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SXSW Film 2014

Austin Filmmakers on Working with Actors

Independent filmmakers have a special relationship with actors. They can be their bosses, their peers, their friends, their family. Sometimes filmmakers are even actors themselves.
This panel will bring together four award-winning independent filmmakers who helped establish Austin's internationally-recognized filmmaking community: Andrew Bujalski (Computer Chess, Beeswax, Funny Ha Ha), Kat Candler (Hellion, Jumping Off Bridges, Cicadas), Todd Rohal (The Catechism Cateclysm, The Guatemalan Handshake) and David Zellner (Kid Thing, Goliath). These directors will talk about their unique experiences and perspectives on working with actors.
If we have time, you may get to find out what they would be doing with their lives if not making films, the names of their cats, and if they've ever been in a fist fight. But no promises.

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  1. You all start by writing a script. Do you write with specific actors in mind? How does the script generally evolve for you? Is improvisation part of the process? Tell us about a script change that was driven by the actors you chose.
  2. Indie film is fertile ground to tell stories that are more edgy and don’t adhere to type casting. Can you talk about diversity in your casting or casting unlikely characters? What were the kinds of stories that brought you to independent filmmaking?
  3. Since there isn’t a lot of money for indie films and the time to shoot is often short, how do you prep your actors? Do you talk on the phone? Do you drink coffee together and talk about character? Or do the actors have to do the prep on their own and hope that it is in line with what you want?
  4. Indie film is a great place to discover new talent. Can you tell us about an actor you cast who you took a risk on and why? What struck you about that person? Did you audition others?
  5. You all hold multiple credits on IMDb as directors/writers/producers/actors. What is it like to wear so many hats? How do you switch from one role to another? For those who have acted in their own films, what is it like when you watch the takes? Have your experiences acting influenced the way you direct?



Caroline OConnor, Communications Director, Screen Actors Guild Foundation

Meta Information:

  • Event: Film
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Case Study
  • Level: Beginning
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