To continue from the last post, my preferred method of working with actors if we all have the time -is to get to know one another. And if you are a first time director of a low budget feature film - make the time!
It's all about communication and trust. The actors need to trust you and need to put a great deal of faith in you. If you don't have a "name" or a great reputation, how in the world will an actor truly trust you?
So, one great way to build trust is to simply spend time together. For example, on my first feature, I had a three week rehearsal schedule. We met 3 times a week for a total of three weeks. Twice a week at a studio and once a week at my house. It was here, in my house where we really got to know one another. I cooked dinner, they brought wine, and after we did some work for 2 hours or so, we ate dinner and drank.
Yeah, there's nothing like breaking bread with folks. This is how you get to know each other. To build trust. Have some laughs, let your guard down, and maybe even drink a little too much wine. We're talking about trying to achieve a level of comfort. The actor who played the male lead, Ivan, would take his shoes off when he entered my house and plop himself down on the sofa - this is achieving a level of comfort.
You do not want to be strangers when you begin to work on the set or location. Know each other - this is the first step in being a good director.