Gone Fishing was such a fun film to create, in part because of the chemistry between our actors and crew. The film featured one main character, Chris, who was played by sophomore Alex Hager. Alex had worked with Ian, our cinematographer, before, and Ian, Hannah and I all knew him well. Therefore, he was very easy to work with even though he does not have a lot of acting experience. Coming on set, we already had a relationship with Alex, so the time a director and crew would normally spend getting to know and actor and making him feel comfortable was not necessary for this project — Alex was already comfortable! This shaped how we worked with him on set: if we needed Alex to make an adjustment, we felt more comfortable telling him, and telling him in a casual way, than we may have felt with an actor we did not know. He was better at taking criticism because he knew us already and understood that nothing we said about his acting was personal. In the past, when I’ve directed other actors, I sometimes have struggled to word my direction so as not to offend the actors or critique their performance too harshly. This, of course, caused me to overcorrect, and sometimes I’ve felt that I didn’t get the performance I needed from an actor because I was so worried about offending them. That was not at all the case on the send of Gone Fishing; Alex was very understanding and took our direction well. I’m really happy with how the film came out, and especially happy with Alex’s performance.
I did a little bit of acting myself in this piece, which was fun as well. I found it easy to act in my cameo, not because I’m a phenomenal actor, but because I understood the tone of the piece, the characters and the plot before I even stepped foot on set. There wasn’t much of a learning curve for me, because I helped develop the script. The notes I needed were mainly from Ian, and were adjustments on where to stand. I thought it was a good experience to be directed by my peers and friends; even if I knew how they wanted me to perform before I acted on set, I got a better understanding of how actors may feel when I direct them. One thing I will say is that being organized, knowing exactly what you want from and actor and how to verbalize that, are really important qualities for a director to have. Especially if two people are co-directing, which happens a lot in student films from my experience, it’s really important for the director(s) to be on the same page about how they direct, and to be consistent in their direction. Overall, getting to be behind the camera as well as in front of it for this project was a really great experience, and I’m glad I had a chance to act (if only very briefly) in a student film.