Judith Weston

Studio For Actors And Directors

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A Reading List From Judith

I recommend my own books - Directing Actors and The Film Director's Intuition - for filmmakers, screenwriters, and actors. And here are a few other books that directors and actors might find helpful.

Books by Directors

MAKING MOVIES, by Sidney Lumet
MOVIEMAKERS’ MASTER CLASS, by Laurent Tirard
I’LL BE IN MY TRAILER, and ON DIRECTING, by John Badham
CASSAVETES ON CASSAVETES, Ray Carney, editor
KIESLOWSKI ON KIESLOWSKI, Danusia Stok, editor

KAZAN ON DIRECTING, by Elia Kazan, Martin Scorsese, John Lahr
ON DIRECTING FILM, by David Mamet

Books by other Acting Teachers

HOW TO STOP ACTING, by Harold Guskin
ON ACTING, by Sanford Meisner

THE INTENT TO LIVE, by Larry Moss
THE POWER OF THE ACTOR, by Ivana Chubbuck

A PRACTICAL HANDBOOK FOR THE ACTOR, by Bruder, et al
AUDITION, by Michael Shurtleff
IMPRO, by Keith Johnstone

THE ART OF ACTING, by Stella Adler
A DREAM OF PASSION, by Lee Strasberg
RESPECT FOR ACTING, by Uta Hagen

MY LIFE IN ART, by Constantin Stanislavski
AN ACTOR PREPARES, by Constantin Stanislavski

Then, I recommend all actors and directors to consider the history of theater to also be the history of film. And to acquaint themselves with that legacy, by reading plays, including the following:

American Classics—The Big Five

Edward Albee: WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?; THE ZOO STORY
Arthur Miller: DEATH OF A SALESMAN
Eugene O'Neill: LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT; THE ICEMAN COMETH
Tennessee Williams: THE GLASS MENAGERIE, STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
August Wilson: FENCES, JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE

More American Classics

Horton Foote: start with SELECTED ONE-ACT PLAYS
John Guare: THE HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES, SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION
Lorraine Hansberry: RAISIN IN THE SUN
Beth Henley: CRIMES OF THE HEART
Lillian Hellman: THE CHILDREN'S HOUR; THE LITTLE FOXES
William Inge: DARK AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS; BUS STOP; PICNIC
David Mamet: AMERICAN BUFFALO, GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS
Clifford Odets: AWAKE AND SING, COUNTRY GIRL, GOLDEN BOY 
John Patrick Shanley: DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA
Sam Shepard: FOOL FOR LOVE, TRUE WEST, BURIED CHILD, CURSE OF THE STARVING CLASS
Neil Simon: ODD COUPLE, SUNSHINE BOYS
Thornton Wilder: OUR TOWN; THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH

European Classics

Samuel Beckett: WAITING FOR GODOT
Bertolt Brecht: MOTHER COURAGE
Anton Chekhov: UNCLE VANYA, THE SEAGULL, THE CHERRY ORCHARD, THE THREE SISTERS
Noel Coward: PRIVATE LIVES, BLYTHE SPIRIT
Jean Genet: THE MAIDS
Henrik Ibsen: HEDDA GABLER, A DOLL’S HOUSE
Eugene Ionesco: RHINOSCEROS
Frederico Garcia Lorca: THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA
Martin McDonagh: BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE, THE PILLOWMAN
Harold Pinter: BETRAYAL, THE HOMECOMING, DUMB WAITER, CARETAKER
Sean O’Casey: PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD
George Bernard Shaw: MAN AND SUPERMAN
August Strindberg: MISS JULIE
Tom Stoppard: ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD
John Millington Synge: RIDERS TO THE SEA
Oscar Wilde: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

Pre-20th Century

SHAKESPEARE: Don't be intimidated by Shakespeare; he is very modern, very down-to-earth, and the most cinematic of all playwrights. HAMLET is crucial; if you don't feel up to reading HAMLET, there are a number of film adaptations; the one that feels to me the most modern and relatable is the one directed by Franco Zeffirelli, with Mel Gibson. The most modern version of ROMEO AND JULIET is Baz Luhrman's ROMEO + JULIET, with Clare Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio. Kenneth Branaugh's versions of HENRY V and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING feel modern and relatable. There are at least two very approachable versions of RICHARD III, one starring Laurence Olivier, one starring Ian McKellen. For a very real and terrifying MACBETH, check the film version by Roman Polanski.

GREEK DRAMA: THE TROJAN WOMEN, by Euripides, usually feels the most modern, the most emotional to most people.

MOLIERE: All the characters in THE MISANTHROPE, THE IMAGINARY INVALID, TARTUFFE, etc., are completely recognizable today.

  • "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