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-   -   Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances? (http://www.movieforums.com/community/showthread.php?t=61616)

ironpony 05-27-20 03:33 PM

Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances?
 
I keep learning this as an aspiring director in film school and by other people I work with. I am told that if the acting is bad in your projects, it's not the actors, it's you the director.

But in my experience some actors do a better job than others, and it seems like a large part of it is the actor.

For example if Paul Thomas Anderson cast say... Dolph Lundgren in There Will Be Blood, could he have directed Lundgren to give just as good as a performance as Daniel Day-Lewis, because he is Paul Thomas Anderson and he is that good at directing performances?

Or do the actors you pick actually make a huge difference, and it's not all on the director to get a good performance?

Yoda 05-27-20 04:23 PM

Re: Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances?
 
It is obviously not all on the director, since they're working with other people. That absolutely shouldn't be the question.

How much it is on them is pretty much impossible to answer. Some people are hard to work with, some aren't. Some work well together, some don't. There is nothing even close to a clear/binary answer to this question.

Mr Minio 05-27-20 05:15 PM

Re: Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances?
 
Just do what Bresson did. 100% success rate!

Stirchley 05-27-20 05:31 PM

Originally Posted by ironpony (Post 2094650)
I keep learning this as an aspiring director in film school and by other people I work with. I am told that if the acting is bad in your projects, it's not the actors, it's you the director.
The director is solely in charge & everything in the movie falls on him. If the actors are bad that’s on him as a director. He either didn’t direct them properly or didn’t give them enough confidence in themselves (very important) or he didn’t fire them & find someone else for the rôles.

Yoda 05-27-20 05:37 PM

Re: Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances?
 
That's a good point re: firing. They obviously can't always force a good performance but they can make the difficult-but-necessary decision to replace someone that isn't working out.

Off the top of my head, reshooting chunks of Back to the Future with Michael J. Fox instead of Eric Stoltz was probably a pretty tough decision for Zemeckis, but it was obviously the right choice.

Yoda 05-27-20 05:38 PM

Re: Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances?
 
Oh, caveat about how producers sometimes have the last say on casting, too, so all director responsibility is at least contingent on how much control they actually have.

mark f 05-27-20 05:42 PM

And the director had the sense not to get caught in here. Or the short answer, JC. Aside to Lundgren - why'd you work with so many crap directors?

Stirchley 05-27-20 06:21 PM

Originally Posted by Yoda (Post 2094720)
That's a good point re: firing. They obviously can't always force a good performance but they can make the difficult-but-necessary decision to replace someone that isn't working out.
In the movie Her, Spike Jonze replaced Samantha Morton with Scarlett J. even though all her “scenes” were finished. He felt Samantha wasn’t right for the rôle & he said she is still friends with him. :)

Originally Posted by Yoda (Post 2094721)
Oh, caveat about how producers sometimes have the last say on casting, too, so all director responsibility is at least contingent on how much control they actually have.
I forgot to mention auteurs before. Now these guys - like Woody Allen, Bergman, et al. - really really control their movies. I wonder if they would even allow a producer to make a casting decision? Bergman wouldn’t, but that was a long time ago & I wonder if it happens today. Obviously that’s where the funding is coming from.

Yoda 05-27-20 07:02 PM

Re: Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances?
 
Yeah, and in practice even if the producer is in charge they're not gonna want to fight the director if they insist, so I'm sure it's complicated.

resopamenic 05-28-20 12:37 AM

"it depends"

ironpony 05-28-20 02:31 AM

Originally Posted by Stirchley (Post 2094717)
The director is solely in charge & everything in the movie falls on him. If the actors are bad that’s on him as a director. He either didn’t direct them properly or didn’t give them enough confidence in themselves (very important) or he didn’t fire them & find someone else for the rôles.
Oh okay, makes sense.

What if the director is forced to work with actors who are not the best, because of budget and resources, so they are just stuck in a rock and a hard place. What's the best thing to do then?

honeykid 05-28-20 11:57 AM

Don't forget about Casting Directors. Unless you're someone like Taylor Hackford, they can be quite influencial.

ynwtf 05-28-20 12:22 PM

Re: Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances?
 
Put this, like everything, through a real world lens.Say you're the boss of a small company and staff aren't pulling their weight. You want a quality product yet you have poor staff (for whatever reason and for whatever lacking quality necessary for a good product). You, as a good boss/leader should be mindful enough to coach the staff into a better attitude or whatever. Failing that, you must also be mindful enough to recognize that it is time to replace them or task others to pick up the slack. Of course I'm oversimplifying, but I kinda think that's necessary given how broad all this always is.

More, I think you're looking at it completely backwards. As a director/boss/leader/whatever, how bad of a job must you have done to allow a poor product to be released, completely missing how incapable your staff/crew/actors were to begin with? Unavoidable external factors notwithstanding. I don't mean you, personally. Just, I mean the universal you.

Still at its root, it's just general social skills and interactions. Understanding that answers most of it.

Gideon58 05-28-20 12:23 PM

I absolutely believe that great directors can get great performances out of actors. I also believe some of the best directors with this talent are former actors (Woody Allen, Ron Howard, Rob Reiner, Penny Marshall, Richard Benjamin, etc.).

Holden Pike 05-28-20 12:24 PM

Re: Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances?
 
Followup question: Is it true that a high fiber diet will make you poop a lot?

I'll hang up and take my answer on the air.

Citizen Rules 05-28-20 01:34 PM

Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances?

Either an actor has the chops or they don't. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

ironpony 05-28-20 04:21 PM

Re: Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances?
 
Oh okay, it's just in the world of microbudget filmmaking when you do not have a lot of options to choose from that you can afford, it seems that attitude is, you have to reinvent the wheel and actually find a way to make a silk purse from a sow's ear.

Yoda 05-28-20 04:27 PM

Re: Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances?
 
I think, in that case, it usually ends up meaning constructing a film that doesn't rely on world-class performances to begin with.

ironpony 05-28-20 04:59 PM

Re: Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances?
 
Yeah that makes sense. The only genre I can think of where you might be able to get away with not the greatest performances is comedy, but I do not do at comedy as a director so far, and comedy scripts seem to be a harder sell in the independent market, it seems so far.

Yoda 05-28-20 05:04 PM

Re: Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances?
 
Comedy is a good example, though the one I had in mind when I said that was science fiction, since a lot of sci-fi fans care about high concept stuff more than acting, or even writing. But there are different ways to go about it, for sure.

Good dialogue can be very cheap, too, but can be pretty reliant on delivery, too. That said, even without world-class performers, I feel like a tenacious and diligent director can find plenty of capable actors for something like that at low cost. An awful lot of talented people want to break into the business, after all.

ironpony 05-28-20 08:05 PM

Re: Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances?
 
Oh okay. And of course I try to avoid sci-fi, because it's more difficult to pull off on a smaller budget. For a small budget, I prefer to try a stab at directing a thriller, along the lines of something like Lifeboat (1944), in a small setting, with limited characters. But perhaps the downside of that, budget wise, is you need really good actors to sell it?

Stirchley 05-29-20 04:01 PM

Originally Posted by ironpony (Post 2094855)
What if the director is forced to work with actors who are not the best, because of budget and resources, so they are just stuck in a rock and a hard place. What's the best thing to do then?
Reverse the question & consider what an actor can do when he realizes the director is a dud. I often think about this. How disappointing to learn one’s lines & then on set realize that you’re in a dreadful movie. The only thing to do (seeing as all parties are paid for their work) is to “stay calm & carry on” to the bitter end. Some actors (Kim Basinger, e.g.) break their contracts & face the consequences.

Originally Posted by honeykid (Post 2094902)
Don't forget about Casting Directors. Unless you're someone like Taylor Hackford, they can be quite influencial.
Are they? Surely their job is to find & suggest cast members rather than bring cast members forward whom they wish to have in the movie.

Originally Posted by ynwtf (Post 2094908)
As a director/boss/leader/whatever, how bad of a job must you have done to allow a poor product to be released, completely missing how incapable your staff/crew/actors were to begin with?
Depends how experienced the director is & how much he needs to make a living. Maybe he played the cards he was dealt with & tried to make the best of he situation. There’s thousands of bad movies in circulation.

Is it true that a good director can bring out great performances?
Totally true. I’ve read loads of stories where the actor said later he was terrified to take on the rôle for one reason or another & the only thing that got him through was the director managing to pull a great performance out of him. Julie Christie, e.g., in Darling absolutely refused to do the nude scene. John Schlesinger, the director, insisted it was necessary to the plot. He cajoled & comforted her, told her she could do it, the film would be a huge success, etc. & she eventually did it. (Her comment when she saw the rushes was “not bad”.) And the movie is still a classic of British cinema.


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