Dr. Robert Marchand is an award-winning Australian film director with over 25 years experience. He is also a writer and lecturer, and a mentor to emerging filmmakers. His credits include the television mini-series Fields Of Fire, Come In Spinner, Sun On The Stubble, Kangaroo Palace and The Potato Factory. He has just received funding for The Forgotten Genius of Henry Hoke, a 21-part miniseries for the ABC; filming will begin in 2014. For his past work he has been awarded four Australian Film Institute Awards and has also received Logie, ATOM & Penguin awards and nominations.
Robert is a graduate of the Australian Film and Television School - where he conducted a pioneering workshop with professional actors over a three month period, investigating Mike Leigh’s methods. He subsequently attended courses conducted by Leigh and has since used aspects of the process in his own films.
Robert is hailed as Australia’s foremost expert in the Character-based Improvisation Process. Since 1993, he has run over 60 workshops for actors, and filmmakers across Australia. He has just conducted a workshop for writers and directors at NIDA
(National Institute of Dramatic Art); his workshops are on the curriculum of the 16th Street Actors Studio, Melbourne; they have been an integral part of the Flinders University Drama Centre program, a director’s variant has been part of the Grad Dip program at AFTRS (Australian Film, Television & Radio School) and it was the featured workshop on the Actors Summer Program at Butler University, Indianapolis, USA. His master classes on character-based improvisations have been featured at the Screen Producers Association (SPAA) Fringe Conference; WAAPA; VCA and at the Australian Film Commission’s IndiVisions initiative.
Robert also conducts tailor-made workshops for directors about to start their film projects, workshopping scripted characters in a pre-rehearsal environment. Past projects include Cedar Boys (Serhat Carradee); Newcastle (Dan Castle); Playing For Charlie (Pene Patrick), and Monkey Puzzle (Mark Forstmann); up-coming is Thighs of the Passionate Nymph (Andrea Bosshard).
Robert’s PhD at Flinders University investigated the creation of character through the CBI Process in relation to fictive identities; as part of his research he wrote and directed the feature film The Identity Project (currently in post-production): this was created entirely using the character-based improvisation process.
“My own passion for this process is because it reconnects the director and actor with their pure creative impulses in an environment where discovery, experimentation and risk-taking can be safely investigated.
We live in an era where – for better or worse – ours is a film industry. Both directors and actors are often reminded that the business aspects of filmmaking dictate how a film is made. Once a project is green-lit, the organisational apparatus of production swings into action and though the director is at the centre of events, she or he is often swept along by process, while the actor can feel a degree of presumption about their craft. In either case, there is a risk of negating what some would say is the raison d’être of both:
The profound rewards of the creative act.
Character-based Improvisation is a way of working that not only enshrines the creative satisfaction of filmmaking, but builds the organisational apparatus around it. And what I do through the workshop is to demonstrate how every step in the process is a creative tool in its own right, enabling director and actor to work, each in their own way, without collision with the other. And they can do this, (no matter what the project), with confidence and control – and have a great deal of artistic satisfaction while doing it.”