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 wrote and directed her first feature film, Girlfight, in 1999. The film won the Director’s Prize and shared the Grand Jury Prize at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. In 2004, Karyn directed the science fiction love story Aeon Flux for Paramount Pictures. Her third feature was the comedy-horror film Jennifer's Body, written by Diablo Cody, and released by 20th Century Fox. more...

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