4 Ways to Hone Your Skills in Working with & Writing for Actors

articles power hour tips Apr 03, 2024

We had such a great Power Hour with Actress/Producer Kym Jackson talking about working and directing actors with success. It was packed full of great tips and tricks!

In that spirit, Sara Elizabeth shares four actionable ways you can work to hone your skills to best work with actors and how you can gain the insight to create scripts and dialogue that'll attract talented actors.

1. Take an Acting Class - This is truly a fantastic way to best understand the process of an actor. I have been in many a classes where both writers and directors were taking the class for this very reason. Bonus: If you are an introvert writer or a filmmaker who hates pitching, the skills and practice you get will help you with your communication and pitching as well!

2. Shadow a Working Director - Observing what a director on set does well, and perhaps not so well, is the ultimate learning environment. How do they give notes and interact with actors? What do their practices look like and how do they give adjustments? Learn first hand by experiencing a director at work. Some ways to find shadowing opportunities:

  • Call your local film commission to see what professional films are coming to the area and if they connect you to the right person (it is building local talent).
  • If you have a reputable film program at your local University, ask to shadow an MFA student (they are learning at this stage but you can learn together).
  • Ask filmmaker friends if they know professional directors or if they are on a film set, ask for the PM's info.

3. Direct a Short, Proof-Of-Concept or even a Staged Reading - One option is you could do a full blown short which gives you great experience as a director for when the big day comes to direct your feature and it can also be a great example of what you are able to accomplish (final product) as a director. Even just directing some scenes for fun and experience allows you to develop and practice integral skills that will give you more experience and confidence. You can find great talent at the local university, college, or acting studio. Actors love to act and would love the chance to build their muscles and craft and you may discover the next star! It is a gift for both you and them.

4. Do a Table Read - I give this advice a lot and have seen scripts grow immensely once a writer does this. Doing a table read and actually hearing the words go from paper to spoken word is such a KEY part of ensuring your dialogue sounds natural and believable while having good pacing and not being too wordy. This is especially helpful for comedy writers because you can hear which jokes land and which ones don't. Having a table read also opens the door for you to meet local actors and start building those connections!

Want more advice on working with actors? Members can re-watch Kym's Power Hour by heading to their membership dashboard under the module entitled, "Power Hour Archive."

Not a member? Join the waitlist to be the first to be reminded when our membership cart reopens in late May!


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.