Why You Should Maybe Not Show Actors Their Work

When a group intends to function as a repertory company, as Fassbinder’s did in his early films, the cycle of performance and critical viewing can get actors past the stage of horrid fascination with their own image, and working instead on the places where their resistances and growth lie. This is a long process. It needs a committed, resident cast and a trusted director: without these conditions it is unlikely to be productive. Once you start final shooting it is usually a bad idea to let the cast see themselves until the shoot is complete. This is because:

  • People are normally appalled to see themselves onscreen and this feeds their insecurities.
  • Anticipating the judgment of other cast members makes staying inside their own characters’ thoughts and experiences harder.
  • Actors who depended on your judgment may now apply their own corrective actions, giving you new problems.
  • Untrusting actors—often those who think themselves superior in reputation—may begin directing not only themselves but each other.

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