by Michael Chasin
You are the guiding force—and decision maker—of your film.
You have written—or obtained—a masterful screenplay.
That screenplay is the reason why a great actor agrees to do your film.
And after the actor affirms that the script is powerful—concerns arise:
- Why must my character do this?
- Is it really necessary for my character to have short hair?
- This line of dialog doesn’t feel right.
- Can’t we imply this instead of overtly showing it?
As a collaborator in a highly collaborative endeavor—it is vital that you be open to different interpretations of the script.
Yet you must also understand that an intricately constructed screenplay—cannot be changed on an ad hoc basis.
So the need arises for that special skill and cultivated art—of balancing competing needs.
That balance should be driven by—the greater good of the film.
If the blocking of a scene will not affect a plot point—be willing to change.
If hair length will not affect the essence of the character—be willing to change.
If altered dialog will not affect character arc—be willing to change.
But anything that will compromise a character’s motivation—if it will weaken the core of the story—or if it diminishes the theme of the story—must not be changed.
In this give and take—inform the actor that all decisions are in the service of the story—and provide that specific story-related rationale to the actor.
The communicative, flexible filmmaker will breed—the flexible actor—which will breed—a great film.