Thespioprudence : Australian film directors and Film performance

Nugent-Williams, Rosalind Louise (2004) Thespioprudence : Australian film directors and Film performance. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


"...we, directors and actors, put into practice the practice - we don't practice the theory. I think that if there is no theory of acting, at least there are theoretical laws that we may find, curiously enough, in all traditions of acting. It is true that the term "theory of acting" does not seem fundamentally wrong, but it seems always somewhat imperialistic and pretentious. I prefer to use fundamental laws which we sometimes know but then sometimes lose and forget. It is only practice that all of a sudden can make law or tradition rise to the surface. I will not say then that there is no theory of acting; on the contrary, there have been many of them. Of course, what interests me in these multiple theories are the essential laws that are common to all of them."

  • Ariane Mnouchkine

(from "Building Up the Muscle" in Re:direction edited by R. Schneider and G. Cody, Routledge, London, 2002.)

I come to filmmaking from an actor's perspective and believe that the power of each individual performance is the key to audience engagement with a feature film. The technical aspects of filmmaking, for me, exist primarily to serve the story as revealed through the actors' performances. Because performance in film has been a neglected area of research, I set out to explore the different approaches to performance theory which might apply to film performance in an Australian context. In this dissertation, I have asked a number of key questions about how the director communicates with the actor to elicit the desired performance. I framed this thesis around one overarching question: What is the dominant approach used by Australian film directors when working with actors on performance?

This study reveals that many Australian filmmakers have been most influenced by a wide variety of approaches to working with actors, particularly because of the way actors are trained in Australia.

My interest in this project was partially triggered by my observation that many filmmaking students at QUT seem driven by the technical aspects of filmmaking. Given the complex demands made on actors, filmmakers who do not learn to speak the actor's language arguably fail to capitalize on their working relationships with actors. I have attempted to express my findings in plain English because the whole purpose of this project was to ensure that my findings would be of use to new filmmakers in a practical sense.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 15999
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Yeates, Helen
Keywords: Thespioprudence, Australian film, directors, film performance, film, actors, 'theory of acting', filmmaking, acting
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Disciplines > Film & Television
Department: Faculty of Creative Industries
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Rosalind Louise Nugent-Williams
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:54
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:41

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