Selecting a directional methodology for a creative practice film

Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Details

Published Version.

Sergi, M. (2010). Selecting a directional methodology for a creative practice film. Paper presented at the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) conference 2010: Media, democracy and change, Canberra, Australia.

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2010 HERDC submission. FoR Code: 190200

© Copyright Michael Sergi, 2010




An actor’s performance, as it appears on screen, is unstable. The viewing audience has no way of knowing to what extent the performance was the actor’s creation in front of the camera when the scene was filmed, or re-constructed, by the editor and director, in post-production. Editors will often describe how they took a look from this take, a sentence from that take, a reaction from yet another take, and then had the actor ADR (automated dialogue replacement) that line that had a slight word stumble in it (Seger, 1994; Rosenblum, 1979; Travis, 2002; Bare, 2000; Proferes, 2008). However, when exploring how directors read an actor’s performance is the central thesis of a doctoral exegesis, as it was in my case, then it is vital that the actor’s performance is captured in such a way that it remains as stable, and un-recreated, as possible. Only then can a director claim to have read the actor’s performance when it was created and recognised it as being satisfactory. Otherwise, it would not be possible to know whether it was the director, the editor or the producer who truly was able to distinguish the quality of the actor’s performance. In order to achieve this, I had to select a directorial methodology that would enable me to capture the actor’s performance in such a way that I could begin to understand how a director reads an actor’s performance on set. I would then be able to present that same unaltered performance for examination and peer review. In Figures traced in light: On cinematic staging (2005), Bordwell undertakes a close examination of the directorial methodology of Greek director Theo Angelopolous and Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi: two exceptional proponents of the long-take mise-en-scéne shooting style. In Notes: On the making of Apocalypse Now (1993), Eleanor Coppola describes a similar directorial methodology used by Francis Ford Coppola. And in Sherman’s Directing the film: Film directors on their art (1976) other notable directors describe similar methodologies. This paper sets out the directorial methodology used in the production of the film Gingerbread Men, the creative component of my Doctorate of Creative Arts, and describes how that methodology is grounded in the work of significant directors.



This document has been peer reviewed.