What is Result Directing and Why You Should Avoid It


There are movies where the actor’s performance is so artificial, it made the movie boring, predictable and unwatchable. There are also movies where the actor performed so naturally, you wonder if the actor actually had a real-world experience that he/she is bringing to the role. More often than not, the reason for bad acting on screen is Result Directiing.

Credit: Lux

What is Result Directing?

It means the director of a movie getting the actors to perform by describing the result he/she is after. For example, a director telling an actor, can you be a bit angrier, can you give it more energy, tone it down, or enter the room with more menace.

Actors act without thinking about how their emotions will affect their performance. They don’t think about how their emotions or behavior will appear on camera. It’s a natural instinct. Giving an end goal result will do more damage than good to the actor. What it does is to make the actor find a way to make it work with the end result in mind. It becomes vague, general, directionless and the actor begins to wonder what he is doing. It ends up becoming a guessing game between the actor and director.

Now the actor becomes more self-aware and watches his performance. He has to look for a way to act the way the director wants. Most times, in an effort for him to look more serious, angry or sad, the reverse is usually the case. He ends up looking funny or happy. This is because he’s more concentrated on delivering the result rather than acting out in a natural way. Actors especially the new ones in the industry don’t end up reaching their full potential. They work with one too many result oriented directors.

There are alternative ways directors can get actors to act the way they want. The preferred alternative is by offering the actor a “playable direction”.

Playable Direction

What this means for the director is describing results which are “playable” to the actor. He can use facts, events, verbs, objectives etc. to describe instructions. For example, instead of asking the actor to be angrier, the director can ask him to act as though someone else maltreated or punished him. This brings a genuine and natural performance from the actor.

The relationship that exists between a director and an actor is so critical. Result directing can go a long way in damaging such relationship. The bottom line is directors have to cultivate the habit of talking to their actors. There must be a connection. This allows them to understand each other better. The actors will also know what to expect from the directors.

Some actors may think that result-oriented direction is what they need. But in the real sense, it affects their performance. They are unable to achieve the full potential of what that movie role might have provided.

As for directors, take a step back, see things from the perspective of the actors. Work together to make that movie a success!

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