View Full Version : Problems with Main actor

12-01-2004, 04:05 PM
You guys are always so helpful to people...
Here's my story...
So we ask for a little time from an actor, to shoot a short film, non paying gig, and he agrees...

A little time becomes a REAL long time, because on shooting days he doesn't show up, shows up late, doesn't schedule off from work, goes on vacation...etc.

Now we're 70% done, but we're having a hard time getting him to finish it.

It's a really hard movie to film and we've had many problems...but I'm at a point now, where I don't want to work with him further, due to his attitude in the past, and a fear that we might not finish by our deadline...
He also just got braces...so we're going to have to film around that too...

My co-director is really upset by me even mentioning it, but even though I'm starting over, I might get it done and better that before...

So I'd like to ask you here, because I'm sure each and everyone one of you has gone through something horrible too!

Thanks, Please vote or give opinion!

12-01-2004, 05:52 PM
OK I have been an actor for a long time and DV shootist for a short time, but hereís my take, not only should you fire him but you should have done so along time ago.

Sure you have to give some allowance for the fact that your not paying him, but at the same time he is costing you money.

If you can afford the time/effort/money to reshoot then you should probably do it, from your description he is not interested in finishing the film with you, he has changed his appearance, it will be a labor just to get him to finish with you and then you will be throwing good effort after bad.

Will it look good if you finish with him? Cause if it doesnít your wasting your time and the time of your crew. All those people are depending on you to put out a decent product that will reflect well on them. Your major responsibility lies with all the other people who are working for free. If your actor cant respect you, and cant respect them, then why is he still around?

Sorry, as I said Iíve been an actor for along time, and I consider myself a very actor oriented director, but this kind of unprofessional behavior from other actors tends to get my goat. Which is why I like using the ones who show up on time, and I donít like using the ones who donít.

12-01-2004, 08:00 PM
You're completely right, but having to start over will completely infuriate my co-director, he is 100% against it...

Thanks for your feedback.

J.R. Hudson
12-01-2004, 09:30 PM
Fire him and start over; learn from anything that went bad or didnt work and make another film better than the first.

12-01-2004, 09:37 PM
Boot him out. Learn 2 lessons from this, one about the actor, and one about having a co-director.

Co-Directing never ever EVER works.


Jim Brennan
12-01-2004, 10:18 PM
NO really TC, how do you feel about that? DOn't hold back.

It's a tough choice, but mitigated by the fact that he may be hurting the film. Ask yourself what is best for your original vision of the project. If you think you can finish it, and can be as good as you planned, you might want to grit your teeth and do it. Sometimes the real work of being the boss is making things work. I would assume that you've had a few heart to hearts with the guy, so he knows where you stand, but if you haven't, I'd spell it out for him.

If you think that the film won't be as good as it could because of him, cut your losses and start over. Look at it as a practice run. That's something most of us don't get to do with a project. There are probably a bunch of things you would do differently if you could do it again.

12-01-2004, 10:23 PM
NO really TC, how do you feel about that? *DOn't hold back.
I've never done it, but I've seen SO many people get bitten in the ass, and so many shorts ruined due to differences.

J.R. Hudson
12-01-2004, 10:38 PM
I will never CO DIRECT with someone. Collaborate is one thing but if Im Directing then get the flock out of the way

12-01-2004, 11:28 PM
"I will never CO DIRECT"

Well, I guess I learned that the hard way. Thanks for the advice.

12-02-2004, 01:32 AM
Sometimes that's the only way to learn. I know that's how I normally gain my knowledge.

12-02-2004, 01:44 AM
Do what I, treathen to kill to dude. I guarantee you'll get a oscar performance. Seriously, just hire someone to kill him. Joking.

First of all are you happy with what the movie looks like so far? If not fire his ass! But if you do and you think this movie has potential the just deal with the bastid. We had a guy with same problem, and we just dealt with him. Trust me that was the last time we ever worked with this guy. Plus the dude had a bad oder. My 1 dollar foodstamp.

12-02-2004, 12:32 PM
Just tell him it's alright that he doesn't want to do it because you're already collaborating on the next film that stars his girlfriend. It's called 'Hard Time Between the Thighs'.

Btw: Make sure you have medical first...

12-02-2004, 12:48 PM
Find another actor who looks a whole lot like him.

Then write a car-accident scene.

Oh, hell. Make it really interesting. Find an actress who looks like him and do the whole Christine Jorgensen thing. :)


12-02-2004, 01:41 PM
Find another actor who looks a whole lot like him.

Then write a car-accident scene.

Oh, hell. Make it really interesting. Find an actress who looks like him and do the whole Christine Jorgensen thing.


Youre too crazy man! Thats funny! Car-accident scene! classic..

12-02-2004, 04:01 PM
Okay, I voted to "Deal with it" before I realized that you had a post explaining your dilemma. Having read your situation, I say you can him.

I'll mitigate that in this way only: I don't like to fire people (or anything similar) without telling them why they have a problem, because I like people to have a chance to grow. So if I'd been you, I'd have told him some time ago what his problem was and given him the ultimatum: shape up or get off my set. Then later I'd have fired him if he didn't improve.

But since you didn't do that, it's a little late. Fire this loser.

12-02-2004, 04:14 PM
Youre too crazy man! Thats funny! Car-accident scene! classic..


Depending on the story, and how things have been shot so far....something like can work. Accident, bar fight to account for "bruises" and such, illness for a voice change...

If the film has been shot linearly, so the ending isn't done yet, that's pretty much the only way to get away with replacing an actor.

If all the major points have been covered with the original actor...that's a whole kettle of different-colored fish.

Then you have to play with the remaining shots so the replacement isn't readily recognizable as someone else.

What the heck. Brandon Lee died during the filming of his last. They faked the missing scenes with a stand-in, right?

It can be done.


12-06-2004, 10:50 AM
Sorry if I offend any actors on here, but actors are a dime a dozen, especially if your in LA.

If no-name actors don't give it their all even working for free then they are a waste of your time. There are tons of talented, super hard working actors out there giving it their all to break into the business. Might as well use them and forget the slackers. Use the "paying your dues" process to your advantage!

I never ever hesitated firing an actor in my low-budget days. It's a stress you don't need. Life is too short for slackers, especially in this business.

12-07-2004, 12:05 AM
no argument here.

12-07-2004, 09:14 PM
FHA no doubt about it!

No, not Federal Housing Authority, rather, Fire His Ass. Capital A, double S. 8)

12-08-2004, 08:27 AM
hey. i was in this same spot on a feature a few years ago. We shot for a year with an actor who really strung us along. we got to a point where it was like pulling teeth. i was in the mindset that we HAD TO FINISH. But once i started thinking about reshooting i thought about how much i could do better.

We had a production meeting and i have never seen people so furious. My DP was very angry becasue he had committed so much time and would not be able to on a new shoot. If we were goign to scrap it we had 8 weeks to recast, rewrite, book all of our locations again, etc.

So, i made the call. We dropped him. the BEST desicion i ever made. the film turned out so much better the second time - it was shot better, we understood sound a little more. We changed some locations and improved some dialog.

If someone is not committed it hurts more than your schedule. their performance will have no heart, and your film will be souless. You have to think of it this way: A lot of people want to make films, a lot would limp a long or scrap it all together, but not as many would do it right. someone once tld me that with film it is not enough to just do it. Everything has to be doen to the best o fyour ability and this guy is not giving you that.

had the smae problem again this summer. Started shooting a feature and realized my lead was not as strong as he had been in rehearsals. I wanted to keep shooting but after showing a lot of people footage they all agreed - my footage was very strong EXCEPT for him. It was a really painful call and took me a month to decide, but i dropped him. It ended up being great because i could work further on the script, my actors are well rehearsed now, and will be stronger in the long run.

I cna understand your co-dir being angry, but if he wants what is best, he'll understand. Good luck man.

My sites are a mess right now, but you can check out stuff from my first film at www.stationhousefilms.com/dustwords and the new film at www.stationhousefilms.com/thenyp

take care.

12-08-2004, 02:06 PM
I checked out your page Tom..Looks good. Although I was looking forward to seeing the production photos, but the link didn't work.

12-13-2004, 03:30 PM
thanks for the compliment. yeah my site is a mess now. i had to change servers, and unfortunately, my drive at home had to be reformatted and i have not been able to reinstall dreamweaver yet. i hope to soon...take care

12-16-2004, 12:59 PM
Just letting you know I voted to not only fire him, but to write your next movie about him.

Hey, so long as you have your 'All persons...purely coincidental' disclaimer in there, you can make his character do annnnythinnnng you want...

01-11-2005, 07:02 AM
Yep, it's not worth having a film that nobody's happy with, for the sake of finishing. For somebody who's been such a pain, the last thing he desrves is for his behaviour and attitude to ruin your film. I voted for letting him go.

I understand your co-director's frustration, but it really does make sense, especially when so much time and effort is invested in it. It's not worth ruining the return.

If he has a nice twin brother who can act, use him. If you have script control, write around him. Then you won't have to start over from scratch or find a substitute. Change the story dramatically if you have to, as long as it's a good story and it works, that's all that matters in the end.


01-12-2005, 05:34 AM
I would be patient... and somehow have him complete the project. Even though he had agreed to work for free... it does not give him the right to leave or screw the project mid-way. I would even consider legal action if u can prove that the cost of the delay is hurting the project... and he'll get back to completing the project.

Starting all over again is a bigger risk because the next actor could also follow the same pattern. Plus what about other actors? They wouldn't have the motivation to participate as well as they did the first time... That goes for the crew as well.
So patience.. smiles... some coaxing/coercion, get the project done. And then screw the guy by telling every1 u know to never work with him again.

01-14-2005, 01:02 PM
I had the same situation with my lead actreess. I did not fire her and keep shooting. I started loosing joy and energy every day. I started waking up (before shoot) and feeling I HATE THIS SHIT.
Than I decided to tell her what I feel. She said she doestn like the way I work and she said she is leaving the project.

I felt good. She is leaving. I had to say sorry to the rest of the crew. It was 3 months ago. It was 3 days to go when she left - i have 20 tapes ... but decided to recast the movie in the spring 2005 and shoot it this time 10 days straight (weekends dont work - people dont show up, come late etc) with the crew who will sign the contract.


We are doing it cos we LOVE IT.
Filmmaking is not a factory job you hate.
IS it?

01-14-2005, 01:03 PM
You see, I gave you this speech about LOVE and FILMMAKING and I BECAME GOLD MEMEBER !

So, I must be right. Right?


02-09-2005, 05:39 AM
it's true man. if you don't love it, it shows. you'll always have times when you are pissed off though - it seems to be the filmmaker's lot in life. and i guess it depends if they are doing a good job or not.

02-10-2005, 10:22 AM
How short is the film? I say dump him and be thankful you weren't shooting a feature.

03-09-2005, 06:02 PM
Hey just took notice of how good everyone's advice has been to this gentleman. I think making low budget movies is one of the biggest joys in my life, but man is it a joint effort. Now I love collaborating, I love the idea that all these people work on these different little aspects to finally make one great whole, but like anything else, one kid can make the whole class suffer. Some just get the class yelled at, others get you detentions. Just from what I've been through, I've worked with so many great people, and I know alot of other great people making their own films with their own assorted set of great people, lots of greatness Is there to be mined in the indie community. Which means for tough actors and people so full of themselves that they can begin to ruin a film, that they can easily be replaced, and almost always, always to the the greater good of your picture. Thats just my 2 cents. Best of luck to everyone.

03-10-2005, 02:19 PM
Fire his flakey ass already!!! Filmaking is a TIME (and money) consuming hobby, and apparently, his time is obviously more important than your project or being a star. First no-show, shame on him; Second no-show, shame on YOU. Not sure if burying him in another movie is the way to go, since you're actually giving him more of your time again, just in a different way. I think word of mouth of his rep will bury himself. And for what your Co-Director thinks--IT DOESNT MATTER WHAT HE THINKS!!! No offense, but you can't have 2 captains on a ship. On top of that, you're both robbing each other of the learning experience of being in total command and getting one true vision across in the story.

Hope all goes well the 2nd time around!

03-17-2005, 03:17 PM
Okay, this is a story about my first feature film as a (paid) director. Yeah right. I was paid $2000 in total, but that's another story.

Anyway, this is your averge kung fu chop socky film, made in Hong Kong, right, and my producer tells me to shoot the entire thing in sequence. I mean first scene first, second scene second, etc.

And I go "are you sure? don't we have little enough money as it is?"
And he goes "trust me..."
And so he's the boss, we start shooting.

Halfway through the three week shoot our lead actor goes "righto, you've got half the film in the can, I want thus and such money right now or else."

Producer doesn't even wait for the "or else", he goes immediately:" you're fired. Get out of here. Now."

I am stunned. Floored would be a better word.

I know this isn't big megabucks we're talking about here, but it is a 35mm feature film and it is halfway in the can...

well the upshoot is this:

James Bong our intrepid hero meets the girl, gets her in bed, the bad guys some sneaking in on them in the middle of the night, there's a colossal fight (it's dark, it has to be colossal, right?) ...

.. and next morning our girl wakes up, sits up with a start, pulls the sheets up 'cause there's this new guy standing there looking cool and cocky.

"what's this?" asks our girl. "who are you?"

"Oh, James Bong was called out to another assignment. I'm James Wing. I'm taking over"

and he kisses her....
and carries on to tne end of the movie.

and did anybody in the audience notice?

sure they did!
they loved it!

just goes to show...
(exactly what, I still don't know)

03-18-2005, 06:15 AM
You Should Have Paid Him $20 A Day And Made Him Sign A Contract. Once Money Is Exchanged It Makes Things More Serious. Then You Could Of Threatened To Sue The Bastard. Teach The Asshole A Lesson. Plus I Dont Believe In Shooting A Film Over Nights And Weekends. Pay People And Shoot It In A Few Days In A Row.

03-20-2005, 11:50 AM
I had the same problem. The lead actress started behaving just like the guy from your project. I didnt fire him thinking that the most important is to finish the project. So, every day it was worse. Finally when I asked her to "behave" and focus for a few more days (we had actually3 days to go with our feature) she...said that "i crossed the line" and she cant work with like this. She quit. Afer two months she met me and wanted to finish the project. But this time I was actually ready to reshoot the movie. So I said: no thanks.
Fire her. And dont codirect. Two guys leading the team is one too many.

04-24-2005, 04:04 AM
If he hasn't responded to a heart to heart then fire him.

Assuming everyone else involved is fine to work with, chances are if you get a replacement willing to be professional in their attitude, you'll be able to finish a reshoot in record time because everyone will be working to the best of their abilities and enjoying the experience, and SO relieved they are no longer working with a self-obsessed amateur.

I'm sure that this one slacker will be causing a poisonous atmosphere on set, and his replacement will lift a huge weight off everyone's shoulders.

Also if you mention to the replacement that you sacked his predecessor, it will concentrate their mind wonderfully!

There are very few successful co-directors out there - most of them only work because they are on exactly the same wavelength, or instead have complementary skills which don't conflict. Otherwise the best you can hope for is taking twice as long to make decisions because everything has to be discussed at length first.

If your co-director is still resistant, may be worth DISCREETLY canvassing opinion from the rest of the cast and crew. If they are all behind the decision to sack the actor, your co-director will have to agree.

Good luck.