The Importance of Being ... Reallyreally Nice To Your Actors


(Amanda Taylor) #1

As creators who are often producing, directing, writing, costuming, feeding, scheduling (etc etc) your actors, it’s pretty easy to see them as the (eyeroll) talent and be annoyed by the necessary evil of their presence.

[me directing]

But! I beg of you! Do not discount these humans and in fact: bend over backwards to make them comfortable and happy on your set. They are the face of your work, and will be the ones who, 9 times out of 10, people associate with it. They have power to promote, tell other actors you were great to work with, help your project gain traction.

I am all of the things listed above, and I am ALSO an actor, so I am always the actors’ advocate on our sets, ensuring they are prioritized and taken care of so they can do their best work and have fond memories of working with us.

[me acting]

Offer food actors will feel okay eating.
For an actor, their body and face is their job, and health is usually a priority. Even if your crew wants pizza every day, consider that your actors might appreciate a salad. It’s a lot easier to focus on lines and emotions if you’re full of nutritious food that won’t burn off and make you crash later!

Give them a place to rest and hang out.
We set up a cot on our last set, and all three of our leading ladies shared it for a quick nap. It was bonding, and funny. And that whole idea of being “in the trenches” is really true, and any opportunity you can give your cast to get to know each other and blow off steam between takes will make their on-screen chemistry even better.

Recognize that what they do is hard work.
For some reason, acting seems to be blown off as not being difficult or draining or all-consuming. A lot of times when I’m acting on top of doing all my other duties I feel apologetic when I have to request time to learn lines or rehearse a scene. I wish I wasn’t ever made to feel this way!

Validate those vain suckers.
Actors love praise, applause, feedback, attention, audiences … you get the idea. Tell them how much you love what they bring to a role (that no one else could). Once you’ve wrapped, your marketing and messaging should reflect the same appreciation.

What do you think? How do you cater to your actors? And hey, while you’re here go follow Apple Juice Productions, the all-female production company I founded, which makes fan series and films based on great literature. Right now we are raising money for the next installment in our Lily Evans series, set in the Harry Potter universe and following the story of Harry’s parents and their friends!

(Bri Castellini) #2

This is such a good point that people (myself included) totally forget!! It can be tempting to just get everyone the same thing, but it’s sooooo helpful to remember everyone on set has different needs (not just preferences) and you should always ALWAYS be conscious of that.

(Barbara Mc Thomas) #3

I put a lot of effort into my craft services table and bring out new stuff every couple of hours to keep things fresh. Grapes, crackers and cheese have been the biggest hits. There’s always one hot meal during which all shooting stops - no grabbing a sandwich between takes, they sit down and rest/eat.

I provided wardrobe even though they are mostly wearing “regular” clothes, and they are welcome to keep it if they want. They have to do their own hair and makeup so I wanted to be able to have one thing they didn’t have to do themselves.

We took promo photos of them in character and they are welcome to digital copies. And my big thing - I will move heaven and earth to rearrange the shooting schedule to accommodate day jobs or a paying gig. I know they are doing me a huge favor by deferring payment and I don’t want to take advantage.

(Herman Wang) #4

Hey, we make a series set in the Harry Potter universe too! The Spell Tutor

One thing I try to do for our actors is to give them good writing. I imagine there’s nothing worse for an actor than to play a boring character. Give them consistent and deep personalities, ups and downs in the plot, and room to make the character their own. They’ll be more invested in the project as a result.

(Ayelette Robinson) #5

This is a great topic! I am an actor and producer, so I understand both sides of how actors are treated. First off, I want to say that I don’t know why the actors are called “the talent” – obviously everyone on set is (or hopefully is!) talented and skilled at what they do. But putting that aside, for those of you who have never studied acting, here’s why it makes sense to treat actors differently from everyone else on set:

For everyone else on the crew, you can do your job no matter how you are feeling. You may be excited, you may be anxious, you may be tired, you may be frustrated, or any number of things may be going on inside you. But no matter how you are feeling, you can still do your job – set up a light, adjust the camera, keep track of the script pages being shot, etc. However, an actor’s job is to show you her or his emotions! So if the scene involves being sad or angry, and the crew are joking and laughing around you, it is really really hard to get into the emotional and mental space you need to be in to do your job well. Same thing in reverse – if the scene involves being relieved or overjoyed, and everyone on set is complaining about craft services or how annoying the producer or director is, it is really really hard to do your job.

Now, every actor is different. Some actors thrive off of interacting with people before they start shooting. But many actors need space and quiet before they start shooting so that they can get into the emotional state they need to be in for the scene and do their job well both for themselves and to help make you look good.

For the most part, actors are not rude or anti-social, they just – like you – want to do their jobs well. And in order to do that, they need space and quiet. So please do treat your actors well, and set them up for success! That will make your project even better!!

(Bri Castellini) #6

Such good points!!

(Amanda Taylor) #7