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The Director’s Chair Issue #87 – June 16, 2008 (It’s Not a Song Without the Music)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

June 16, 2008                  Scene 9 – 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. “Directing Actors Workshop” in Singapore
3. The Trinity of Directing
4. A to Z Guide to FilmTerms
5. Wannabe Studios
6. Film Directing Tips and Resources Blog
7. FEATURE ARTICLE – It’s Not a Song Without the Music
8. Write an Article for The Director’s Chair
9. Filmmaking News, Websites, Articles and Events
10. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
11. Subscriber Links of Interest
12. Learn How to Direct Music Videos
13. The Director’s Chair Filmmakers Discussion Forum
14. Filmmaking Workshops
15. Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
16. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
17. Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #87 of The Director’s Chair (June 16/08)


Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas,
Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Botswana, Brazil, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, China,
Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican
Republic, 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, Kuwait, Lebanon,
Liberia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico,
Monaco, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand,
Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal,
Puerto Rico, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia,
Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri
Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tanzania,
Thailand, Trinidad and Tabago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda,
United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States,
Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe

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

2) SPECIAL FEATURE ARTICLE – This month’s Feature Article is
about actors called ‘It’s Not a Song Without the Music’
by Anthony Abeson. “Can you imagine going to a concert and
having the band only recite the lyrics of the songs while
playing none of the music? Wouldn’t you feel ripped off?
You’d demand your money back, and rightly so, because
without the music it wasn’t a concert, it was only a lot of
talk. Far-fetched as this example is, it’s analogous to what
I’m encountering more and more, both directly and
anecdotally, in my work with actors.” (see below to read
entire article…)

3) 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:

From time to time I will contact you by email to inform you
of certain filmmaking workshops or film products 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

5) SHARE THIS EZINE – Share this Ezine by email and forward
it to your friends and associates.

6) SUGGESTIONS & COMMENTS – Send any comments, suggestions,
questions or advice to: mailto:comments@actioncutprint.com

7) REPRINT THIS EZINE – This Ezine may be reprinted with
permission. Email me at: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com



Peter D. Marshall

2. “Directing Actors Workshop” in Singapore

On June 4, I sent you an email to let you know that I am
giving a 3 day “Directing the Actor” workshop (with my
partner Trilby Jeeves) in Singapore on August 27, 28, 29.

This 3 day workshop concentrates on the filmmaker’s main
task: directing the actor, and was designed for filmmakers
who want to understand the acting process and learn the
techniques of how to get the best results from actors.

You can have a look at the course outline here:

At the present time, the sponsor for this event is still
putting together the advertising and the budget for this
workshop, so I have no other details for you as yet.

As soon as I get all the information from the sponsor
(price, location etc.) I will email you with the contact
information and the website link. As this is an intense
hands-on workshop, space will be limited to only 20

So if you are interested in coming to Singapore on August
27, 28, 29 for the 3 day “Directing the Actor” workshop with
Trilby Jeeves and myself, please email me at:

3. “The Trinity of Directing” – Eliel Otote

My name is Eliel Otote, the director of studies at one of
Nollywood’s training facilities in Nigeria. I would like to
share this short article with fellow directors, filmmakers,
and indeed, ardent visitors of this great site of knowledge.

The Directorial Trinity (or Trinity of Directing) is my term
for the following three duties and functions of a director:

– the administrative
– the psychological/psycho-analytical
– the artistic/technical

1. Administrative: in our way of shooting movies in
Nollywood, Nigeria, the director as an administrator should
have managerial attributes which help in coordinating the
various departments involved in the movie-making process.

2. Psychological/Psycho-Analytical: the director should
apply psychology in relating with cast and crew by
identifying possible personal problems that may threaten
their performances. Secondly, analyzing the various
characters’ profiles for the actors. (In some cases, this
calls for a higher knowledge of Psycho-Analysis.)

3. Artistic/Technical: the artistic and technical soundness
of the director manifests in the overall picture that exists
in his head, which eventually comes out as the pictorial
rewrite of the initial script after successfully
coordinating all of the relevant elements of a production.

So in a nut shell, the director should know something about
all these aspects of production – and everything about

Eliel Otote

4. “A to Z Guide to FilmTerms”

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in the movie
industry? Do you watch the credits for a film and wonder
what a grip or a gaffer is or what they do? Do you want to
learn the behind-the-scenes lingo used by the cast and crew?

“A to Z Guide to FilmTerms” is a book written by a friend of
mine, Tim Moshansky. This book is your “backstage pass” to
get on the set with a working knowledge of the terms and
phrases used by directors, actors, producers and the crew.

“A to Z Guide to FilmTerms” is more than just a dictionary –
it has numerous real life examples, written from a true
insider’s perspective. So far, over 16,000 copies have been
sold to film crews, movie lovers and film students!

“A to Z Guide to FilmTerms” is the perfect gift for the
movie buff or budding filmmaker in your life! So, to find
out the definitions to over 750 other “filmspeak” words and
phrases, and how they are used by filmmakers, check out:

5. Wannabe Studios

Is films your thing? Then do something about it. Wannabe
Studios is the place for independent filmmakers and film
lovers to hang around.

I have been a member of this film networking group since
January 2008. Wannabe Studios was started by Shyam Madhavan
Sarada who is also a subscriber to The Director’s Chair.

So come and join me and other filmmakers from around the
world. Share Ideas. Write. Produce. Direct. Act. Edit.
Score. Exhibit. Talk. View. Review. Rate. Encourage.
Critique. Wannabe Studios – http://wannabestudios.ning.com

6. BLOG – Film Directing Tips and Resources Blog

Take a look at my Film Directing Blog and post some
filmmaking tips or add some resources. And please, make some
comments on the posts – your feedback is important to me
because they will help me decide on the content I will add
to this blog.

Blog – http://filmdirectingtips.com
RSS – http://filmdirectingtips.com/wp-rss.php

Here are some of the latest blog entries I have made:

– The Main Purpose of Script Analysis for a Director
– Here are the Five Sources of Conflict in any Drama
– The Basis of all Drama is Conflict!
– Are you an Actor? Here’s Why You Must Take Acting Workshops
– Script – The Classic Three Act Structure

7. FEATURE ARTICLE – It’s Not a Song Without the Music

“It’s Not a Song Without the Music” by Anthony Abeson.

Can you imagine going to a concert and having the band only
recite the lyrics of the songs while playing none of the
music? Wouldn’t you feel ripped off? You’d demand your money
back, and rightly so, because without the music it wasn’t a
concert, it was only a lot of talk. Far-fetched as this
example is, it’s analogous to what I’m encountering more and
more, both directly and anecdotally, in my work with
actors. Rewrite that first sentence to read: “Can you imagine
watching a play/film/TV show and having the actors only
recite the lines of their parts while playing with none of
the life?” and the parallel is exact (except for the “demand
your money back” part, since audiences seem more and more
willing to accept lifeless recitation as a substitute for
acting as long as the actors are hot.)

Allow me to share some examples that have led me to this
inflammatory conclusion. A short while ago a student of mine
went on an audition and was given a monologue to prepare.
After he did it the first time, he was given this direction:
“Now I want you to do it again, but this time create a
situation. I don’t care what the situation is. Just create
one. You can do whatever you want.” My student, I’m happy to
say, did exactly that, after which the director said: “Wow.
I don’t know if I should tell you this, but I’m gonna tell
you anyway,” and he went on to say that he had seen close to
a hundred people and had given them all the same monologue
and same direction, and that every single one of them did
the monologue in basically the same way with only a change
of accent or inflection.

This is an example of how crippled we’re becoming by our
slavery to the words, and how the industry really sits up
and takes notice when you bring something to the table
that’s not just more or different talk. And it is shocking
to me how we are treating our work as literary, when it’s
meant to be living. Our actors’ birthright, which is encoded
in our DNA, is the tendency to create life, not words; even
when we were kids, what we played we made exciting not by
our talk but by our actions. How’d it come to this?

More examples. Again and again I have seen improvs, which
are meant to discover the life of the scene, reduced to
exercises in clever remarks while nothing is lived or
experienced. My student E went to an audition where the
actors were divided into groups of 4 and given the situation
that they were on a doomed plane. Immediately the other
three began screaming – not doing anything, just yelling and
screaming. E took out her cell phone and called her mother,
to say goodbye. Who do you think got the callback?

This tendency to let talk take the place of action, of
doing, is apparent in many of the actors who audition for me
and something we struggle with in my classes. It’s deeply
ingrained, producing a kind of “from the neck up” acting
which can’t engage us totally because the actor is divided.
It was for this reason Stanislavski coined the term “the
muscles of the tongue” – the words, whether on the page or
in the memory exert a pressure on the actor to “Say me! Say
me!” He likened it to the pressure to put the needle down on
a spinning record. We can trace the roots of this problem
back through Meyerhold, who reminded us that “the words are
woven on the fabric of the action,” and Artaud, who urged us
“to break through language in order to touch life,” all the
way to Shakespeare, who wisely cautioned us to “Suit the
action to the word and the word to the action.” Clearly this
has been with us for a long while, and yet, from my
perspective, it’s growing worse, to the point where we don’t
even notice when our lines take a wild jump to something
apparently random; we just keep on babbling.

For example, in one scene two people are flirting, during
war time, and after the man sketches the wonderful date
they’ll have after the war, including “making love in the
soft, New Orleans night air,” she replies: “All on our first
date, huh?” He says “And it won’t be the last.” And then,
seemingly out of nowhere, she says: “Do you really think
we’ll live to see it?” She goes, in one line, from
flirtation to the fear of death, and yet so many actresses,
carried along in a rush of words by the muscles of the
tongue, don’t even notice that huge shift, and just keep
flirting when clearly the “music” of the scene has changed.
(He then reminds her that the Lieutenant said “everybody
gets out alive” to which she replies “Would you hold me,

In real life we are constantly aware of non-sequiturs,
instantly reacting with phrases whose familiarity attests to
the frequency of this phenomenon, like “Where did that come
from?” and “That was random.” But as Stanislavski said:
“Real life crumbles on the stage.” Clearly a choice has to
be made by the actress that will shift her that suddenly;
she could experience something that brings her back to the
reality of the war they’re in. But first she’d have to stop
those muscles of the tongue, and notice the shift that’s
required. In a new twist on “Can’t get a word in edgewise,”
we now have actors who can’t get a choice in edgewise
between the words. This deprives the scene of a change in
mood, and the actress of the opportunity to reflect another
characteristic they’re looking for.

How has it come to pass that we now have many actors who are
intently focused on how they look, clear about what they’re
saying, and clueless about what they’re doing? While I’m
sure many factors have contributed to this, my suspicion
falls most heavily on the role of technology. Not so long
ago there were many forms of entertainment that required the
active participation of the audience’s imagination, for
example reading and radio dramas. Now they’re losing ground
to film and television where nothing is left to the
imagination and all the sex and gore is vividly thrust at us
in high def and Dolby.  As a result, people’s imaginations,
that used to actively augment the words with images, have
atrophied, rendering their relation to material passive.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the toll it has taken
on actors. Where once they would picture the life embedded
in a line, now they’re content to memorize and recite it.

In addition, we’re increasingly dependent on our ability to
read screens, not eyes (“the windows to the soul”) or voices
(“the organ of the soul” according to Longfellow.) This
results in an antiseptic form of communication whose
soullessness is revealed in the terms used to describe it:
“texting,” “IM-ing,” “e-mailing,” and so on. And this, in
turn, has resulted in a generation of actors who are more
attuned to reading screens than reacting to humans.

What to do? Let’s take inspiration from the professional
athletes who hold thousands riveted without uttering a word,
through the sheer excitement of their actions which, we’re
told, “speak louder than words.” What if we adopted a
different way of looking at text: sight-reading like
musicians who see black and white notes on the page and hear
music? Why not have actors see black and white words on the
page and picture behavior, actions, life? Somehow we must
cut the loop of “in through the eyes, out through the mouth”
that served us well “reading aloud” in third grade, but
which now prevents us from making the invisible visible.

Let’s remember to ask ourselves “What do I want and what am
I doing with these lines to get it?” And then we have to go
ahead and do it, even if we have to stay in the chair, the
frame, or on the mark. If your answer’s purely verbal
(“I’m saying this” or  “telling him that”) your work is
going to have that “blah blah blah” 2-dimensional, talking-
head quality that doesn’t pop, no matter how hot you are,
because talk is, indeed, cheap.  Just as you can’t get blood
from a stone, you can’t squeeze life from a line. Lift up
the stone and behold the life teeming just beneath the

Isn’t it “Lights. Camera. Action?”

St. James said it best. “Beloved, be doers of the word.”

Anthony Abeson, who has conducted group acting classes and
private coaching for actors for over 25 years, was a
breakthrough coach to such now famous actors as Jennifer
Aniston, Esai Morales (NYPD Blue and Jericho), Ellen Pompeo
(Grey’s Anatomy), Ian Somerhalder (Lost), Lisa Vidal
(Numb3rs), Cedric Sanders (The Ten) and many others.  Mr.
Abeson, who teaches in Manhattan, studied with all the
greats, including Peter Brook at the Centre International du
Recherche Theatrale, Paris; Jerzy Grotowski at the Instytut
Aktora, Wroclaw and Brzezinka, Poland and the Centre
Dramatique National du Sud-Est, Aix-en-Provence, France; Lee
Strasberg and Harold Clurman as a member of the Directors
Unit of the Actors Studio and Stella Adler at the Stella
Adler Conservatory, New York.

Mr. Abeson’s website is at:
E-mail:  mailto:aabeson@ptd.net

8. 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:

9. Filmmaking News, Websites, Articles and Events

1) Schweitzer Lakedance International Film Festival
SLIFF 2008 – Our call for entries deadline is approaching
fast – June 30th – but there is still time to get your entry
in, and still programming to fill! We’re looking for good
storytelling and high quality performances from fictional
films, and captivating but slightly unconventional
non-fiction, as well as expressive experimental films, and
innovative music videos. Visit lakedance.com for the
official 2008 entry form.

2) WILDsound Monthly Screenplay Festival Screenplay
Submissions and Competitions – 0ffers screenwriters at all
levels the fantastic opportunity to hear their scripts read
aloud using TOP PROFESSIONAL ACTORS in front of a sold out
crowd of their peers.

5, 2008 – The call for submissions is now open for the 2008
Big Bang Film Festival (BBFF).  BBFF is a celebration of
exciting and inventive films in the Action, Adventure,
Suspense and Asian Action Cinema genres.

4) The Detroit Windsor International Film Festival: Shining
the light on Detroit’s and Windsor’s Creative and Production
Communities! http://www.dwiff.org

5) Are you the next Hitchcock, Romero, or Lucas? – FIND OUT!
Submit your Films & Screenplays to The Terror Film Festival


Each month, I give two subscribers an opportunity to promote
themselves, their company or their productions in this
section. If you are interested, send your “shameless
self-promotion” to: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com.

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

Oops! No one sent me any shameless self-promotions this
month! Will you send me something for the next issue?


“Subscriber Links of Interest” is where you can further
promote yourself, your company or your productions by having
your information displayed on a special links page at:

If you are a subscriber to this ezine and you want me to put
your self-promotion on this page, just send an email to:

Again, I also reserve the right to edit the promotion for
length and formatting.

12. Learn How to Make a Living Directing Music Videos

Jamal “Jag” Johnson, whose work has been seen on MTV, MTV2
and BET, has a series of DVD’s that shows you how to make
money shooting music videos for indie and major music
artists.  It’s called the “Music Video Development Training
System” featuring Skillz.

I don’t endorse many products, but after reviewing Jamal’s
product (I was very impressed with the valuable content and
the production quality) I thought you might be interested in
his offer.

The “Music Video Development Training System” is designed
with the beginner and expert in mind. It doesn’t matter if
you’ve never touched a camera in your life or if you’re
already in the music video industry full time! And the best
part is, the same techniques you’ll discover in Jamal’s
training system will work for any genre of music.

So if you’ve EVER thought about making money shooting music
videos or want to improve your own techniques, I highly
recommend this training system.

For more information on my step-by-step guide to launching a
successful music video production business, please visit

13. The Director’s Chair Filmmakers Discussion Forum

The Director’s Chair Filmmakers Discussion Forum.

Ask film directing questions, submit your website for
review, post film and television directing links, share film
making tips and special events or just keep in touch with
other filmmakers from “The Director’s Chair.”

This forum is for subscribers of “The Director’s Chair”
only, so you will have to register in order to post
questions, give answers or add links. All you can do without
registering is read the posts.

Please visit this new forum now, sign up and take a look
around. http://www.actioncutprint.com/smf/index.php

14. FILMMAKING WORKSHOPS – Peter D. Marshall

I have worked in the Film and Television Industry for over
34 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.


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Peter D. Marshall
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