The Three Point Lighting Technique

Film Light With The Three Point Lighting Technique

Film_lighting-SWhen you light a scene it is not enough to just bring enough light so the character will be seen. You also need to give the photographed object a three-dimensional look. This illusion will be created with the shadows and highlights in the shot. The great advantage of this technique is that you can do it even without any expensive lighting equipment.

The three point lighting technique is a classic Hollywood lighting technique. There are many more lighting techniques out there, but this is the most basic one and it can be developed into many other variations.If you want to learn how to set up light in a scene, you have to start from this scheme. It is built from key light, fill light and backlight.

Before you start working on the Three points light scheme

If you read the 5th lesson about Tips for lighting a scene, then you already know this. I’m going to repeat it here because it is very important to remember.
You can start working on lighting only after the shot has been set and the camera angle has been chosen. You have to make sure you know, where the actors will stand, move and wich way they will face. You should also think what is allegedly the main source of light in the scene (is it the window in the room, the lamp etc).

Key light

  • The key light is the main light in the scene. (It doesn’t have to be the brightest, though) and It is the first light we establish. The key light is aimed directly at the object and it will determine the shape and form of the photographed object.
  • When planning the key light think about what is the main source of light in the scene. If the main light needs to come from a window, make sure your key light looks like it’s coming from a window.
    There are several types of key light. There is the point source key light,
    a spotlight or an area light, so the first thing you need to decide
    is which type of key light you want to use.
    The second thing you need to decide is the position of the key light. The angle that you’ll choose to put your key light will create shadows that will tell us what kind of location it is and even what time of day it is.
  • The conventional key position is about 45 degree to the side of the object, eye level and in front of it, but I really recommend playing with it. Put the key light in different positions (even behind the subject) and see what kind of shot you are getting.
    Look at the person’s nose and at the shadow it casts. Does it look natural to you? Are the eyes too dark (happens when the key light is too high)?
    If your source light in the scene suppose to be a lamp from the ceiling, and the shadow your object’s nose make is in the mouth, then it makes sense.
    Take the time you need to set the right key light. All the other lights will be set by the strength, angle, and color of the key light.
  • When shooting outside the sun is usually the key light and the photographer need to decide if he wants to arrange the whole  scene by the sun or to wait until the sun is in the right position for him.

Fill light

  • After we set the key light, we have a big contrast between the lit area and the dark area, so now we need to balance the key light. The fill light’s purpose is to soften the key light’s edges so the shadows will be softer and also cover a side of the photographed object that the key light can’t reach.
  • usually, it’s the second light you set and usually, the light is positioned in the opposite to the key light and in the same height as the key light. 
  • Before you set the fill light you need to think what is allegedly the second source of light in the scene (is it a candle in the room, a small lamp, etc).
  • It can also help if the key light and the fill light overlap each other.
  • Many times the key light can be produced by a reflector like a white wall or a card box. That will create a softer light that sometimes look better

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The problem with fill light is that it might cast a shadow of the subject in the background. When that happen you need to find a way to diffuse the light further so the shadow won’t be so bad. You can move the light close to the photographed subject. Another solution might be to move the subject and the fill light as much as possible from the background.

Check out the Fancierstudio Light Kit 3 Point Lighting Kit Fluorescent Lighting Kit Umbrella Kit DK3B


  • By highlighting the subject’s edges, the backlight will separate the subject from its background. The backlight is usually positioned behind the subject and above it.
  • The backlight should be used also to lit the other elements in the scene. Only after seeing the light that the key and fill created, you can tell how much light you’ll need for the background. Sometimes You may not need it at all.
  • The trick with backlight is not to lit the background more than the subject.

The three point set up is a great technique, that once you will control it, you will be qualified to work in the industry, but I suggest to always try and develop it into something more creative. The three point lighting doesn’t have to be as strict as it sounds. It can be used for many lighting styles. For example, you can decide to have a few key lights on each object in the shot. Play around and work by the logic of the scene. 

If you have any suggestions for developing the Three point lighting technique, please comment and let us all know.




Developing Characters With Great Characters Examples


How To Develop Your Story Characters

Every movie is driven by its character. The plot never does anything by itself.
I’m going to teach you how to develop your characters while keeping your character reliable and interesting.

Developing characters is all about making your characters complex, ambiguous with good and bad qualities. Your character can be stupid if you want it to be, but it has to have an inner logic that it is loyal to it. Her actions in the movie should go by her personality and not out of nowhere.

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Creating a character that the audience will want to meet

Think about what makes you relate to a character. Is it when she reminds you a little bit of you or someone you like? Or maybe she reminds you of who you want to be. Indiana Jones is a great character because he is a tough dude that many of us, men, wish to be. He is also full of adventure spirit we wish to have.

Look at all the characters you like in films and in novels. What is it about them that reminds you of you? What is it that make you like them?

In the movie Inside out, the writers had to deal with the happiness of the Joy character. The problem was she was happy all the time and no one can relate to that. The writers did a good job with the character by creating two elements: first is when Riely started to get sad. Joy try to fight the sad feelings and this is when Joy appears to us as vulnerable. The second thing that the writers did is that they made it clear that Joy is happy all the time because she cares about Riely and want her to be happy and not from selfish reasons. This is also something we can relate to. 

You should also think if the characters you write are ones that the audience would like to hang out with? Are they interesting enough? Are they funny or smart? What is it about them that makes you want to meet them?

Developing The Characters Goals & Motivations

  • The characters are moving the plot with their choices. The protagonist  (The main character) is the leading voice in the story and there for his goal will be the most important one, but all the characters should have goals too.
    Why is that so important?
    The audience wants to see a character that makes things happen. We like the character just for the fact that she is trying to change her world (which means she doesn’t have to succeed). As long as the drive and goals of your characters are clear to the audience, you are in a good place. Find out what each character wants to get from the story.
  • You also need to know why the characters want to get these goals. What is their motivation? Remember! All of the decisions she’ll make in the story will come from that motivations and goals.
  • Sometimes the motivations might come out of fears. Find out what is your character fear or darkest side and where is it coming from.

Quick Tip!
You should watch out for passive characters. Don’t get me wrong. There are many successful films with passive characters like Big Lebowski, but you have to be a skillful writer to pull it off. If you are using a passive character, something is got to happen to pull her out from her passiveness.

  • The character will usually go through a road of obstacles until she’ll get to where she wanted to be at the beginning of the film.

Look for the emotion

You need to really investigate your character’s leading emotion. What is the one emotion that keeps following her throughout the script. Is it her obstacle in the film that needs to be changed in the end or is it what’s motivate her? Or maybe even both? The character’s emotion is something that should be changed throughout the film. For example, the emotion that leads Batman is anger or repressed anger. This feeling makes him walk a thin line between helping people and hurting them. 

Developing a 3- Dimensional Characters

Your characters need to be believable and you will get that by making 3-dimensional characters and you will create that by knowing their back story.

  • Another important thing to remember is that your character had a life before the story begun (unless she is born into the world in the story). Many beginner writers forget that and they get a very shallow character. You should start by writing her biography. A complete resume of her life from birth until the story started. You have to know your characters like you know your best friend.
  • These are the things you need to know about your characters:
    Physical: how do they look? What is their weight, height and age? Do they have any distinguishing features? Is he strong? Is he tall? How does she talk?That may not be important to the story, but you need to know it for yourself. 
    Sociological: Where did she grow up and where does she live now? What kind of family did he come from? What were his earlier jobs before he got to where he is now? Were there any important events in his childhood that changed him?
    Psychological: How does your character talk? What kind of person is he? What are his greatest fears? What are his greatest desires? Is he a perfectionist? Is he a slob? The important thing here is to understand her point of view on life. 
  • Writing the background of the character is important to understand the mood and style of the story you are going to tell.
  • The more you’ll make your character look and feel real, the audience will love her more. The more specific you’ll be in her biography – the better.
    Don’t write general things like James is a dog with a fear of abandonment and every time his owners are going out he is going mad.
    Write: When James started to get used to his new house and owners, the wife didn’t feel good and both she and her husband went to the hospital and didn’t come back for two days. Ever since he is suffering from a fear of abandonment. Think about 5 characters you like from films, TV or literature and think what it is about them that you can identify with. That will help you understand the idea better.
  • Put yourself in her shoes and stop to think about her actions and relationships. Look at all the actions she is doing and make her start thinking about them. Make her ask questions like, Why am I doing this? Am I sure this is the right thing to do? Why do I hate this person so much?
  • Don’t be afraid to take details from other people you know. Start carrying a notebook and start writing interesting details about people you meet.
  • Use Psychological websites. There are many sites with psychological tests that you can run your character through. Try that. it’s fun and you can learn great things about your characters

Even if you find the bad guy generally repulsive, you need to be able to put yourself so thoroughly into his shoes while you’re writing him that, just for those moments, you almost believe his slant yourself.
K.M. Weiland, quote from Maybe Your Bad Guy Is RIGHT!

The Protagonist – Our Main Character

  • The audience should get to know the main character as much as possible and as fast as possible. The main character in the story is the person that from his point of view the audience will see the story. He doesn’t have to be the one who tells the story. In the Disney movie Aladin, we know Aladin is the main character, but the one who tells the story is the old Arab at the beginning of the film (which some claim it’s the Genie).
  • The protagonist also has to change during that road. If we said earlier that the goal of the main character is the fuel that drives the movie forward – the change is the resolving of the story. It is the premise which is the reason the story is presented to us. After all, the real job of your main character is to deliver your premise. A good example is Han Solo from the Star Wars series. Han Solo starts as a cynical character that only cares about himself (therefore the name Solo). Throughout the three films, Hans become a friend of Luke, the leader of the rebellion and in a romantic relationship with princess Leia.
  • There is usually one protagonist, but sometimes there might be two or more that will complete each other (as if they are one). When you have a few characters as one protagonist, I Recommend that in the beginning of the writing process, you’ll write more characters than you plan to have. For example, if your story has 5 characters as the protagonist right at the beginning as if you have 8 and see which one of them work best.
  • Don’t make your Character perfect – Perfect people are not interesting and they are hard to relate to. You always need to give your main character one flaw and usually the flaw will be related to his passion. It should be the same about your antagonist. Your antagonist can’t do bad things just because he is pure evil. There should be some complex feelings that drive him to do what he does. A good example for that is the protagonist od the movie Deadpool. Deadpool is more of an anti-hero than a hero- he is insecure, he hate himself and he deals with a big tragedy in his life. 
  • Remember! Nothing is final. Your character will continue to grow while you are working on the script. Your characters may even surprise you during the writing
  • All these rules should be applied to te Antagonist as well.

The Format of Writing a Character in a Script

  • The first time you mention a character in the script, you should write it with capitalizing letters. After the name will come a very short description of the character. That’s why the first time, we write her name is with capital letters- so if the reader will forget who that character is, he can find her description very easy. The next time you will mention her name will be ןמ the standard first letter with capital. So, the first time a character is mentioned should look like this:
    “JAMES, a small brown dog with 3 legs is crawling after his master”
  • Remember! You can’t write emotion and thoughts when you describe a character or her actions. For example, you can’t write, “James is sitting on his bone so no one will be able to take it”. You can only describe what the character is thinking through actions or dialog (through actions is better). You also can’t sneak in information about the character- “James, Lior’s dog, is a small brown dog”.
  • Make sure the spelling of the character’s name is consistent throughout the script.

Remember! Your goal is to make the readers care about your characters, so they will more emotionally invest in the story.


The Art and Technique of the Documentary Interview

Preparing & Shooting A Documentary Interview 

Documentary interview
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A documentary interview is an important technique in documentary films, where one or more persons are answering a list of questions. Some documentaries use only interviews in their films (these documentaries are known as talking heads), but it’s not as simple as it may look like.

When you are Shooting an interview in your film, you are really declaring that you are taking an active part in the making of this film and you are not just “A fly on the wall”. There are no objective questions. When you ask a question in a documentary interview, you already have the answer in it.
When you do an interview you are not only trying to get the facts, you are also trying to get a point of view and an opinion on all subject and to deliver it to the audience. You have to do a lot of planning and preparations.

Types of Interviews

There are 2 parts of interviews:

  1. Direct interview- We here and maybe even see the interviewer asking questions.
  2. Indirect interview– where we see the subject talking to the camera, but we don’t see or hear the interviewer asking the questions that are leading him as he speaks.
    It is important to know before the interview, what kind is it going to be.

Preparations for a documentary interview

  • Plan ahead all the people you want to interview. Make a list of every person you think might contribute to your film and write down what is it that they can add to the movie. Also, plan how the interview is going to be shot. Are you going to shoot him sitting down or while he is doing something?
  • Do the research for the subject you are about to talk about and about the person you are going to interview. What are his strengths and weaknesses? If it’s possible, meet with him before the interview. Try to find out as much information about him as possible. While you do the research about him, write down notes and questions you might want to discuss with him. If it’s possible to do a pre-interview with the person that about to be interviewed-Use it to explain him about the film and what you are trying to say in it. Don’t give hi, a list of the questions you are planning to ask.

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  • After you’ve done your research, plan the questions ahead. Start with brainstorming. Make a list of guiding questions. Think what is it that your audience will want to know from him.
    Write open questions (The kind that usually starts with ‘How’, ‘What’, ‘When’ and ‘Why’). Not the kind of questions where he can simply answer “yes” or “no”.
  • Write follow-up questions to your main questions
  • Make sure the questions cover the main points of the subjects.
  •  Find a good location for the shooting. Are you going to shot in his home, his workspace or a studio?  Think about things like lighting and background noises, but also about if the location can support the things your interviewee will say or the theme of your film. 

During the interview

  • The first thing you need to do is sign the interviewee on a release form. There are many kinds of release forms out there, but what you really need is that the interviewee will let you edit the footage of him in the film in whatever way you’ll need, as long as you are loyal to the truth. You also need to make sure that the form gives you the right to use the footage in every media you’ll like.
  • Don’t start with the camera rolling right away. Put the camera near the interviewee, so he will get used to it, but don’t turn it on yet. Remember!
    Your interviewee is in a very vulnerable position, so you should try to make him feel more at ease. Talk to him about other stuff then the subject of the interview. Let him know you and try to know him better. When you feel he is relaxed, you can start explaining him about the movie (If you haven’t done a pre-interview yet) and what you are trying to say in it. Try to recognise some of his fears and to eliminate them.
  • Start with the easy questions. The one you know the interviewee won’t have any problem answering.
  • On the interview, it is very important to listen to your interviewee. Allow yourself to go out of the questions and come back to them when needed.
  • When you run out of questions, ask the interviewee if hew has anything more to add. This is important because there might be an angle you didn’t think about.

Technical stuff for shooting a documentary interview

  • Tell the interviewee to answer a complete answer using the question asked. For example, if you ask him what his name, don’t let him answer “James”. He should answer, “My name is James”. That way you can edit out your questions.
  • Some directors like to use two cameras: 1 for a medium shot and the other for the close-up. There is no need to use a camera to shoot you. If you want to be in the film, you can shoot yourself asking the questions after the interview is over.
  • The camera should be placed about 30 degrees from the interviewee. That means that the interviewee is looking slightly left or right (left if the camera is on the right side of him and looking right when the camera is on his left) and Leave room for talking space
  • Avoid talking while the interviewee is talking or the video editor will curse you, when he’ll try to eliminate your voice from the interview. Sometimes it will be impossible to do that. If your voice happens to overlap the voice of the interviewee, ask him to repeat that sentence again.

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Editing the documentary interview

You can read my post about Editing for The Documentary, but for now, the important thing to know is that when you edit the interview, usually the director will choose to cover the image of the talker with other images that are somehow related to what he is saying. This is a great technique because sometimes just to see someone talking might be boring. The images can also support what the interviewer is saying and to give you more artistic ways to release your movie from the formal talking head style. The main reason is that covering his image will allow you to edit what he is saying without the audience noticing. This is good when it takes to the interviewer too much time to get to the point. When you use this interview technique, you want to show the interviewer at the beginning and then to start cover. You can also come back to him when he is saying his last sentence, just to remind the audience who is this person that talks right now.

Your homework for today is to find someone that affected your life somehow. it can be a teacher, your parents, a friend etc. and interview him. Go through all the principles we mentioned here. If you want you can send it to my mail: and I will give you comments on it. we can also upload it to let everyone see it and hear their reviews. You can also send with Wetransfer which is a free tool to send files up to 2 Giga

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The Story Structure

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The Story Structure

Story structure is one of the basic tools to play with in storytelling. The goal of the structure to organize the events in the story so they will be clear to the audience and also to built tension and a rising emotion in the script.  In this article, I will explain more about it and give you some story structure examples, but before we get deep into the classic structure of films, there are a few things you should know:

When to start working with the 3 acts rule?

When you are working on the first draft of your script, you should  have the film structure in mind, but personally, I recommend getting deep into the story structure only in the second draft so you won’t end up with a very formulaic script. I also recommend working with story structure only after you really understand your characters and the change they are going through.


as I said, script structure is a very basic tool and when you’ll start to analyze films, you’ll see that most of them if not all of them are using this structure.

The beat

To understand story structure, we have to understand the beat. If you read Robert McKee’s

Now:If you read Robert McKee’s

If you read Robert McKee’s book,Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting, then you’ve heard about this story element. For these of you who haven’t read it, it is a small change that happens inside a scene. Every scene should have at least one beat in it. When working on the story’s structure I would recommend starting with writing a list of all the beats in the script.

Timing each part of the story structure

Most script writing guides and lessons will also tell you how much time each part should have. I’m really against that kind of teaching. I don’t believe that there should be a fixed time limit to each part and this kind of thing depends on your film. Another thing about timing the acts is that those guides do not fit to short films. For example, they will tell you that you need to give about 12 minutes to the opening or at least 10 percent of all film, but in a short story, you don’t have time for that. In a short script, the opening shouldn’t take more than 1 page.

The 3 acts of a good story structure

A good story is generally divided into 3 major part: The opening, The middle and ending. Also known as act 1, act 2 and act 3. The important thing to remember is that all acts should arise from the protagonist’s desire. The one thing he wants should be your guide through these acts. I suggest writing down on a piece of paper the protagonist’s goal and keep looking at it while going through the acts. You can read about working with the protagonist’s desires in my Developing Characters post. It is also important to remember that the structure is not only for the plot but also for the internal journey that the hero is going through.

The opening- Act 1

The opening is the most important part. If it’s not working, you have a problem and I wouldn’t continue on until it is working. That is why I’ve also written an entire post about the opening of your film. The opening or the exposition is where we build the setup of the story. We get to know where the story is set and who are the main characters.

Quick Tip!
The opening is also where the writer should introduce the theme of the story or the general question of the theme. This theme will drive the rest of the story

The opening will end with a turning point (also known as the catalyst). We will have a few of this turning point and this is the first one. This turning point is something that happens to the hero and changes his life completely. It will bring our main character a conflict and an opportunity to solve it. The turning point should also introduce us to the theme of the movie.  In the movie Back To The Future, this is where doc brown show Marty his new experiment. The turning point is when the Libyan terrorists are trying to kill him. Marty is forced to run away in the Delorean and accidently fly into the past. 


Things to be careful in act 1:

Don’t start the story too soon. If nothing happens for a long time, that might be a problem. Don’t waste your audience’s time with too many explanations. See if there are explanations you can delete or move to act 2. Also, make sure that we know the protagonist enough to feel empathy for him.

Act 2- Rising Action

This is the hardest act to write in the script. This act will tell us the consequences of the turning point and how the hero is going to deal with them. All of  the hero’s world has changed and now he will have to fix it by the time the film ends. The hero shouldn’t go right away to fix the problem.He will start by learning how to adjust to the new life first, understand what’s just happened. Only after he dealt with the problem, he can start taking action.

Quick Tip!
The second act is also the place where you should develop the relationships that were introduced to us in the first act. The act can also introduce to us other conflicts and sub-plots.  

Things to be careful in act 2:

Sometimes we get to attached to the protagonist and try to much to think like him. It is a good idea to start thinking from the antagonist a little bit, especially in this act. The antagonist is as important as the protagonist.

The second turning point

This is still the second act. By now, our hero knows what he is doing. He has a plan and he is working on it, but something just went wrong and his plans need to be changed. This stage takes most of the second act and it will include mostly obstacles to the protagonist. 

The third turning point

This is where the story really gets complicated and it looks like everything the hero have worked for is going down the drain. At this point, he has to make the biggest choice of his life so far. In a short film, this point should be the second turning point.
This is a very important moment because now we really get to know him.
A great third turning point is In the movie “Who framed Roger Rabbit”, this is where Edi understand he has to go inside toon town, the place where his brother got killed in if he wants to solve the case. For him, this is his biggest fear and while deciding that he also decides to stop drinking.

Quick tip on writing turning point:

When writing turning points always ask yourself if they are believable enough. There is a tendency with new writers to bring a turning point out of nowhere. Always do what you can to make them more believable. 

The Climax

This is where the hero faces the consequences of his last big choice. He has no choice but to face his biggest challenge. He has no way of turning back and he has to face it all. Again in movie “Who framed Roger Rabbit” (spoiler alert!!!!) this is where Edi meets the cartoonish character that killed his brother.

It’s nice to have a twist in the plot when you get to the climax. Think of all the possible situation your hero can get to at this point and try to eliminate the obvious ones. The more the conflict get complicated at the climax stage, the more your protagonist solution needs to be. When you are writing a climax with a big twist in the plot, make sure you’ve put enough clues to it throughout the story and that you used them wisely. When I say “used them wisely” I mean putting them in a way the audience will not notice at the time. Putting them in the high point of an action scene is a good example.

The ending

Now we have to see how our main character’s life has changed. The main conflict and the sub-conflicts should be solved by now.

These are the 3 acts story structure. When you are working on the second draft, you should make sure that there is a clear distinguish between all 3 acts. Especially when you feel something is not working in your story.




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The Story Conflict

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The Story Conflict

 story conflict definition

A story conflict is a gap between what someone wants or needs and the forces that prevent him from getting it. To build a story conflict, you need two forces that will work one against each other. It’s an elementary tool in every story that creates tension. The conflict will result at the end of the movie.

Why do we need the story conflict?

This is the most important part in writing a script. The conflict is the tool you use to help your main characters face their fears and all other emotional issues. By seeing how they react to the conflicts, we learn more about them and get to know them better. If a conflict reveals other sides of the characters that we didn’t know before, then our character is a good 3 dimensional one. It is also a tool that will help us to understand our story’s premise better

Types of story conflicts

There are 3 levels of conflicts you can use in your movie:

Inner conflict – Thew hero has a problem with himself and his morality. For example, the protagonist doesn’t want to rob a bank, but, on the other hand, he doesn’t have any money to feed his family. Fear and guilt can be good obstacles. Other good examples of inner conflicts can be sexual, religious, cultural and etc.
Inner conflict is considered to be the most powerful one. It helps us to feel empathy towards him.
Personal Conflict – This is an external conflict between the protagonist and a different character (or characters). The other character will be the antagonist. 
Universal/social – Protagonist is against something very big like a hurricane, the government, etc.

Sometimes the universal and personal conflicts will represent an inner conflict. Basically, what you need to remember is that a conflict is whatever that try to stop the protagonist from getting what he wants.

Finding out your story conflict and strengthening it

Identifying the main conflict in a movie can sometimes be a little tricky, but you have to do it or you won’t be able to get very far.
The main conflict should be summarized in one sentence: “The main conflict is between ___ and ____ (the opposing forces). If You have trouble to do that, then you need to investigate it.

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These are questions that will help you to strengthen your story conflict:

  • Who is our main character and what is her goal? The main character’s goal is really the first part of the conflict. What is it she is trying to achieve? You have to find what is the one thing they just have to get. This is going to be the fuel of your film so put some thoughts into it. It has to be something very strong. It has to be something that agrees with her beliefs and ideologies. Try to think even bigger and answer what is their goal for after the film end. What do they want to have 30 years from now?
  • The next question will be, what is stopping her from getting what she wants or need? There is a force that fights her. What is the motivation of this antagonist? Being a pure evil guy is not a good motive and if you are using an inner conflict and the antagonist is the protagonist’s fear of talking to strangers, it can’t be just because that’s the way she is. It has to have some kind of reason. Understanding that force will help you understand the obstacles that the protagonist need to go through. Make sure that this antagonist is equal in power to the protagonist. Nobody wants to see a fight between a lion and an ant- We know who will win right at the start.

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  • The third question is: What is at stake? If the protagonist won’t get what he wants, is there something he might lose? Is it something worth fighting for? Understanding what’s at stake is the answer to the question, why is it that our hero doesn’t give up?

Building a conflict up to the climax

We now agree that every good story needs a conflict, but your conflict needs to grow and develop throughout the film. The sooner you’ll bring in the conflict (as a very small one at the start), the better it will be for your movie. If you don’t want to start the conflict right at the beginning, it can also be good to insert some subtle clues and hints to the upcoming conflict. The conflict will grow with obstacles that get harder and harder to overcome into a point where everything that gained might be lost if the protagonist won’t win this last obstacle. That point is called Climax. The climax usually will reveal to us in what way the hero has changed.

Use conflict everywhere you can

Every scene needs to have a conflict in it and every time you show a conflict in a scene you need the audience to care about the outcome. After you set the goal of your character, try to see what is it she wants to achieve in every action she acts, in every scene. She may say to her daughter not to go to the party because it’s dangerous, but what she really wants might be for her daughter not to grow up so she will not feel the she is getting old. Look for the main character goal in everything she does and says and then look for what is the force that works against this small goal.

Tips for Directing Actors

Directing Actors

Directing actors is not easy. Especialy if you have a few main characters in one scene. You need to choreograph every one of them and to pay attention to each one of them during the scene. That is why many directors don’t like or even afraid from directing actors and want to focus more on the shooting part. Now, you may like it or not, but actors are one of the most important parts of your film and directing actors is in my opinion about 50% of directing, so you better learn how to deal with them

If a director can’t make an actor to understand how he sees the character, his all film vision might be damaged. Actors are the ones that bring life into your characters and into the lines of the script. If the actor is good, every face and movement he’ll do will be full of meanings just like every shot angle you choose to shoot. To get the best of your actors, you have to create, as a director, the best atmosphere that works for both of you.


Find your actor’s special gift

the first thing you need to do when you work with an actor is to find what is the unique element, that the actor can give to your character. Every good actor gets to bring something else. Some actors can bring authenticity, some can bring  comedy elements.

Find out what is your actor’s talent and use it.

Directing actors with respect

The director and actor have a unique relationship. The director is the watcher and the actor is the one being watched. That is something that puts the actor in a very vulnerable position. The actor is taking a big risk by taking the front line of the show. Just for taking that big of a risk for your movie, they deserve your respect.

A good actor will bring something personal from himself. If the actor is good he will expose very personal parts from his self  and that also makes him vulnerable. When you direct them, don’t be too harsh and watch what you are saying. Try to create a positive atmosphere. Instead of saying “Let’s do it again and this time doesn’t talk so fast”, you can say “Let’s do it again and this time tries to talk slower”.

Also, try to pay attention to all of the actors in the scene. As directors we tend to forget the small part characters, but they need attention and direction too, so watch out for that. 

Develop the character’s world together

Before you start to work with an actor of his character, you should know the character very well and its background. Introduce the actor to the world the character is living in. Think about the kind of movies or music the character likes. Have a paper with everything you know about your character and let the actor add his point of you, but make sure he stays in the world of the film.

What do actors need?

  • First of all, they need a director that know what he wants. There is nothing more frustrating for an actor then a director that is not sure. As we said, they are in a very vulnerable position and they need you to guide them. They need to know that you won’t quit on them until you’ll get what you need from them.
  • Also, help them get in the scene. It’s a good idea to remind them where their characters just came from. Prepare them as much as you can to the scene. Remind them everything they need to know about their character in the certain situation they are acting now.
  • When something doesn’t work for the actor try to find out what is it that creates the problem. it might be the scene itself, the dialogue or even the set. 

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Be clear with your directions

Don’t say stuff like “Do it funnier” or “You need to be scarier” This is a very general directing. You have to tell them how to act what you want. A good trick is to use metaphors. Let’s say your actor need to play a guy asking a girl on a date, you can tell him to act as if he is in a job interview.

Working with the actor on a scene

As the director, you must know the text very well before working on it with the actor. You have to know your viewpoint, but also to listen to his viewpoint. Often that kind of thing can spark a new idea. The main thing you and your actor need to do is to find what is the character motivation to every action she takes. What is she trying to get?

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Directing actors are also praising them sincerely 

Be very clear with your praises and try to use them in each direction you give. What I’m trying to say is that before you tell them how to fix their acting, tell them what they did right and then what you need them to do differently.

Be patient

With many actors, it might take some time to understand what you need and want from them. Be patient. You don’t need them to be more stressed than they already are.

Working with big time actors

Many directors get scared when they need to direct famous actors. The truth is that there’s nothing to be afraid of. The more experience the actor is, the more it will be easy for you to direct them. What you need to do is to let them do their thing and show them that it is important for you to make their performance look good. 

It’s OK to improvise

Personally, I enjoy the rehearsal stage the most. I like to let the actors improvise and see what they can give me each time we are working on a scene. If you let your actors improvise, you’ll be surprised at how many actors can give you good ideas you haven’t thought about. Sometimes improvising can also help the actor to really understand their character.

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These are some general tips for working with actors, I plan to post more articles about directing actors that will go deeper, so let me know if there is something that interest you the most.

The only exercise I can recommend you to do is to ask someone to direct you. Try to be an actor is someone film and see what it’s like. Try to see where he makes you feel bad and when he gives you good directing. I also recommend starting to read a little about acting. You can read books about acting or articles on the subject and interviews too.