I'm going to make my first historical movie. Should I use reenactors?

Jul 2015
124
moxicoism
I figured I would make a movie since most of my friends are making movies now. It's probably going to be a historical movie as well like many of my friends have done.

But in the film community, it doesn't seem reenactors are very favored and negatively viewed.

Things like reenactors are too controlling on set, they bully, they have no tolerance for creative licensing, and it actually saves you more time to just buy the costumes yourself and hire actors, regardless of the inaccuracies.

Do you agree with this or not?
 
Last edited:

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,917
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Make it clear to them that they're in a fictional movie, not a documentary.

Unless you're making a documentary, of course.
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,414
Albuquerque, NM
Utilize the reenactors. They are cheap extras, and will bring a nice sense of authenticity to battle scenes and backgrounds. To avoid problems with their insistence on accuracy of minute details, shoot them separately and apart from the principle story line. That way you can contain their expertise to scenes where accuracy is nice, but not essential to telling the story. Save on costumes, and make the senior most respected re-enactor the next to final authority on questions raised by the groups. Most are pretty well disciplined while "on stage", so use their organizational structures to keep everyone in line. Adding a credit for the group and their leader will be appreciated when the re-enactors send their friends to the film.

Shoot your principles, and a few extras on the same set, but if possible on a different day. Herding extras with an exaggerated sense of their own importance takes time and patience. By confining the shooting schedule of re-enactors to a single day, it will be easier to keep the action moving. I hate having crew drawing good salaries sitting around waiting on even the leads, much less the backgounds. When they are gone, then you can spend more time with the leads and supporting actors and crew to fine tune their performances.

Really the most important thing is a great story contained in a script that is well written by a good writing staff. Writers are another of those elements of making a film that can drive the costs over budget for both time and money. Necessary, but needful of careful control. Don't skimp on production costs because today's audiences are accustomed to really fine production values. Special effects may be worth their cost, but if your film relies on them expect bumping heads with the Producers.

Hitchcock once said, I believe, that all he required of actors is that they know their lines and could hit their marks most of the time. There is a story that he hired a pricey actress only to use for close ups, and reaction shots. Everything else was done by a stand-in used to Hitch's dictatorial ways.
 

Naima

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
2,323
Venice
I figured I would make a movie since most of my friends are making movies now. It's probably going to be a historical movie as well like many of my friends have done.

But in the film community, it doesn't seem reenactors are very favored and negatively viewed.

Things like reenactors are too controlling on set, they bully, they have no tolerance for creative licensing, and it actually saves you more time to just buy the costumes yourself and hire actors, regardless of the inaccuracies.

Do you agree with this or not?
Hire reenactors, is lot cooler to see proper costumes rather than fake ones, it will also give more credibility to the project.
 

funakison

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,381
Between a rock and a hard place
Reenactors every time, they have tools, costumes and props. If you need gunpowder carting about the place they know the rules and can do it safely. Reenactors are cheap and as already mentioned tell them its fiction.