This coming weekend will see the release of actor-director John Krasinski’s next directorial effort, A Quiet Place. Of course, most audiences recognize him as Jim Halpert from the American version of The Office, and while this new film of his in no way resembles The Office, it turns out it was instrumental in helping him direct the film. Speaking with Variety, Krasinski reflected on a very specific piece of advice The Office creator Greg Daniels game him.
“I remember on The Office, the creator Greg Daniels, said, ‘Your job is not to deliver these lines funny, your job is to deliver these lines,'” Krasinski told the outlet. “If someone laughs, that’s up to them, you just deliver the truth of the moment, and I applied it here. My goal is not that I set out to make a scary movie, I set out to make a movie about a family. If you were scared, it’s because you didn’t want to see anything happen to these people.”
That is a very good piece of direction, and as A Quiet Place proves, it doesn’t just apply to comedy. Sure, a part of the appeal of The Office is that the characters themselves weren’t working to be funny as much as they were reacting genuinely based on their personalities. The basic takeaway here isn’t to telegraph how an audience member should feel.
The hope is that through the writing and actions, the motivations of the characters and the obstacles they face will be enough to pry a genuine reaction from an audience, be it a laugh or scream. Gotta love that piece of advice, as it seems to go hand-in-hand with the tried-and-true “show, don’t tell” advice. You’re not spelling it out for the audience, but giving them specific things they can react to (hopefully in the way you intended).
A Quiet Place hits theaters this coming weekend.
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