Judith Weston

Studio For Actors And Directors

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Directors Rehearsal Intensive

This hands-on workshop gives directors invaluable tools for rehearsal, for casting sessions, for giving direction on set between takes, and for your script analysis preparation. 

"Judith's method is wonderful because it is practical. She has given me numerous tools to solve problems on the set and to earn the trust of actors. Her classes and her book are invaluable resources to any director." - LAWRENCE TRILLING, director, MASTERS OF SEX, PARENTHOOD, PUSHING DAISIES, DAMAGES, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, NIP/TUCK, MONK, SCRUBS, INVASION, ALIAS, FELICITY

Athletes and musicians all maintain a training regime whether or not they are working – but there are very few opportunities for directors to develop and maintain their “chops” in between jobs. Understanding the tools and rhythms of rehearsal is your ticket to greater freedom and creativity with actors on the set. 

Judith has been described by her students as “the House M.D. of emotional life,” with the ability to discover the emotional core of scripts in any genre. But she also addresses blocking, a central responsibility of the director, giving directors tools to solve scenes with physical movement and activities. She guides directors in communicating blocking ideas to actors organically, so actors can stay in the moment and not looked “rehearsed.”

“Judith Weston taught me how to listen—what she called ‘listening with your whole body.’  She taught me about the power and the magic of the subconscious world.  She showed me doors and windows and portals into creative possibilities I scarcely knew existed.  Her wisdom changed the way I write, the way I direct actors—and, with no exaggeration, the way I look at life.”  - MARK FERGUS, co-writer: CHILDREN OF MEN, IRON MAN; director: FIRST SNOW

Gain confidence in your ability to communicate your passion to your actors. Make a deeper emotional connection to your project. Find your courage to engage with actors. Earn their trust. Practice and develop your instinct for when to step in and when to step back.

This is an advanced, intense, intimate workshop for filmmakers, limited to six to eight directors. For schedule and pricing visit Workshop Schedule.

The Course

In the Rehearsal Intensive workshop, all the rehearsal is conducted in the class. The directors work with actors in front of Judith. This way Judith can give first-hand, detailed feedback on how the director is communicating with the actors, and whether the director’s vision for the script is being effectively articulated and brought into life. You also get to observe the other directors working with actors—an invaluable source of inspiration and new ideas.

You make your own choice of a script to work on. It can be full-length or a short. Many directors use material from the project they are preparing to direct. It is also fine to use an already-produced script that you want to practice on.

You cast your scenes with actors of your own choice. 

Your skills and confidence when working with actors will expand dramatically. The tools and principles hold for all professional situations—casting, rehearsal, and on the set, even when there is no time for formal rehearsal.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, directors need to keep a regular practice with their craft. The benefits of continued participation in the Rehearsal Intensive go beyond a one-shot injection of insight and excitement. Getting at the emotional truth of scripts and performances changes you. It's a work-out. Every time you take this class you will gain confidence in your intuition.  

The Intensive offers:

  • Preparation and practice for casting sessions
  • Preparation and practice for rehearsal
  • Preparation and practice for giving direction between takes on set
  • Breakdown of your vision to communicate more intimately to actors
  • Keeping your directorial commitment to vision, story, and tone—without shutting actors down
  • Demonstration of improv and warm-up exercises
  • Scene-shaping – making the scene work with blocking (movement and activities) and pace
  • Going deeper and clearer with your script analysis and preparation

The Schedule

  • Session One: I will do a demonstration of script analysis and a demonstration rehearsal from a script that I will pick and ask you to read before the class.
  • Sessions Two, Three and Four: Each director has two hours to rehearse with two actors, with the rest of the class observing. The director works uninterrupted for the first hour. Then the actors step out of the room while I speak with the director for 15-20 minutes. Then the actors return and the director again works uninterrupted. At about 10 minutes before the end of the session I step in and work with the director and the actors. (2 directors work in each 4.5-hour session.)
  • Sessions Five and Six: Each director has one hour to rehearse with two actors, and the rest of the class observing. The director works uninterrupted for the first half hour. Then the actors step out of the room while I speak with the director for 10 minutes. Then the actors return and the director again works uninterrupted. At about 10 minutes before the end of the session I step in and work with the director and the actors. (In each 4.5-hour session, 3 directors work, plus there is an hour at the end to discuss the spines of the characters.)

The Script

Each director will be working from a script of his or her choice. It can be any script. It can be feature-length, or short. It can be an original script that you are preparing to direct, or it can be an already-produced script that you want to practice on. You will work on two scenes from one script. I will ask you to provide me, by the first class meeting, the following:

  • A full script
  • A synopsis
  • The two scenes you wish to workshop
  • Copies of the synopsis and scenes for the rest of the class

Casting

You do the casting, and make the arrangements for the actors for your scenes. You can choose any actors you wish—they can be the actors who are going to be in the film, or not. They do not have to be actors from my studio, but if you wish you can have me forward your casting notice to actors from my studio (see Casting Announcements for details).

There is no cost to the actors for participating in this workshop. It will be up to you to provide the actors with a script, and have them read the full script and learn the lines to their scene. You are not restricted to two-person scenes (although they are easier to set up). You can have the same actors for both of your scenes, or different actors, whatever you wish.

Requirements

This workshop is designed for people who have already taken a course with Judith, usually the Acting for Directors workshop. There can be exceptions to this policy, in particular for directors with an acting background. If you wish to take the Directors Rehearsal Intensive and have not already taken a course with Judith, an interview (in person or via skype) will need to be scheduled.

It is a requirement to have read one of Judith’s books – Directing Actors, or The Film Director’s Intuition.

For schedule and pricing visit Workshop Schedule.

A deposit of $300 is required to hold your place; the remainder is due at the first class meeting. The deposit is non-refundable; if you cancel, and we can fill your space from the wait list, the deposit can be rolled over to the next available workshop, within one year.

 

This workshop is designed for people who have already taken a course with Judith, usually the Acting for Directors workshop. There can be exceptions to this policy, in particular for directors with an acting background. If you wish to take the Directors Rehearsal Intensive and have not already taken a course with Judith, an interview (in person or via skype) will need to be scheduled.

  • "Judith taught me how to communicate with actors in a completely new way, and what I learned from her has had a huge influence over both my work and my life. She is an incredible communicator, a gifted teacher, and a remarkable human being. I can't recommend her classes highly enough for directors and actors who want to bring more emotional truth to their craft."

    JULIUS RAMSAY, director, THE WALKING DEAD
  • "All the scary transformative moments I've had in your class really paid off. And I can never begin to thank you for all that you've done for me. I'm simply not the same person I was when I started my journey with you."

    ANDREA TOYIAS, Voice Director, Blizzard Entertainment, WORLD OF WARCRAFT / DIABLO / STARCRAFT
  • “I really wanted to thank you because I know that I could have not done it without the knowledge I got from you. You will always be one of the greatest teachers I've ever had and I'm truly proud to be one of your students. Thank you for teaching me to love my actors.”

    TANEL TOOM, writer-director, THE CONFESSION (nominated for Academy Award, Live Action Short Film, 2011)
  • “I took a seminar with an acting teacher named Judith Weston. I learned a key insight to character. She believed that all well-drawn characters have a spine, and the idea is that the character has an inner motor, a dominant, unconscious goal that they’re striving for, an itch that they can’t scratch. I took to this like a duck to water.”

    ANDREW STANTON [from his Feb 2012 TED Talk] writer-director, WALL-E, FINDING NEMO, A BUG’S LIFE; writer, TOY STORY, TOY STORY 2, TOY STORY 3
  • "Directing my first movie would have been impossible without Judith's book, 'Directing Actors.' Her insights taught me how to audition actors, how to cast intelligently, how to rehearse. When production began, I cribbed a set of Weston reminders on to a 3-by-5 index card, and kept it in my shirt pocket every single day of shooting. She saved me."

    BILLY RAY, writer-director, SHATTERED GLASS, BREACH; writer, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, THE HUNGER GAMES, STATE OF PLAY, FLIGHTPLAN
  • "Judith, you're the one that gave me the tools for success with actors!"

    KAREN GAVIOLA, director, SONS OF ANARCHY, CRIMINAL MINDS, CSI, NCIS, BLUE BLOODS, CSI:MIAMI, CASTLE, PRIVATE PRACTICE, LOST, GHOST WHISPERER, PRISON BREAK, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, NYPD BLUE
  • “Judith Weston taught me how to listen – what she called ‘listening with your whole body.’ She taught me about the power and the magic of the subconscious world. She showed me doors and windows and portals into creative possibilities I scarcely knew existed. Her wisdom changed the way I write, the way I direct actors – and, with no exaggeration, the way I look at life.”

    MARK FERGUS, co-writer: CHILDREN OF MEN, IRON MAN; director: FIRST SNOW
  • "Judith Weston is a great teacher. She's inspired me to be interested in people more than concepts, behavior more than attitudes, process more than results. In her classes I've learned to ask more questions, to trust what is happening, and to always be willing to dig deeper. She is the kind of teacher who makes me excited about taking chances." 

    NORMAN BUCKLEY, director, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, RIZZOLI & ISLES, THE FOSTERS, THE CLIENT LIST, SWITCHED AT BIRTH, GOSSIP GIRL, CHUCK, MELROSE PLACE, 90210, THE O.C.
  • “You've taught me the essential tools so I could carry on with the visions that haunt me day and night and to embrace the process which I will continue to learn. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

    DEJA PREM, writer/producer/director/actor, at Green Coco Production
  • “Your workshop was wonderful in letting me know that many of the things I am already doing are the correct way of dealing with actors and taught me other things that add to that knowledge. And your patience and unbridled energy and passion for what you teach is more than admirable, it is inspiring. So thank you once again for this wonderful experience, one I will never forget and that will continue to help me on this path on which I am forever learning about new and wonderful things.”

    MICHAEL TRIM, director, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, WEEDS, PARKS AND RECREATION
  • "Judith Weston is not a drama teacher, she is an art teacher. She understands that at the heart of great drama is a powerful mystery. What she shows you in her workshops and her book are simple and effective tools that help you get deeper and deeper into that rich, complex and surprising place."

    DAVID JACOBSON, writer-director, DOWN IN THE VALLEY, DAHMER
  • “In your classes I learned to love actors and acting. The experience opened for me the secret door to the magic I witnessed when actor and material find each other in just the right way. What I once thought were 'happy accidents' and performance miracles are now the kernels of creativity I relentlessly pursue with an actor finding a performance. You helped me find that part I could play in the process and how to capture it.”

    FRED TOYE, director, THE GOOD WIFE, PERSON OF INTEREST, RIZZOLI & ISLES, FRINGE, CHUCK, CSI:NY, LOST, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, GHOST WHISPERER, CHUCK
  • “Judith Weston gave me the greatest gift you can give to a first-time director - she gave me confidence in my ability to work with actors. I will be forever grateful for her extremely hands on and applicable advice for directing actors and I know I will use it for the rest of my career. She has a contagious love of the process and an unbelievable understanding of human emotion. I would not be where I am today if it had not been for her.” 

    SHANA FESTE, writer-director, ENDLESS LOVE, COUNTRY STRONG, THE GREATEST
  • "Judith's method is wonderful because it is practical. She has given me numerous tools to solve problems on the set and to earn the trust of actors. Her classes and her book are invaluable resources to any director."

    LAWRENCE TRILLING, director, MASTERS OF SEX, PARENTHOOD, PUSHING DAISIES, DAMAGES, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, NIP/TUCK, MONK, SCRUBS, INVASION, ALIAS, FELICITY
  • "Every time I step on a set, I think of what Judith taught me. Every time I begin a project, I review a notebook I kept during the years I studied with her. Every time I'm in rehearsal, I'm using her techniques. Every time I'm in a bind within a scene, I go back to the foundation she gave me. I didn't go to film school. I sat in Judith Weston's workshops, took everything she said to heart, then went out and started telling my stories. I'm so grateful for that path - and for her."

    AVA DuVERNAY, director, SELMA (2015 Golden Globe nominee for Best Film, and Best Director), SCANDAL, MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (winner of the Best Director Award at Sundance Film Festival and the I
  • "Judith's ideas and principles are incredibly useful when it comes to giving clear, actionable direction to actors. To anyone aspiring to direct, I would recommend making her classroom one of your first stops."

    LEV L. SPIRO, director, MODERN FAMILY, UGLY BETTY, WEEDS, EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, ARLI$$, THE O.C., EVERWOOD, GILMORE GIRLS
  • "Everything you taught me was more than useful. I am deeply grateful."

    ALEJANDRO GONZÁLEZ IÑÁRRITU, director, BIRDMAN, BIUTIFUL, BABEL, 21 GRAMS, AMORES PERROS