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Working Effectively with Actors

Behind the Scenes of 'The Adviser' | Dir. Juhyun Pak

Learn how to work effectively with actors

This two-day workshop offers a practical approach for directors, producers and writers to better understand how to work effectively with actors. If you are timid about speaking with actors, doubtful of the language you should use to communicate your ideas, confused about how to approach a rehearsal and wondering how to create a safe workspace when dealing with difficult material, this course will give you the tools and confidence to get the best out of the time you have with your cast. It will give any producer, writer or director the tools to better identify the actor’s process and the language in which to engage in it.

Run by Nadia Townsend, a screen dramaturg who specialises in designing and facilitating rehearsals in collaboration with directors and producers and is renowned for her unique and practical approach to working with actors.

Learn how to communicate your ideas with actors in a clear and practical way and get tools for identifying and solving scene problems

Gain an understanding of the possibilities of the rehearsal process

Gain confidence in your ability to see clearly what the actor is doing and what they may need from you by learning when to step in and how to get out of the way

Is Working Effectively with Actors right for you?

A lot of filmmakers are intimidated by the idea of working with actors. In the same way that a director will have a disjointed and frustrating dialogue with their crew if their understanding of the processes of filming or their cinematic language is limited, filmmakers can also experience this with their actors. They spend years developing and pitching a project and when it comes to working with the most visible element of their screen project, the actor, they spend the least amount of time and just hope that it will all come together on the day. This course is designed to open up the possibilities for and the potential of the rehearsal room.

Course participants will be stepping into the acting process, working on small one-page scenes as a way of understanding first-hand the task they are asking of the actors. If the thought of stepping into a scene terrifies you, but you want to know how to work more effectively with actors, this course is essential. By doing practical exercises you will gain an understanding of what the actor goes through and better bridge the gap between the inside (acting) experience and the outside (director) experience.

As a participant, you’ll deepen and widen your scope for how to explore the nature of a scene, character relationships, dynamics and character engines.

This course is also designed to give you a pathway to create a healthy working environment and an ethical rehearsal practice.


If you are interested in more directing courses check out The Director’s Journey with Elissa Down, The Director’s Journey with Lucy Gaffy and the Directing Intensive.

If you are just starting out in your directing career check out Intro to Directing

Meet Your Tutor

Nadia Townsend

Nadia Townsend is a renowned screen dramaturg with a unique approach to rehearsals for film and television productions. Her practical…

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What you will need

Some filmmaking knowledge and experience is important to get the most from this course. You’ll need to come along ready to participate in practical exercises – so wear comfortable clothes and be open to some challenges.

Register your interest to stay up-to-date on future offerings, application or enrolment dates, and more information on this course.


This course is for students aged 18+ only.

If a student wishes to withdraw from a course, they may do so up to 15 days before the course commences and get a full refund. Cancellations 14 days or less before course commencement will incur a penalty.

AFTRS reserves the right to cancel any course for any reason at any time. In the event of a course being cancelled by AFTRS prior to commencement a 100% refund or credit note of the course fees paid will be provided.

Should AFTRS need to cancel a course after commencement, but before its completion, reasonable efforts will be made to reschedule. If rescheduling is not feasible, it is at AFTRS sole discretion to issue either full or partial credit notes depending on the circumstances.

AFTRS will make every effort to ensure the scheduled run of any course.

If you are planning to travel to attend a course, please confirm with AFTRS that the course is confirmed before you make your travel bookings. This decision is dependent on course enrolments meeting minimum numbers. AFTRS is not liable for any travel or accommodation costs incurred through course cancellation at any time for any reason.

Find out more information about discounts and refunds here.