How To Direct Actors (Part 2) – Jason Satterlund

Jason Satterlund, Filmmaker: Actors are a different beast, they behave differently than everyone else on set. It’s like they’re like the popular kids in high school.

Film Courage: The first one was being able to think on your feet and then the second skill a good director should have is just being proficient with editing? 

Jason: Yes, really understanding editing. I think the third skill (this I’d say is number one) and it’s knowing how to work with actors. I am continually shocked at how that is a skill that most directors don’t seem to know. I don’t understand why that one is the one that’s shoved aside. Just today a friend of mine who’s a DP said that they’re working with an actor, the lead of this movie, and the lead is not good. I said Well, hopefully your director can direct the actor and bring up a good performance? She said No, the director’s giving no notes whatsoever. He’s working with the camera department and the actors left on their own. The amount of time is unbelievable, the amount of times I hear actors complain about this. I went out there, I’m doing my thing, I’m getting no notes. I have no idea what I’m doing. If you understand what it’s like to be an actor, it’s like painting blindfolded. You’re out there performing but you can’t see it and if your director is hiding in video village back there not telling you that it’s a very frustrating place to be as an actor and it just astounds me that more directors don’t spend more time learning the skill and it seems to be this terror when it comes this idea that working with an actor is scary. I’m not sure where that idea comes from. I worked with an actor or rather a director friend of mine a couple years ago. I was helping her out on set and I heard her say Well, this actor has worked with Martin Scorsese, what do I have to say? I’m like What do you mean? You’re the director, they want to hear what you have to say! They don’t care that you are not Martin Scorsese, they just need to know what you want. The most common excuse I hear from directors when it comes to this kind of subject is…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

Jason Satterlund on location for his latest film THE ABANDON (written by Dwain Worrell)


Jason Satterlund is an award winning film director who has been working on films for over 25 years. He has extensive experience in all areas of production including directing, producing, writing, cinematography, and editing. He works all over the world directing, commercials, documentaries, music videos, and feature films. 

Early on he developed his skills as a storyteller and uses them to this day on projects as diverse as sci-fi steampunk action films, high end commercials, underwater sea life in the tropics, television shows, top country music artists in Nashville, Tenn, and feature films. He is the only person ever to conduct a night shoot in the ancient city of Petra, and the first person in America to use film lenses on an HD camera. 

Satterlund has done extensive work for clients such as Warner Brothers, Bon Jovi, Amazon, Microsoft, Jack White, CNN, Hallmark Entertainment, ABC, and the country of Jordan. 

He is creator and director of the award winning feature film, “The Record Keeper,” which premiered at the Raindance Film Festival in London, and won the first annual Geekie Awards. 

Satterlund’s latest film THE ABANDON (written by Dwain Worrell) features a wounded soldier awakening in a strange cube that tests his physical and mental limits as he attempts to find a way to escape against a ticking clock.

Miles Willis [played by Jonathan Rosenthal] and Jason Satterlund on set for THE ABANDON
On set for THE ABANDON


U.S. soldier, Miles Willis, is shot and wounded during an intense firefight in Iraq. As he tries to radio for help, a sudden blinding light surrounds him, and he awakens to find himself trapped in a strange, colorless cube with nothing inside but his own combat gear. As time passes, the cube begins to change: fluctuating extreme temperatures, random shifts of gravity, and strange writing appearing on the walls. His only communication is with one person — a mystery woman who calls him on his satellite phone, claiming to be trapped in a similar space. As the clock ticks, the two of them must figure out who has them, why they were taken, and how to escape.


A film by Jason Satterlund

Written by Dwain Worrell

The film stars Jonathan Rosenthal, Tamara Perry, and Regis Terencio 

Produced by Victoria Hadeler and Regis Terencio 

Executive Produced by Jonathan Rosenthal and Jordan Foley 

Edited by Jason Satterlund 

Cinematography by Ray Huang 

Music by Geoff Koch 

From Mill House Motion Pictures 

Runtime is 1 hour 36 Minutes 

This drama/thriller film is not yet rated




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