What David Wenham hates as actor turned director

What should directors never do to actors? Just ask David Wenham, who went ahead and did it anyway.

2013-11-08_1149David Wenham now knows what it’s like on both sides of the camera, having in appeared in countless productions as an actor including Better Man, SeaChange and Top of the Lake.

Wenham directed Hugo Weaving and Josh McConville in a Tim Winton story for the film The Turning but soon found himself as Director doing the one thing he most hates as an Actor.

Yesterday he told the Australian Director’s Guild Conference in Sydney , “I could see when they were on slightly unstable footing. I could tell when they were absolutely flying and confident. I could read them like a book. Which was fantastic that I could read the signs.

“But one thing I did do, which irritates the hell out of me as an actor, and I found myself doing it only once to Hugo.

“And it’s this: when we’re in rehearsal talk as much as you like, but when you’re actually shooting, at the end of a take if the director wants to go again, in terms of direction I love a very quick, succinct, sharp direction. So we go as quick as possible into the next take.

“It’s the thing that kills me as an actor. There’s too much time to exist between one take and the next.

“I’m so hyper-aware of everything that’s going on, even if it’s a technical thing and the light needs to be moved. If the light’s moved and the First Asst. Director isn’t calling it to go into the next thing, or I can see people drifting off … it annoys me. I want to be kept in the zone.

“Otherwise it’s like going back to square one to start up again. Direction from the director shouldn’t be a long-winded conversation at this point. At previous rehearsals, talk till the cows come home. But once you’re actually engaging an actor on set, just a few simple words.

“I found myself once with Hugo doing what I hated. I started to explain…. and he said ‘Yes, fine got it!’ I suddenly realised I’d become a director.”

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