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First time directing a short film?

Jason Lupish directing Jackson and Sacha on the set of Henrietta.

Directing a film for the first time can be quite intimidating, especially when it comes to working with actors. But with the right knowledge and preparation, you can ensure that your actors are confident and ready to help bring your vision to life. Here are some tips for young directors working with actors for the first time on a short film:


  1. Do your research: Before you begin shooting, make sure you research the actors you’re working with, as well as their characters in the film. This will help you better understand the roles they’re playing and how to direct them.

  2. Build trust: Spend time getting to know your actors and build a trusting relationship to ensure they are comfortable with you as a director. Show them that you respect their work and value their input by having discussions about their character. This will create an atmosphere of trust and collaboration.

  3. Respect their process: Everyone works differently, so give your actors the space and respect they need to find their characters and make choices.


  1. Create a relaxed atmosphere: Make sure the atmosphere on set is relaxed and positive. Keep conversations light and positive, and make sure your actors are comfortable.

  2. Communicate clearly: Be sure to provide clear direction to your actors and ensure they understand what you're asking of them.

  3. Block It First: When you arrive on set, take some time to go through the scene(s) you are filming. Your vision may have changed while writing the script, but now that you have actors and a real space to work with, the story can really come alive. Allow the actors to explore the scene without any distractions so that you can decide on the best way to tell the story from this point forward.

  4. Provide constructive feedback: It’s important to provide constructive feedback to your actors. Make sure you communicate clearly and give them feedback that will help them improve their performance.

  5. Focus on the story: At the end of the day, make sure you’re focusing on telling a great story. This should be your priority, and it should be reflected in all of your decisions as a director.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to work with actors confidently and make sure your short film is a success. Good luck!

1 Comment

Michael Krasnay
Michael Krasnay
Feb 12, 2023

I’m curious how directors can find what acting/directing relationships work in the audition room. Many times it’s natural - but sometimes you are unsure of how that relationship plays out until the first couple days of the production. Anyone have any tips?