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Making Movies With Actors Who Can’t Act

There are a lot of options for the no-budget film-maker these days. The progress made in consumer to ‘prosumer’ level cameras and editing systems over the last decade has made it theoretically possible for even the most cash-strapped film-maker to produce professional-quality and even marketable movies. Most no-budget film-makers will of course still produce amateur-quality and unsellable movies, but with enough ingenuity and resourcefulness, such an outcome is no longer inevitable. Nevertheless, one major obstacle still faces even the most efficient no-budget film-maker: actors who work for nothing usually can’t act. No matter how slick your production looks, if your performances are wooden and unconvincing, the whole project will die. So unless you’ve lucked out and gotten hold of some Oscar-worthy performers, you’re going to need a strategy to make every performance work.

Perhaps it’s misleading to say that actors who work for nothing – in most cases, your friends and acquaintances – can’t act. Most people can, given the right circumstances and guidance, act. If someone can do an impression of someone else, or tell a convincing lie as most people can, then they can act

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