Here’s some tips I’ve learned or stole from other directors.
Start on time. If you say something starts at noon. Start at noon, even if not everyone is there. People start to lose confidence in you and feel like your wasting their time if you start late. When the late person enters don’t stop anything until you’re done.
Subconsciously the actors are going to follow a fellow actor as a leader. You need to figure out who that is quickly and try to get them on your side. That actor will determine the culture of the other actors.
Give actors actions, not emotions. If you say, “be sadder” that’s a lousy note. Use action verbs.
Don’t give actors other fictional characters as inspiration. Then their performance is just a impersonation of a fictional character, they aren’t trying to be a real person. Give them real people.
For blocking, the first action that’s thought of is cliche. Don’t do that action. Think of something else.
Actions inform character, not just dialogue.
Avoid feeding needy actors. If an actor asks you to meet one-on-one later to talk about their performance or job their doing. Run away. They’re insecure and nothing you can say will help them, it might make things worse.
Make sure no one is giving actors notes besides from you. It confuses the actor one what they should be doing. It’s not a power thing. It’s a “we need to get this done thing” If you want to ask for other people’s opinion. Do it, but make sure you keep a handle on who gives the notes to the actors. Never, ever, ever, ever let another actor give a note directly to another actor. Ever.
Take the lunch break too. Drink lots of water.
Everyone loves coffee.
Don’t just have pizza and candy, feed people something healthy.
Play music when you’re setting up for a new scene.
Know you’re going to be asked a lot of questions and asked to make a lot of decisions.
Everything is going to go to hell by the middle so over prepare for the first day. An airplane falling 500 feet from 1000 ft is better than an airplane falling 500 feet when they’re only flying at 400 ft.
There’s two types of directors. Ones that focus on the shot and one that focus on the actors. Make sure you’re still paying attention to both.
When you say “we’ll go back and film it later” you never do.