Save TimeIt may sound like an oxymoron, but as a director spending time can save you time. Spending time in the beginning, during rehearsals will save you time on the set.

One of my favourite quotes about a director’s usage of time:

“When a light bulb has burned out, you take the time to change it. If an actor is burning out, why not take ten minutes?”

Actress Karen Black once said about the 1970 film, “Five Easy Pieces” was that the reason all of the actors performed so well was because the director gave them the time to be good. If the director has time limitations, the actors can feel that, even if he doesn’t come out and say it. Karen remembers a time when her director spent an hour on the side of the road whether or not her character would say a specific line at the end of the movie. Watch the end of the move and you’ll see that the time was well spent.

There are no short cuts, it’s a rule that’s worth learning when you’re a young director, just starting out. Look at a pianist learning a new piece. Even the most experienced piano player will play the piece slow to learn it. No pianist worth his salt would ever try to learn a new piece by playing it over and over at full speed. She would play it slowly at first to learn the fingering, then to allow the subtle subtext to appear. That subtext is what allows her to play the piece with feeling.

If you work slowly during rehearsal, it will help you and your actors work faster on the set. Spending the time in the early stages, giving the attention to your actors and making them feel like they are important, will pay off in the long run. When time is short later on, they’ll pay you back later, working with you, sacrificing for you to make sure that the job gets done within the budgeted time. They’ll know that you need to get this done, that you’re not just saying it and they will work hard for you.

One common question I hear is about actors with small roles that take up a lot of time. I suggest giving them fifteen minutes of your time, listening to them and their concerns. It will allow them to relax and more importantly, leave you alone.

If you’re just starting out, you probably have more time than money. It’s a blessing. Luckily, when you’re learning how to rehearse, time is more valuable than money. A young director should spend time with actors, hanging out with them, doing workshops with them, learning rehearsal techniques together. Time invested now, will pay off with interest in the future.

Remember, if you don’t have the money, spend the time.