Spring 2024 - CA 339 D100

Directing and Acting for Film and Video (3)

Class Number: 7406

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Wed, 10:30 a.m.–2:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    CA (or FPA) 231, or CA (or FPA) 251 with prior approval.



This course acquaints intermediate level students with techniques of dramatic film performance. Students will be expected to perform as both actors and directors on scene work in class. Topics covered include auditioning, script analysis, role preparation, rehearsal, blocking for the camera, and directing techniques. This course is not a duplicate of CA (or FPA) 339 Selected Topics in Film. Students with credit for FPA 339 may not take this course for further credit.


This course takes an integrated, practical approach to the process of dramatization for the camera, with an emphasis on cultivating an empathetic and collaborative approach to working with screen actors. Through lecture, discussion, screenings, and exercises, students will develop an appreciation for the craft of acting and the role directors play in facilitating their work. We will examine how casting, script analysis, blocking, rehearsal, shooting, and editing all work to shape the actor’s performance. Students will learn and practise the language, techniques, and strategies that directors use to realize a dramatic vision for film and television.


In this course, students will:
● Develop an appreciation for actors and the craft of acting, and an understanding of the director’s role in facilitating their work.
● Learn how to find the best possible talent to fill a role through the process of casting and running auditions.
● Learn how to use script analysis to cultivate an intuitive sense of character and action that will motivate your blocking choices.
● Learn how to use blocking to imbue meaning in physical behaviour and find opportunities for visual storytelling.
● Learn how to use rehearsal and improvisation to explore the dramatic opportunities and challenges of a scene, and to later shape it to suit your vision.
● Develop a familiarity with the various approaches and techniques directors use when working with actors, and what tools suit their own artistic practise.
● Develop a critical eye and a language to describe performance work.


  • Script Analysis Assignment 15%
  • Rehearsal Assignment 15%
  • Blocking Assignment 15%
  • Final Project (Video) 20%
  • Performance Journal 10%
  • Participation 25%


Grading Notes

● Directorial work will be appraised on the student’s ability to demonstrate the principles and techniques learned in class—not on the quality of the performances they solicit from their collaborators.
● Students will not be graded on the quality of their acting work, but on their earnest efforts to participate and follow direction.


● Students will be required to work as actors as well as directors in a variety of exercises, both on camera and onstage in front of the class.
● Students will be required to watch performance work outside of class (film, television, live theatre, podcasts) and respond critically in a journal.
● For their final project students will analyse, rehearse, shoot, and edit a scripted scene from a dramatic text of their choice. The final version of these projects will be screened in class. This assignment will require minimal video production and post-production equipment, as well as the proficiencies to use it. If you are not a film student and do not have these proficiencies, be sure to partner with someone who does early in the term.
● Students will be assigned readings on a weekly basis and will be expected to contribute to classroom discussion about these readings.



● Students are encouraged to bring paper, a writing instrument, and a clipboard to class.
● Students should come to class in clothing suitable to movement and being active.
● Students will need access to basic filmmaking equipment for the final project, including a camera, microphone, and editing software.
● Students may be expected to print off scripts for themselves and scene partners throughout the semester, when sharing digitally is not possible.


Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film & Television, by Judith Weston, Michael Wiese Productions, 1999
ISBN: 978-0941188241

● A Practical Handbook for the Actor, by by Melissa, Lee Michael Cohn, Madeleine Olnek, Nathaniel Pollack, Robert Previto, Scott Zigler, 1986
ISBN: 978-0394744124


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html