Film Set HORROR Stories – Dead End Mistakes That Could Have Been Avoided

Imagine the horror… An actor finally grabs hold of a role that’s to die for, only to watch it torn away because of a mistake that could have been avoided. Did the actor mean what they said? Where they sorry afterwards? Doesn’t matter. Lights out. Game over.

Scary but true. Could it happen to you?

To help NYCastings members… here are three examples of film set horror stories from Directors who recently had films at The Golden Door International Film Festival in Jersey City.

Alert. Warning. These should be avoided!

Film Set Horror Stories with… Director – Scott Storm

Actors should avoid trying to direct a fellow actor on another director’s set.

Actors should never do this. Ever. When you get caught, bad things happen. It’s impolite. It’s rude. It’s completely unprofessional.

I caught the person because the other actor came to me and said “Should I be listening to him? Is he a director on this movie to?” and I was like – NO.

I learned that the other actor was telling him how to play a scene. I took that actor in another room and told him that if he did it again I would fire him. You just don’t do that. You may think you know more than the director but it doesn’t matter. It’s not your movie. If you want to make movies yourself, go and do that. But don’t direct on someone else’s set.


I am a director who accepts feedback from everyone. I am not so sure I believe in the whole auteur thing. Film is a collaborative art. If an actor feels as if another actor isn’t doing something right or should try something else, he should talk to me first. If I agree, I will implement the Suggestion. But you don’t do it behind the director’s back

***Scott Storm’s second film, TEN ‘TIL NOON, was the recipient of nine festival awards in 2006, including three for Best Picture, one for Best Director, two for Best Screenplay and one for Best Editing. He recently finished a documentary, We Run Sh*t, which played at The Golden Door International Film Festival and was the winner of the Best Documentary Award at the 2012 Phoenix Film Festival.

Film Set Horror Stories with… Director – William Dautrick Jr.

I had actors who didn’t show up to set!

We would have a Sunday shoot and the actor would call on Friday saying they couldn’t make it. That isn’t a good thing for actors to do because I’m not going to work with them again.

Even though there wasn’t pay for this film, this year alone I’ve been at five festivals and last year I was at two. We intend to continue to make films, and we intend to make films that pay actors. When the time comes again to do the next film, those actors who didn’t show up aren’t going to be considered. If you didn’t show up when we needed you, when it was free and we were all working together – if you couldn’t be a team player than why should we include you once money is involved? If it wasn’t about the craft for you, why would we want to work with you?

***William Dautrick Jr. directed RED SCARE about a Soviet plot that brings the living dead to the shores of America! Only the brave patriotic hero Rex Steel can stop the evil Soviet menace alongside a teen rebel, a Top Reporter, and a frightened teenage girl. RED SCARE played at The Golden Door International Film Festival 2012.


Film Set Horror Stories with… Director Sam Borowski

We had one actor who required 19 takes to give us just one usable take.

Honestly, being prepared is your homework. If you have your script and know your lines, there is no reason why it should take 19 or 23 takes to get one. The scene was a little monologue, written very well. It wasn’t complicated, but the actor couldn’t remember it. Whether they were nervous, just lied to us, didn’t understand the script – is unimportant. What matters is they showed up on set unprepared. And we were in a location where we couldn’t film all day. We had a finite amount of time. Luckily, on the 19th take I knew we got something we could use. It doesn’t matter how nervous the actor was, if they were prepared it wouldn’t have come to that.

Also, I had an actor who had the script for months but didn’t bring up a problem until last minute. If the actor wasn’t going to do what the script said, we wouldn’t have hired them.

I haven’t had many problems on set, but I have had some and it is never from the leads. Some people on the set just don’t subscribe to the same theories that I subscribe to, which is not questioning the director and producer. Actors shouldn’t give them a hard time.

Actors should always try and ingratiate themselves to the director and producer. Basically, I always tell them to be the actor that both a director and producer want to work with. Be the actor who doesn’t complain about food. Be the actor that others want to work with. An actor that comes with their A-game, and doesn’t question everything you tell them to do.

I also don’t care for actors who take it as a part-time thing, who say that their sister is visiting and they can’t make it. They act as if it is a high school project.

We want up-and-comers that make the director’s life easier.

*** Sam Borowski produced six films – including two shorts – with another feature on the way. He directed and produced the much-anticipated feature film, “Night Club (2011),” in post-production. Before that, Borowski wrote, produced and directed, “The Mandala Maker”, a short for Academy-Award consideration in 2010 that got considerable Oscar buzz. His short film, Pollination * won Best Short at The Golden Door International Film Festival 2012.


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