Friday, March 1, 2013

A Fly On The Wall, March 1, 2012

Vision and Clarity
by Jim Murchison 

When you're reviewing a director it's a bit like judging figure skating. There's a lot of subjectivity about artistic impression and you're not always sure about what you saw. If the jump is carried off and sold to the audience, should you deduct points for the two footed landing if you aren't really sure you saw it? Directors have many different styles and you are generally judging overall impression.

In my limited experience as a director I stood back most of the time and let the cast do the work to see how their own chemistry evolved. When things got off track, I would nudge them back. Often times I would discuss general things and then tighten up after they would do a run or two at a scene. Of course you also have to eventually tell the cast where they are on stage and give them time to be comfortable with where they move to make sure that no one is upstaging the central focus.

Some directors are very fun and get great results because of it and others are dictatorial and do terrific work. Generally if the vision is good the cast buys in. Frank Capra would direct very differently than Alfred Hitchcock but in the end as long as the director knows what he wants, the actors and designers should be able to deliver it. As an actor I always appreciated knowing whether the director loved or hated what I was doing. Whether you love or hate your director, the most uncomfortable feeling a performer can have is when the director doesn’t really have any idea what he wants. There is a limited time to play and then the tough decisions have to be made. That third eye that sees what the audience is going to see has to have clear vision and a director above all has to be direct. 

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