A Director’s Guide To Working With Actors – James Cullen Bressack

James Cullen Bressack, Filmmaker: I imagine every character is a blank canvas and what I do is I take my ideas about the character as informed by the script and they take their ideas about the characters informed by the script, we throw them at the canvas and whatever works for both of us, that’s what we use to paint the picture of who that person is. 

Film Courage: Do actors drive the production of movies more than people realize? 

James: For sure. Well in what sense actually?

Film Courage: Suppose once you have a certain name attached, more money will follow?

James: There you go, that’s what I thought you meant. That’s a hundred percent. An actor being involved in your project means that (a certain caliber actor) means a certain caliber of budget. So certain movies that you want to be able to do all these crazy things can only happen if a bigger name gets involved so it’s kind of yeah they definitely do, at least at this level.

Film Courage: what about this myth that actors are at home and they have this pile of scripts that are sitting on their coffee table, they can pick which one they want to work on and it’s super easy for them?

James: It depends on the level of actor. Certain level of actors, they have a ton of offers and they say no to a bunch of stuff and the ones that they do say yes to is far between and it has to hit a certain quote and stuff. But then you have other actors that are actively campaigning for roles and doing stuff. It depends on the project, it depends on if they connected with the project, it depends on if they want to work with a certain actor that’s already involved with a project or a certain director that is already involved with a project or a producer and the business evolves and grows each time, it keeps dying and being reborn every time something new comes into it. Then you see a lot of actors that are just going…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

About James Cullen Bressack:

James Cullen Bressack is an American producer, director, and screenwriter. At the age of 18 he received critical attention from audiences and critics alike when he made his debut feature, My Pure Joy. One to push boundaries, James followed up with the bold and unapologetic Hate Crime which forced audiences along for a brutal home invasion, the first found footage feature ever to be made in the style of having no cuts. The entire film plays out painfully in real time. It was promptly banned in the UK for its fearless story telling, one of three films to be banned in the last 25 years and remains so to this day. The prolific filmmaker refused to slow down completing seven more features including Pernicious, 13-13-13, and Blood Lake, starring Shannen Doherty and Christopher Lloyd, which made James the youngest director to ever direct for television. 

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

After writing and directing the haunting Bethany, James shifted his focus to producing. He has now produced forty-eight features including releases for Lionsgate and Cinedigm and is a member of both the PGA and SAG/AFTRA. His impressive body of work has won him numerous Best Picture and Best Director awards on the film festival circuit. James has achieved all this at the age of 29 and refuses to slow down as he continues to push the envelop and make films no one thought possible. His most recent features include Beyond The Law, starring Steven Seagal and DMX along with Survive The Game and Fortress which star Bruce Willis and Chad Michael Murray. He also just completed photography on the feature Hot Seat starring Mel Gibson, Kevin Dillon, Shannen Doherty and Sam Asghari.







FORTRESS featuring Jesse Metcalfe, Bruce Willis, Chad Michael Murray, Kelly Greyson, Ser’Darius Blain, Shannen Doherty. Directed by James Cullen Bressack. Written by Alan Horsnail. In Select Theaters, On Demand and Digital on December 17, 2021.

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