Accuracy and Authenticity

During the last rehearsal for Delta Phi I told my actors that is is much more important for us to be authentic than accurate. (I’m reading Judith Weston’s The Film Director’s Intuition and it’s putting so many of my imaginative convictions to words that I’m finally feeling confident enough to teach in ways that I didn’t know I should be).

The point being here that the script is not the master of the film. The beats in the script, the pacing, the emotions making their tiny visits from parenthetical to parenthetical are there for one reason: to deliver a problem to the creative team.


This is the problem, the script says, here are the ingredients. And here are a set of emotional assumptions to help you understand the problem of the story.


Then the actors, the directors, the people involved; we get to solve the problem. It boggles my mind how much time director’s spend trying to find new ways of telling someone how to feel as opposed to helping them to feel. For an actor to be present in an imaginary circumstance, to watch him behave and react in the way that is most authentic to him, is all the magic of filmmaking.

That’s not to say that there aren’t certain premises the actor must follow; you have to give him a box to think outside of, as Ben Toalson might say. The box is comprised of character motivations. It’s far better to tell an actor why a character is doing something than to tell them how the character has to feel about it. Even the why, to some degree, can be left up to the actor’s imagination, just so long as you prompt them to activate it.

We have our first big shoot this weekend and are tackling some ambitious shots. My DP is new to the field and remarkably competent. I can only hope to make my team half as excited as I am about Delta Phi, and that would be more than enough. I suppose the best way to inspire others to care about something is to be obsessed with it yourself. Obsession is not such a bad thing, so long as your preoccupation doesn’t take you away from God. Obsession can be productive. Such domination of the mind for a singular concept or goal can make incite focus.