“DIRECTOR PROOF”

gladiators fightingI’ve been communicating over the past few days via Facebook about the uneasy and often dysfunctional relationship between actors and directors in the film business. And I have been receiving some great comments and stories from both actors and directors. But one comment that has come up several times is very disturbing. Several actors have told me that they have been learning, in their acting classes and workshops, how to be “director proof”. I must admit, this is the first time I have ever heard of this. And I am horrified. ‘Director proof’ implies that we, the directors, are the problem. That we are somehow going to diminish or destroy the work of the actors. And, more seriously, it implies that there really is no such thing as an actor-director collaboration. Only confrontation and conflict. I have spent the better part of my creative life exploring old and new ways of working with actors, knowing that in order to be an effective director I must develop and perhaps master certain techniques whereby I can collaborate with my actors as they work to bring their characters to life. And now I am hearing that many actors are actually trained on how to work in order to avoid whatever I might be bringing to the table.

I’m planning on writing a longer article on this topic, very soon. But first I want to reach out to all my actor, director, teacher, coach and writer colleagues (that’s you!) and get their opinions, experiences and insights on this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.

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2 Responses to “DIRECTOR PROOF”

  1. chrisgthom says:

    Hi,
    Yes that phrase is being bandied about over here in the UK too. I guess what they are trying to provide is a means of being ‘bad’ director proof. By that I hope they mean non-communicative or purely result driven directors who have no real understanding of what a powerful and maleable resource they have in their cast.

    It should definitely not be about proofing the actor against such individuals but helping them learn how to get what the need from their directors rather than blocking them right out of their process. Also it does seem to imply that ALL directors are to be looked at in the same light.

    I am tempted to go undercover and attending one of these workshops, see exactly what is going on and why they think its necessary to put such a dangerous and potentially harmful phrase n an actors head.

    I know we are both in accord here, the onus should be on the director to provide a wholesome and welcoming working relationship for the actor to engage in. I think that any intelligent and experienced actor can quickly sense what kind of director they are dealing and then put up or drop the barriers as the working relationship progresses.

    That’s why we do what we do I guess.

    If you get to be London way on your great tour, let me know, it would be good to see you again. Maybe plot some plots.

    Chris Thomas

    • markwtravis says:

      Chris, great to hear from you. I’m just now getting used to all this social media stuff (FB, Twitter and even my blogs and websites) so I am not accustomed to these new response streams. Yes, you and I are on the same page. And this ‘director proof’ attitude is very disturbing. So, I am on a bit of a quest to see if I can slip into the enemy’s camp and get a taste of the poison. Sounds like you had the same idea. Let me know if you find out anything. Meanwhile I have been talking to a lot of actors about it (they are a great source of information) and they are helping me and opening some doors (doors to the worlds of danger and also the worlds of open, healthy teachers). Really sorry that my round the world trip is not taking me to the UK. Would love to see you and many of my old friends in London. Maybe some opportunities will emerge in 2014. Meanwhile, stay in touch and keep up the good work. Cheers, Mark.

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