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One Tool Every Actor Needs: Video Acting Lesson from Director, Martin Jago

Where you find working actors, you also find directors.  This video acting lesson takes you inside our TV/Film Acting advanced Scene Study class for insight into the actor’s relationship with the director.  For 3-2-1-‘s guest lecture series, 3-2-1- Master Instructor John Walcutt invites theater director Martin Jago to discuss actors’ relationships with directors varies in commercial, TV, film and theater and the one tool every actor needs to succeed.

The difference between a theater director and his actor and the relationship between a movie director, commercials director or TV director and his actor.  Totally different. 

When you’re with a theater director, he’s there with you every step of the way.  You’re building a performance week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4.  You try things out, it doesn’t work.  You try something else, it works.  You decide, that’s what we’re going to do.  By a process of concensis you decide that works, we’ll keep that, and you keep building and building your performance, and then you have the first night, and you’ll run.  And as an actor, you’re working from A to B.  You’re not shooting the last scene on the first day and the first scene on the last day.  So that’s what’s totally different about the experience, I think.

What happens with a commercials director, a television director or a movie director is so very different.  You go for the casting [audition]  Then you get your callback and you go, you dress, you wear exactly the same clothes, you wear exactly the same make-up, ladies.  Guys…  I don’t know if any of you…  I won’t go down that alley.

The point I’m trying to make is you go back for the callback.  Maybe you have another callback, a second callback.  You do exactly the same thing you did on the first casting because that’s why they liked you, that’s why they called you back.  They might ask you to do something different.  Usually they don’t really want to see anything different, they just want to see if you can take direction.  And that is it.  Usually, until the day of the shoot.  You turn up.  What relationship do you have with the director?

You know, the camera is a technical medium.  Which means that the director is absorbed by lots of other things.  The lighting, you know, the set, the props.  Everything else, all those other technical things.  How much time does the director actually spend with you the actor on the set?  Really, very little time.  

So, you’ve got to really have the confidence to have what you have down, absolutely, a hundred percent, in the driving seat.  And that just takes practice, I think.

Regular practice in acting classes is the best way to develop that skill and the confidence to make strong acting choices that will get you noticed and keep you working.  Directors tasked with coordinating the many choices of all the actors (and every other element of a production) into something that makes sense are eager to find an actor with a toolbox well stocked with strong, confident choices.  So get to an acting class and load your actor’s toolbox with the one tool every actor needs to be successful!

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