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Directing Actors

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Internationally-renowned directing coach Weston demonstrates what constitutes a good performance, what actors want from a director, what directors do wrong, script analysis and preparation, how actors work, and shares insights into the director/actor relationship.


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Internationally-renowned directing coach Weston demonstrates what constitutes a good performance, what actors want from a director, what directors do wrong, script analysis and preparation, how actors work, and shares insights into the director/actor relationship.

30 review for Directing Actors

  1. 5 out of 5

    Isabella Tugman - Audiobook Narrator

    This is MY FAVORITE book on not only directing, but acting as well. I think it is a MUST-READ for all directors and actors alike. No matter where you are in your career or training, whether you're in film school or acting school or in high school, in Hollywood or Bollywood, American or Armenian, you need to read this book if you are interested in pursuing acting and/or directing as a career or a hobby or as an art or beyond. I myself am an actor. I have been studying acting my entire life, taking This is MY FAVORITE book on not only directing, but acting as well. I think it is a MUST-READ for all directors and actors alike. No matter where you are in your career or training, whether you're in film school or acting school or in high school, in Hollywood or Bollywood, American or Armenian, you need to read this book if you are interested in pursuing acting and/or directing as a career or a hobby or as an art or beyond. I myself am an actor. I have been studying acting my entire life, taking various workshops and going through conservatories, film and acting schools, being in a million productions including theatrical plays, musicals, operas, commercials, short films, and feature films. I have read many books on acting in all its methods as well as other aspects of filmmaking. Something I love about this career is that it is a life-long journey filled with constant challenges and learning opportunities. But I wish I had read this book sooner, because it would have saved me a lot of time figuring things out. This one book has put together all of the most valuable information together on acting in one source, defined perfectly for directors to use (obviously directors need to understand what actors do, so as an actor, don't you think this might have some insight for you? Yes. It does). Every line I read felt like a shortcut from what took years of training for me to figure out, perfectly defined, right there. I found myself wanting to highlight so much that I gave up because I decided the whole book would end up yellow. There is so much insight into the actor's world that is imperative for every director to know. Actors are strange creatures...there really is an art to learning how to work with them and get their best performance out. And actors - this book helps us define and direct our own complicated selves and processes. Directors and actors use a lot of the same tools, so this will help everyone speak the same language! I have actually met Judith Weston, the author, on a couple occasions. She has a studio in Los Angeles where she holds directing and acting workshops and other special events. Judith is truly generous with her knowledge, and I felt very comfortable and welcomed in her presence. I have not taken any of her workshops yet, but I have heard great things and I am sold on taking one soon! But whether or not you have the pleasure of meeting Judith or the opportunity to take her workshops, you should definitely read and study this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lilli-Marie

    Honestly the best book there is about directing. My teacher recommended this book to us and i would too suggest every director and especially everyone who desire to become a director to read this (not bad for actors either). I really enjoyed reading Weston's book and learned a lot. Honestly the best book there is about directing. My teacher recommended this book to us and i would too suggest every director and especially everyone who desire to become a director to read this (not bad for actors either). I really enjoyed reading Weston's book and learned a lot.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jason Luna

    The book is best seen as a template. I believe the readership is best served by people who are building a career or at least engaged interest in film directing or film acting, who already come with that core knowledge of what comes with using a camera to make art. What I mean by that is is the reader brings a lot of their own energy to a book like this. If you don't see yourself dealing with this kind of stuff, it may come across as too imprecise and inarticulated. Weston writes in a pointed but c The book is best seen as a template. I believe the readership is best served by people who are building a career or at least engaged interest in film directing or film acting, who already come with that core knowledge of what comes with using a camera to make art. What I mean by that is is the reader brings a lot of their own energy to a book like this. If you don't see yourself dealing with this kind of stuff, it may come across as too imprecise and inarticulated. Weston writes in a pointed but conversational way, and it's like conversation to the point that she repeats her points a lot. But it works for a film director, or at least to me, because the problems are pointedly repeating themselves in real life. The inauthenticity of the performance on camera, the inability to communicate with the actor, these things keep coming up, because that's what's the director's dealing with on set. In a way, I feel like the book could've used some editing. Weston makes some very concise and salient points, but her attempts at colorful anecdotes or celebrity namedroppings sometimes elongate her point of view into boredom. But it's not an insufferable boredom either. And it's a commendable effort to get at something that feels very intangible, and this is what is "good" for a film actor, the organic recitation of canned lines.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Though the book is officially aimed at film directors, and their need to understand how to direct actors, there is far more in this book. It offers both directors and actors a great deal of help, looks at the various approaches to acting (including the Method and such) and offers many helpful suggestions and techniques for all kinds of situations that arise for actors, and between directors and actors. Having done a little directing and some acting as well, I really enjoyed this, and found it he Though the book is officially aimed at film directors, and their need to understand how to direct actors, there is far more in this book. It offers both directors and actors a great deal of help, looks at the various approaches to acting (including the Method and such) and offers many helpful suggestions and techniques for all kinds of situations that arise for actors, and between directors and actors. Having done a little directing and some acting as well, I really enjoyed this, and found it helpful in ways to think about any future work I do in these areas.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hesper

    As much a resource for actors as directors. Tbh, I found it more insightful than anything I encountered during acting classes; it actually digs beyond the prescriptive in a way that resonates, no matter which side of the lights you're on. To the topic tho, most directors fail pretty hard in communicating with actors (connecting, too--connection is so important!), which too often results in contrived, inauthentic performances. If this book were required reading for directors, of whatever stripe, As much a resource for actors as directors. Tbh, I found it more insightful than anything I encountered during acting classes; it actually digs beyond the prescriptive in a way that resonates, no matter which side of the lights you're on. To the topic tho, most directors fail pretty hard in communicating with actors (connecting, too--connection is so important!), which too often results in contrived, inauthentic performances. If this book were required reading for directors, of whatever stripe, that might not be the case.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anaam Mishra

    I think this book is essential if you want to know about actors and and how you can go about dealing with them. Though, a director evolves his own way of directing actors, which may vary project to project, this book has many 'do nots' that a new director might find useful. Having directed many commercials and short films, I find Judith very wise. I think this book is essential if you want to know about actors and and how you can go about dealing with them. Though, a director evolves his own way of directing actors, which may vary project to project, this book has many 'do nots' that a new director might find useful. Having directed many commercials and short films, I find Judith very wise.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Judith Weston is my hero.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    An honest and direct and ultimately very helpful guide to the relationship between director and actor. Weston's experience seeps through every section, supporting her advice and offering simple clarity. Sections in the middle drag and become repetitious, but but overall the advice contained here is well worth the investment. Anyone interested in directing actors, or in learning just what a director's (or even actor's) job is on a film, should check this out. Audiobook notes: read by the author (a An honest and direct and ultimately very helpful guide to the relationship between director and actor. Weston's experience seeps through every section, supporting her advice and offering simple clarity. Sections in the middle drag and become repetitious, but but overall the advice contained here is well worth the investment. Anyone interested in directing actors, or in learning just what a director's (or even actor's) job is on a film, should check this out. Audiobook notes: read by the author (available unabridged on Spotify). As you'd expect for an actor, her delivery is varied and heartfelt, although as with all narrators she has some quirks that may become tiresome after long periods - but Weston's aren't too bad. Her firm but gentle delivery rings with affection for her craft and the authority of experience. A very good reading.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Frewan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was a really illuminating book about acting. And, what's great is, Judith can talk very plainly because there is nothing at stake - she's not talking to actors! This is basically an "acting for non-actors" book and helps breakdown how acting works and how to direct and coach better acting as a director. I learned a lot, especially the ineffectiveness of phrasing this with "emotions" or "results" but giving the raw material that can generate emotions - facts, images, verbs, events, physicali This was a really illuminating book about acting. And, what's great is, Judith can talk very plainly because there is nothing at stake - she's not talking to actors! This is basically an "acting for non-actors" book and helps breakdown how acting works and how to direct and coach better acting as a director. I learned a lot, especially the ineffectiveness of phrasing this with "emotions" or "results" but giving the raw material that can generate emotions - facts, images, verbs, events, physicality. The examples that will stick with me are how you feel when you read, "this character loves her mom very much" versus "this character wrote a letter to her mom every day when she was in summer camp". Specificity and getting to the raw material for actors is something I didn't think about before, and know I feel like I will be more insightful about it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Castille

    3.5 stars. This is a must-read for directors who have little to no previous experience with acting. Coming from a performance background myself, I found it to be more of a refresher course on things I had previously learned, however I recognize that the majority of directors don't know how to speak to actors in a way that encourages authentic, meaningful results. I kept thinking "I wish directors had spoken to me this way when I was working", which reinforces how I want to speak to and collabora 3.5 stars. This is a must-read for directors who have little to no previous experience with acting. Coming from a performance background myself, I found it to be more of a refresher course on things I had previously learned, however I recognize that the majority of directors don't know how to speak to actors in a way that encourages authentic, meaningful results. I kept thinking "I wish directors had spoken to me this way when I was working", which reinforces how I want to speak to and collaborate with my actors. The emphasis on script analysis is very helpful as well.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Malcolm

    A reminder that directing is above all connecting If you are not engaging with your actors as collaborators and find your stories falling flat of what you imagined, it's probably because you're convinced that the director is supposed to come up with the solutions, the ideas, and humanity, but in fact, this book reminds us that a director's goal is to find the truth of the story with the actors and help them be comfortable enough to share it in front of the camera. A reminder that directing is above all connecting If you are not engaging with your actors as collaborators and find your stories falling flat of what you imagined, it's probably because you're convinced that the director is supposed to come up with the solutions, the ideas, and humanity, but in fact, this book reminds us that a director's goal is to find the truth of the story with the actors and help them be comfortable enough to share it in front of the camera.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michael Helms

    A book I continuously find myself going back to. This was an assigned book when I attended film school and its incredibly informative. Weston doesn’t bog you down with a bunch of pretentious nonsense that a lot of these writers specialize in. I also highly recommend it to actors. You’ll come to recognize the approach that some directors take and you’ll have an idea of if your director did his/her homework to help make your performance everything it could be.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tomas Biely

    This book is packed with so much information. It's incredibly well written. Love it. I read books that claimed to reveal all the secrets and insights of the industry, yet they don't. Here the author doesn't claim anything, yet delivers it all. This book is packed with so much information. It's incredibly well written. Love it. I read books that claimed to reveal all the secrets and insights of the industry, yet they don't. Here the author doesn't claim anything, yet delivers it all.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kristoffer Bjerg Jensen

    Lots of good points and tips on directing. However, it is not really a “page-turner”.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Eden Bailey

    Every director should read this.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kauchki

    This has been one of the most enlightening books I have read about direction. It made me empathise with actors and fall in love with their craft. It's definitely a must for anyone wanting to direct. This has been one of the most enlightening books I have read about direction. It made me empathise with actors and fall in love with their craft. It's definitely a must for anyone wanting to direct.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bo Bilic

    this is lowkey a great book for actors as well - especially if you’re looking to learn how to translate unclear direction into something playable

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hamish Downie

    Incredible, must read book for directors

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    Great. Lots of practical stuff

  20. 4 out of 5

    James

    The life of a method actor must be an emotionally tumultuous one. Method acting, described in this book, involves tapping in to emotions which the actor has experienced in her/his own life and applying it to the scene. It seems to me a recipe for an emotional train wreck. Imagine recalling painful memories in order to get yourself to cry and feel miserable. Reading this, one can understand why so many movie stars have emotional difficulties. I have a greater respect for actors. As entitled, the The life of a method actor must be an emotionally tumultuous one. Method acting, described in this book, involves tapping in to emotions which the actor has experienced in her/his own life and applying it to the scene. It seems to me a recipe for an emotional train wreck. Imagine recalling painful memories in order to get yourself to cry and feel miserable. Reading this, one can understand why so many movie stars have emotional difficulties. I have a greater respect for actors. As entitled, the book is about directing actors and therefore delves in to great depth about how actors work, how to communicate with them and the process of filming. It was an interesting read, but unless your planning on directing a film, probably not something that would be of great interest. For some insane reason, I am planning to do just that. This book gave me pause.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sergio GRANDE

    We work in a medium where intuition and perception are far more important than rules and formulas yet, rather paradoxically, this book manages to come up with a few rules that offer a peek into the connection between actor and director which is based on intuition and perception. It will not teach you to direct actors -and barely mentions the camera- but it will definitely offer a few tips you'd probably never thought of. The book is but a fraction of what Ms Weston has to offer in her workshops. I We work in a medium where intuition and perception are far more important than rules and formulas yet, rather paradoxically, this book manages to come up with a few rules that offer a peek into the connection between actor and director which is based on intuition and perception. It will not teach you to direct actors -and barely mentions the camera- but it will definitely offer a few tips you'd probably never thought of. The book is but a fraction of what Ms Weston has to offer in her workshops. It barely "catches a corner" of her experience (one of her expressions; you'll know it if you've ever "gone there" with her). But it is as close as you can get without actually attending one of her workshops. Read it if you're an actor or a director.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Abner Rosenweig

    I have been acting in theater and film since I was a kid but I didn't really understand what acting was until I read this book. Weston is enjoyable to read and deeply wise about the actor's process and human behavior in general. DA is packed with vital information for the actor or director, and while it will take several re-reads and much real practice before I fully integrate all of the techniques presented here, there are many things I can adapt immediately to significantly improve another's p I have been acting in theater and film since I was a kid but I didn't really understand what acting was until I read this book. Weston is enjoyable to read and deeply wise about the actor's process and human behavior in general. DA is packed with vital information for the actor or director, and while it will take several re-reads and much real practice before I fully integrate all of the techniques presented here, there are many things I can adapt immediately to significantly improve another's performance or my own performance in a role or my performance in life. A great book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Heitzman

    Insightful, honest, and realistic. Weston draws from a deep well of experience to answer almost every question a director could have. At times, she can slip into the assumption that everyone reading her book has a nice budget and experienced support (not particularly helpful to the student or indie filmmaker), but nonetheless her lessons are nearly universal. Where her own experiences may be lacking, Weston calls on the examples set forth by "the greats" who have come before. It is a great book, Insightful, honest, and realistic. Weston draws from a deep well of experience to answer almost every question a director could have. At times, she can slip into the assumption that everyone reading her book has a nice budget and experienced support (not particularly helpful to the student or indie filmmaker), but nonetheless her lessons are nearly universal. Where her own experiences may be lacking, Weston calls on the examples set forth by "the greats" who have come before. It is a great book, filled with wit and intelligent observation.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    Creating memorable preformances: an in deapth study of the drives motivations of screen actors. From casting to rehersal to quick fixes on set, this book is full of helpful advice. However take all advice with a grain of salt, because you must adapt to situations, personalities, and conflicts.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    Great book on how to direct film actors. It gives step-by-step instructions and a long list of "action" verbs to use when directing. I followed this book's advice and used some of its verbs to direct my film's actors with great results. Easy to read and great appendices. Great book on how to direct film actors. It gives step-by-step instructions and a long list of "action" verbs to use when directing. I followed this book's advice and used some of its verbs to direct my film's actors with great results. Easy to read and great appendices.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    An excellent resource for directing actors. Two thumbs up. Recommended in USC SCA Grad school. Check it out. Ms. Weston love trying to stretch your mind. If you get annoyed by it, just start skimming through and you'll still get a lot out of it. An excellent resource for directing actors. Two thumbs up. Recommended in USC SCA Grad school. Check it out. Ms. Weston love trying to stretch your mind. If you get annoyed by it, just start skimming through and you'll still get a lot out of it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    A filmmaker friend recommended this book to me a few years ago. I read it, and thought it was great. Time to read it again now that I'm a little older and more experienced, and in preparation for directing a play at New World Arts in December 2011. A filmmaker friend recommended this book to me a few years ago. I read it, and thought it was great. Time to read it again now that I'm a little older and more experienced, and in preparation for directing a play at New World Arts in December 2011.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    I took Judy Weston's directing workshop and read the book as a prep for the workshop. An excellent tool for both novice and experienced directors. I took Judy Weston's directing workshop and read the book as a prep for the workshop. An excellent tool for both novice and experienced directors.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Warren

    Great book so far. Really informative about how to work with actors and the best way to direct them to get natural, realistic performances that don't indicate emotions or thoughts. Great book so far. Really informative about how to work with actors and the best way to direct them to get natural, realistic performances that don't indicate emotions or thoughts.

  30. 4 out of 5

    An

    So far it has ideas that would be helpful during the writing process.

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