Originally posted: May 26, 2016 by Mirage Thrams
Take the note!
You killed at your audition, you have a great reputation in the community. You’re in a kick-ass show. Now how do you maintain this magic to make sure that you are moving forward in your acting career? For sure, don’t piss off your director.
Hollywood is known for it’s good actors. And believe me, your director can be one of them. Behind many a smile, “No worries”, or “We’ll make it work” phrase, could be a determined decision to never to work with you again. Surely not everything that an actor does is judged harshly, but there are a few unpardonable sins to be avoided and some things that are an absolute must.
1. Be able to take direction - This seems like a simple thing, but honestly it’s something that a bunch actors cannot do. There is a point of frustration in a director. It is then that many directors must make the decision to deal with the limitations of their actor. You do not want to be this actor. This will almost always guarantee that you will not work with this director in future projects. If you do not understand a direction, ask questions.
2. Do not direct other actors This is a surefire way to piss off both your director and your fellow actors. Even if you are a director yourself or have experience with a particular theater or scenario, keep your opinions of other actors performances to yourself. Anything else will make you look like an amateur or just a jerk.
3. Be prepared -Get off-book as soon as possible. Be responsible for your performance. Make initial performance choices and be prepared to change them if asked. Know that your director has many things to keep on top of and she depends on you to take care of yourself.
4. Roll with change - Sometimes you may be at a rehearsal and not have much to do. Sometimes you may feel that you may be up on your feet the entire time. This is part of the process. If you find yourself with down time, take your script and run your lines. Prepare yourself mentally. Busy yourself, and be mature about it. There are many things that make a show great and no one wants to worry about an actor whining about how valuable their time is. Rehearsals are part of the agreement you made to be a part of the show, remember that.
5. Don’t talk shiz behind your director’s back to other professionals
- Save the gossip for your dinner table. Your director probably knows at least as many or more people in town as you do. Even if he doesn’t, he most likely soon will. And your trash talking will definitely get back to him. The hills have eyes.
6. Don’t challenge your director’s process, especially in front of other actors - Be aware that this director’s style may be different (maybe much different) than what you are used to. You should be ready and willing to be work with the unexpected. Regardless of your personal opinions of the process, understand that working with different types of styles will make you a more well-rounded artist. And challenging your director’s choices during rehearsal- well, it’s just not right (or very smart).
7. Be kind to your other artists - If you don’t get along with someone, address the director. Keep it professional. Encourage each other and have each others’ back. You may work with this person again, and you never know in what capacity. And hey- keep your hands to yourself. Show some respect.
8. Place priority on the show - Don’t put the show down. Don’t talk about what you may have done better (especially during rehearsals). Don’t announce that you have to leave early to make another rehearsal (it’s always annoying). Don’t quit mid-show (come on now) . Try to make all rehearsals and practices. Keep personal burden issues to a minimum. If you have an agreement with your director prior to the show based on a personal situation, stay true to that agreement.
9. Pay Attention - Don’t whip out your phone or begin whispering to the guy sitting next to you during notes. If you are taking notes on your phone, try to let your director know. It’s super awkward when everyone else heard your note (the one that you’re not taking) and you didn’t. So anyway…
10. Communicate - This is most important. Never flat out refuse to take a direction, or to make an adjustment. If you have an issue, communicate it to the director- in person. There is nothing worse than a director that gets a last minute email about a sick actor, or a last minute absence. Call your director (or AD) as soon as you know that you will have an issue.
If you must leave a show for any reason (that reason should be good), make every attempt to speak with your director about why you must leave face to face. Don’t send an email or text. Never send a message through another actor (even if that other actor is your mama).
If you feel that you are having an issue with any part of production and/or another actor, let your director know as soon as possible. And always let the director know of any scheduling conflicts as soon as you know of them.
This is LA, y’all. Like it or not, actors are in full supply. But there is only one of YOU. Be sure, you will leave an impression on your director, good or bad. A director may be respectful of and open to many things, however that doesn’t mean that she will want to work with you again. You’re in control of your professional acting career. And whether you are working for free or for pay, each show is an investment. Make smart choices. Even if you don’t work with that director again. Know that word gets around, and at least leave an impression so that she will want to come out for a drink with you at some point in life.