Director Karyn Kusama is a director who loves working with actors. She explains how actors are exceptional in the life of a film and how you can approach different complications that may arise during production. 

Key Insights

  • Actors make themselves available to their deepest feelings; as a director you want to ensure that your actors are emotionally safe on your set. 
  • It can be risky to “trick” actors as a way to get performance, as building trust will be essential to getting great work.
  • Ask your actor questions about their characters or emotional states to help them track their development and help you modulate their performance.
  • An actor is ultimately in charge of what they give to their performance, but as the director, you need to help the actor protect their emotional energy. 
  • Every actor is different. Trust your intuition to know what you actor needs: do they need to hear encouragement at the end of the day? Do they need to be left alone? Do they need special attention or accommodations? 
  • Sometimes actors can be reckless, insecure, or will violate trust. As the director, you need to figure out what you need from that actor to complete the work, and then have a difficult but honest discussion. This requires vulnerability from both parties but as the director, you must lead and encourage strength in having an open conversation.

Karyn Kusama is currently an executive producer of Showtime’s coming-of-age survival drama, YELLOWJACKETS. The show has garnered seven Emmy nominations, including one for Karyn’s direction of the pilot episode. Prior to that, she helmed the Golden Globe-nominated film DESTROYER starring Nicole Kidman and written by her frequent collaborators, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. Her feature credits include indie thriller THE INVITATION, cult horror comedy JENNIFER'S BODY, sci-fi love story AEON FLUX, and her Cannes and Sundance-award winning debut, GIRLFIGHT. more...

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