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3 Reasons Why Less Is More When Directing Talent

Noam Kroll

Amateur directors often overcompensate for their lack of experience by overdirecting their actors. Here are some ways to take a more subtle approach.

All images from IMDb

Directing talent is no easy task. Even for the most experienced directors out there, handling different personality types, performance disciplines, and other factors make communication very challenging. With that said though, more experienced directors tend to give far less direction than inexperienced directors for these three reasons:

Understanding the Chain Reaction

3 Reasons Why Less Is More When Directing Talent: Understand the Chain Reaction

Experienced directors understand that a single piece of direction will change many different characteristics of a performance. For instance, if a director were to tell their talent to act ‘more upset,’ the actor would likely change other physical attributes as well. They may walk slower, speak differently, slouch, etc. Amateur directors often micromanage the actor, whereas a more experienced director understands that, with the right singular piece of direction, everything else falls into place.

Keeping the Actor Focused

3 Reasons Why Less Is More When Directing Talent: Keep the Actor Focused

Performing for camera and in front of a large crew is challenging enough as it is, so it makes sense that too much direction can overwhelm an actor, causing them to lose focus. If a director were to feed an actor with 10 or 15 pieces of direction right before a scene, that actor will likely lose focus of the scene and become preoccupied with the technicalities of what the director is telling them. By keeping direction down to a few points or less, actors can remain focused and in the right headspace.

Avoiding Negative Connotations

3 Reasons Why Less Is More When Directing Talent: Avoid Negative Connotations

Some actors, especially those with less experience, can mistakenly take direction as a sign that they aren’t doing a good enough job. In reality, they’re probably doing just fine – but maybe aren’t performing in a way that’s most suitable to the script. As you might imagine, feeding what could be an already insecure actor a dozen directorial notes after a scene may come across negatively to them, and subsequently uproot their entire performance.

Always remember that the job of an actor is extremely difficult, and they’re still human. Encourage them to take risks and to change their performance in a positive way by giving clear and simple direction – and only when completely necessary.

Here are a few more tips for aspiring directors, courtesy of PremiumBeat:

Do you have any directing advice to share? We’d love to hear it in the comments below.