I’ve started reading A Sense of Direction: Some Observations on the Art of Directing by William Ball and it’s given me some validation.
A director, I’ve felt, should be a leader and as a leader you need to be fearless and show no vulnerability. Otherwise the people you’re working with will lose faith. That concept seems silly even typing it. I’ve been beating myself up because I’ve been gentle instead of Ghengis Khan in flats every Wednesday and Saturday for the last three weeks. That’s not my personality (honestly) and Ball says that’s okay.
My intuition and how I have been working with the cast has been correct (not stellar by any means, but heading in the right direction). One thing I’m glad Ball points out is the use of praise. During my writing capstone show I would tell the actors what I really liked and what a good job I thought they were doing. One of my classmates told me I shouldn’t do that because it will make the actors arrogant. If they’re doing a good job somewhere I think they should be told. They experience plenty of rejection and negativity in acting, auditions, and life in general, a little praise is not going to hurt. Ball agrees and elaborates. Coppola never tells the actor what they did wrong. He tells them how they entered was good, let’s see more of that or how they got in the other person’s face, that was good, let’s see more of that. I need to praise more along these lines, but I have a good start.
I got as far as how to collaborate with your actors today, how to accept suggestions so everyone feels appreciated and, as a result, relaxes and performs better. The book has helped assure me. I know you can only learn so much directing “theory”. You learn by doing and keeping close to your personality and knowing who you are. I still might like to assistant direct again just to see how a more estabilished director goes about it. I learned a lot during my writing show which helped me tons. Because there are different styles, I think seeing how another director works would really help me.
Or I could just bull ahead and see what happens.