Directing Workshop with Mairi Cameron

Today my class did a workshop with SAE director and lecturer Mairi Cameron. I am a producer but have done a bit of directing and really enjoyed it. I also studied theatre and film acting in high school so am fairly aware in what goes into the making of character. Although i knew quite a lot of the techniques and practices Mairi was explaining to us, it was still such a good refresher on what it takes to direct an actor and get the best performance out of them. When I was acting and directing, I would often write out backstories, specific character traits and other general information about characters. This helped me connect with them in a deeper way and Mairi gave us some more ways to do this. She taught us about different stages one could go through to create a more 3 dimensional character. One of the exercises i hadn’t done much of was selecting action verbs to apply to a scene. By doing this, you could communicate with the actor the intent of the scene without telling them exactly what to do. To practice this we were given a scene and had to figure out the given circumstances and apply some action verbs. I worked with Jaden Bowen (another producer) and together we came up with a very solid and understandable idea. We were able to ‘direct’ it with two members of our class. It was a lot more difficult to actually communicate with the actors what our scene was meant to be but by using some of the action words and explain in detail what the characters stories were, our two ‘actors’ were able to connect with the parts much easier. 

I was chosen to act out a different scene with my friend Matt. In the story world we had a romantical and physical connection, which we don’t in real life. The directors were struggling to try and explain our emotions and goals in the scene but with Mairi’s help we were able to get to the level of understanding our motivations. I used a technique i used to use while acting which was to imagine a similar situation that had occurred in my life and tap into those emotions and connections. By thinking of these events i was able to really connect with my character and could give a good performance. What I found the most interesting about this was how difficult it could be to get into a characters headspace when the direction is lacking. The directors for this one were really struggling to express what they wanted without telling us exactly what to do. It made me realise how much extra planning needs to go into a directors work of character development. Although not all actors don’t need extra information to connect with their character, some do and it is really important to have a very developed story world.

If i venture more into directing and even acting, I would definitely do some more research on the different methods of acting and how to really elaborate and connect with every actor. I think it’s really important to be knowledgable on what it takes to be an actor if you’re directing someone. It’s so important for both actors and directors to know how to work together and get each other to the level they need for whatever is being made. My history with acting and directing helped me a lot in this workshop as i could hone into those skills i learnt over many years. That being said though, there was a lot that was refreshed and I also learnt a few new things. As it is ever developing, I think keeping up and doing lots of research on acting and directing is vital for an aspiring creative. I learnt a lot about how to communicate and take care of actors on set as well. The actresses were telling us about some difficult people they worked with and how badly they were treated and how that effected their performances. They gave us some really good tips on keeping communication lines open, on hearing and trying feedback and how to work and develop the character with the actors.

Overall, this workshop was really useful and it really encouraged me to try and direct and even act more! I plan on doing some more research on different directing techniques and practice some script development to try and increase my skills and knowledge.

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