their personality traits, which you will then be able
to reference anytime.

To get a copy of this quick reference personality chart, go to
http://www.actioncutprint.com/chart.html and print out the page.

Once you have printed out the chart, you can then add the following
descriptions of the type of people that form each of the four functions:

1) The Intuitive Type – creative people whose chief concern is with
future possibilities; people who have a nose for the invisible; people
who can encompass a lot quickly.

2) The Thinking Type – a person whose ultimate value is order and
organization; everybody must say what they mean.

3) The Feeling Type – they have a proper evaluation of the Cosmos and
an appropriate relationship with it; they handle their feelings expertly;
they express their feelings by style; they know the value of beauty
and relationships; they need attention – love or anger.

4) The Sensation Type – they are a master of observing detail; they
absorb impressions deeply; they are sensitive to tastes, pain, noise,
and physical sensations.

This chart will give you a clear understanding of who your character
is and what their motivations are – as well as help you with the
actor’s interpretation of the character!

A good performance happens when both the inner and outer self are
portrayed. So when dealing with any character, remember these three
important words: Motive Determines Behavior!

Motive (inner-what a character thinks)
Behavior (outer-what the character does)


“Working with Actors: Part 2 (The Casting Session)”

(C) 2000, Peter D. Marshall

Last issue we discussed the importance of knowing a “character’s”
personality traits and how you can use a “character personality
chart” to help you.

(To get a copy of this quick reference personality chart, go to
http://www.actioncutprint.com/chart.html and print out the page.
This chart will give you a clear understanding of who a character
is and what their motivations are – as well as help you with the
actor’s interpretation of the character.)

In this issue, we will discuss the casting session and how to
quickly find out if an actor is right for a part.

But first, here is a quick guide on the casting process.

When a director first gets a script, you read it through several
times to get a feel for what the story is about and who the
characters are. (NOTE: In future articles, we will discuss the
Director’s script breakdown in more detail.)

As you read the script, you will get an impression of the
characters. You then have a meeting with the Producer(s) and the
Casting Director to share your ideas of the characters.

(NOTE: This is an important meeting for the Director, because it
is where you find out what the Producer(s) are thinking and if
you are on the right track. Remember: television is a Producers
medium and they have the final say in everything – including

After the meeting, the Casting Director goes away and puts
together a list of actors that fit the character traits and
specific looks discussed in the meeting with the Producer(s).

The Casting Director then has her own casting session where she
videos a “short list” of actors for you and the Producer(s) to
view.(Sometimes you will only cast from these tapes – other times
you will make a short list from the tapes and then to go to a
casting session.)

Okay – you have now arrived at the casting session. You walk in
with the Producer (usually late because you had to get a
Starbuck’s latte) and you meet the cameraman (who puts the actors
on tape) the reader (who reads the script with the actors) and
the Casting Director.

You then get a piece of paper listing all the auditioning actors
and the roles they are portraying – then the actors enter and do
their thing!

When the session is done, you have a headache, the Producer(s)
don’t agree with anyone you like, the casting Director is already
on the phone setting up another session, and there is a message
from the production office informing you that there is a complete
revision of the script waiting for you when you get back!


Okay, let’s back up a bit.

The Casting session (actors call it “the audition”) can be a
terrifying place for any actor. It takes a lot of guts to walk
into a small, windowless room and have about 5 minutes to “show
your stuff” in front of complete strangers – some of whom could
make or break your career!

But it is just as tough for the Director as well! How can you
decide, in less than 10 minutes, who is right for a particular
part? Because you never have enough time to work with the actors
in a casting session, here are three qualities you should look
for in an actor when they audition for you:

1)  do they look the part?
2)  do they have range?
3)  can they take direction?

Yes…I know there are many, many more, but these three can
usually give you a enough information about an actor – in under
10 minutes!

1) Do they look the part?

I call this the “50%” rule – 50% of any role is cast when an
actor enters the room! He(or she) doesn’t have to say anything –
they just LOOK like the character (they ARE the character) when
they come in!

This is especially true of a TV series. You don’t have a lot of
time to build a character in Television, so if an actor looks
like the character, that is the first step in making them
believable to a TV audience.

2) Do they have range?

This is basically saying, “Can they act?” and you need to find
this out quickly. Can an actor give you both ends of the
spectrum. Are they believable when they are in a tense, dramatic
scene? Are they believable in a comedy?

3) Can they take direction?

Any good actor will make a choice when they enter the casting
room. They will decide who this character is and give you their

Many times, this is not what you had in mind, BUT…they were
great! So, what you need to do is give them some “direction” –
ask them to read the part again but do something totally opposite
from what they just did. This gives you an idea if they have
range, and if they can take direction.

Some actors have a problem getting through the audition. They are
very good actors but they are nervous and tend to blow their
audition. And other actors will always “give a great reading” but
they end up a dud on the set.

Remember – casting sessions are not perfect. You will never be
able to fully tell if an actor has the qualities you are looking
for in just 10 minutes. But these three tricks will help you to
see if an actor has range, and if they can take direction – in
less than 10 minutes.

TIP: If you are seriously interested in an actor, ask for a
“call-back” where you can work with this person one-on-one for a
longer period of time. This will help you decide if the actor is
right for the role.

A good performance happens when both the inner and outer self are
portrayed. So when dealing with any actor, remember these three
important words: Motive Determines Behavior!

Motive (what a character thinks-inner)
Behavior (what the character does-outer)


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