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Luis Caffesse
11-11-2005, 04:19 PM
I assume most of us here that are directing are doing so at an "indie" level
(whatever that means anymore).

I'm curious to hear about what approaches some of you may have when it comes to preproduction time and rehearsals. At what stage do you bring actors in to your projects? Do you workshop your scripts with them before they are finalized? Or do you polish it on your own and give them something set in stone?

When it comes to rehearsals, how much time do you take? And how demanding are you during rehearsal time?

I have always been a bit paranoid about 'overrehearsing' scenes, but there is also a very real danger in wasting time on set.


Just thought I'd throw this out there and see what others approaches were.
So jump in...

LloydC
11-11-2005, 04:33 PM
Well, when to bring actors in should be after you finalize the budget and shooting dates. Also when you finished what days you will need them for. Don't quote me on that, but that's how I work...

For rehearsing, check out the book "Directing Actors" by Weston. Awesome advice to approach rehearsals. I have yet to test them out, but eager to for sure.

Luis Caffesse
11-11-2005, 04:43 PM
LLoyd, I guess I was just fishing for perspective here on what other people are doing.
I've read a decent amount on Acting (including 'Directing Actors').

In terms of "when to bring actors in" ... I didn't mean so much in terms of logistics.
Obviously I wait until the budget and dates are set, but I meant more in terms of creative input.
I know some people like working with actors during a rehearsal period, and will use this time to do some improv, tweaking the scripts dialogue as they go. Others like to set things in stone before the actors see the script, and shoot it as it's written.

I was just curious what sort of approaches some of the people here had.

yagfxg33k
11-11-2005, 09:21 PM
I think I was on about the 5th draft when I did auditions. I knew that I would still make changes but the gist of what I wanted to do was there. Moreover I found that when I did the auditions, seeing the material performed helped me a great deal and led to a number of changes in the script.

When I had those auditions, I had about 60 percent of my logistical issues taken care of for the shoot (purchased gear - secured location etc). I actually did not set a shoot date in stone until I had secured the actors for the film. Once I made my choices for the actors, I set a date and confirmed the actor's availability.

Once I was on the set I did simple run throughs. Then shot the scenes until I felt I had the take that I wanted. Once that was done I let the actors do their own interpretation of the scenes and shot that as well.

Luis Caffesse
11-11-2005, 10:35 PM
I've always found it helpful to let the actors do their own interpretation as well, once I feel like I got what I wanted. You never know what they're going to come up with, and it's a great way to make sure people feel like their input is being considered and respected.

So did you do any rehearsals before the shoot?
It sound like you did auditions, then cast, and then just did run throughs on set.

I've never spent much time on dedicated rehearsal time (mostly due to time/budget constraints)
But I've always thought I could benefit from rehearsals. I just feel like I don't have a good idea yet of how much time would be good to block off.

At a minimum I think that the next project I do I will definitely get the entire cast together for a full read through (something which I'm embarassed to say I've never been able to do).

yagfxg33k
11-11-2005, 11:45 PM
Well, this last production was a 3 minute film - Pretty simple stuff. 2 scenes. The next one is about 30 minutes. For that one I will do a read through - no acting. Part of me beleives that rehearsal can stifle spontaneous performance. What I plan to do on the next one is let the actor's do their own interpretation first of each scene and shoot that. Then shoot the script proper. My hope is that I might get some fresh spontenaety on the 1st takes.

jpbankesmercer
11-12-2005, 05:04 AM
:thumbdown I usually donít have the time for rehearsals. I always cast early. During the casting I create a workshop environment.

Example.
My first film ĎThe Tribeí Ė 30mins silent caveman comedy.
I knew I needed physical Actors, I wanted something like the beginning of 2001, I watched it again and again, picked up on the things I liked about it.
So I put out an open casting call, in a specific area known for physical Actors.
They came. I talked a local pub into letting me use their back room, they will buy lots of drinks (they didnít), and started.

First I let them provide a piece of their own choice. Then I started moving them around. I asked them to find their own shelter and go about a daily caveman routine Ė waking up, foraging for food, beating something-to-death. I stood close-by feeding them new motivations (seeing how they responded to direction) and finished by making them proclaim their love for the producer (sat firmly behind the desk)
We then discussed how they felt about it. I was looking for an openness/ not shy type of person who as absurd as this audition seemed, was not too fazed about running around in loin cloths covered in mud. :evil: :evil:
The films story was simple, cavemen living alone in their own community, until a strange female comes along whom the deprived cavemen all fall in-love with. So I kept the workshop closely tied to the story, I knew with each actor within about a minute if itís what I wanted. I also brought in another Actor who I had already cast to create some social interaction (a main theme in my story.) All the Actors said what a great time they had, Iíve worked with others from the audition that didnít make the cut on that project.

In this case there was not any dialogue. I had enough with what I had seen, to be able to block on set and let them bring their own thoughts to the role. You may scoff and say thatís not acting, but their performances was paramount in selling the idea that my film was set in the late Bronze Age, they pulled it off wonderfully. :)

So what Iím trying to say isÖRehearsals will arise when needed depending on the type of project. I only rehearse for drama. If the piece requires deeper understanding you will want to rehearse it and can only judge the time needed by the depth of the piece. I donít worry about the blocking too much, it always changes, I concentrate on the relationships/ text conveyed. I am also a big fan of Christopher Guest and Co, My last film ĎHeroes 4 Hireí was 80% improvised on-set but I donít think I would take the risk now on a medium budget film, without seeing how they all worked together, I donít think my heart could take the strain. :shocked:

J.P.

Luis Caffesse
11-12-2005, 11:23 AM
Thanks for the details.


I donít worry about the blocking too much, it always changes, I concentrate on the relationships/ text conveyed.

I feel the same way about blocking. Generally I try to let the actors find thier blocking in the run throughs. I tell them to just do what comes naturally, and then I'll tweak it from there.

I guess the only exception is if there is a specific camera move planned which would dictate blocking, but I try to keep those to a minimum.


I guess most of us are working somewhat in the same way.
It's hard enough to find time for a shoot, much less for rehearsals.

jermz
11-12-2005, 01:48 PM
Yeah, and blocking you can work out with crew members, or people with more time on their hands. Here, anyway, actors take on multiple projects simultaneously, so if blocking's super important and your actor isn't needed for it, find stand-ins to do it for you.

Luis Caffesse
11-12-2005, 01:50 PM
Yeah, and blocking you can work out with crew members, or people with more time on their hands. Here, anyway, actors take on multiple projects simultaneously, so if blocking's super important and your actor isn't needed for it, find stand-ins to do it for you.


My only problem with that is that I like for the actors to find their own blocking, or at least have a say in it. I think it's important for the actors movements to feel comfortable to them. If they work on the blocking with me, then hopefully we can find something that both works for me and feels natural for them.... instead of me just telling them "sit here, and then move here, etc"

jermz
11-12-2005, 02:06 PM
My only problem with that is that I like for the actors to find their own blocking, or at least have a say in it. I think it's important for the actors movements to feel comfortable to them. If they work on the blocking with me, then hopefully we can find something that both works for me and feels natural for them.... instead of me just telling them "sit here, and then move here, etc"

Totally understandable. I was merely referring to situations where precise blocking is ESSENTIAL to making the film convey what it is you want it to. I used "super important" in the statement I posted earlier. What I meant was "essential". :)

Of course, if you DO have the time to block with your actors, all the better! And by all means, go for it! If nothing stands in your way of doing it, then do it. However, if you have restrictions (and it would appear that in your posts that time is an issue, as it is for all of us I would imagine), getting stand-ins is a resourceful way of video storyboarding what needs to be conveyed in the screen and what your camera is capturing, instead of having to figure it out on set.

Then, when you get your actors on board, you can still have them flex around with how they'll be dealing with their character space, but at least by then, you'd have somewhat of a reference on what it is you'll be capturing, and you can perhaps find a happy medium between what the actors come up with and what you originally had in mind in terms of blocking.

Luis Caffesse
11-12-2005, 02:21 PM
I used "super important" in the statement I posted earlier. What I meant was "essential". :)

Gotcha, I missed that.
That's what I get for posting too fast.

I"m putting a short together for shooting in the beginning of 2006. Don't have exact dates yet as we haven't finished the script. We're hoping to give this one a decent budget, and keep it short enough to give us the luxury of rehearsal time... away from the pressures of the set.

So, I was just trying to get some perspective on how other people here use that time...or if they even do.

jermz
11-12-2005, 02:22 PM
Again, referencing what JP suggested earlier, it really boils down to what kind of project you're working on. Different projects call for different rehearsal/non-rehearsal methods, and in each, you need to adjust based on that.

Working with stand-ins, I find, allows me to again, have a frame of reference as to where the camera will be positioned/the kinds of motions it will make. If time is an issue (especially for your actor), my take on it is be as prepared as possible on the day of the shoot, but also keep an open mind. If your actor brilliantly comes up with a different interpretation of your script that requires you to make different camera movements, go with that. I always value performance over blocking, but if there's a way you can do that while having the camera accentuate the emotional moment, why not do it that way? And if time is a major constraint in your production, stand-ins can provide you with a rough model of what your final product will be if your actor isn't available for the test shoots.

I'm a firm believer that camera movements should be justified by the tension inherent in the moment of the story you're trying to tell. Schedules clash, and reshoots are no fun, but if for nothing else than to give the director a manifested version of his/her vision, stand-ins help significantly, for me anyway.

kimko
11-12-2005, 03:54 PM
i like what YAGFFX said, as an actor's prospective,i agree with JERMZ know where you want me is important then i can take it from there. some actors i worked with had know clue where the camera is and lighting also. and their busy saying their lines they forget the other actor and cross the camera then my response isn't seen. yes definitely rehearse. anyways thats my prospective

jpbankesmercer
11-12-2005, 05:36 PM
You know, I'm mad on blocking. I think it can really open up a piece. Itís one of my favourite attributes of directing. I've been working with STEADICAM recently and love how it's opened up direction. I come from a theatre background and interesting movement was always an issue. You can occupy nervous Actors with good blocking too! :lipsrseal
J.P.

jhvid
11-14-2005, 09:17 AM
If you haven't already, check out "Making Movies" by Sidney Lumet. He goes into pretty good detail on how/why he rehearses and while his rehearsal schedule is pretty long (and probably out of reach for most of us), his logic is good and can be applied to much shorter sessions. My two cents: I do a table reading with everybody, then have a couple nights to bring in the various actors that have scenes together to make sure they are at least on the right track. Blocking for me happens on the set, but we start to at least plant the seeds in these rehearsals.

Luis Caffesse
11-14-2005, 09:20 AM
jhvid,
thanks for the reminder.
I read Lumet's book a while back and I remember thinking it was a good practical resource.
It's probably time I went back to it..... (searching the shelf)

THERE IT IS!
I'm getting on that one tonight.
Hopefully it will refresh some thoughts in my mind

mrblue1022
11-14-2005, 05:42 PM
I tend to bring my actors on as early as possible once we get a greenlight. I want to make sure wardrobe, makeup and other departments have enough time to work with the actors. As far as rehearsing, I like to do one or two table reads and that's it. Then when we get on set I will rehearse the scene with the actors a couple times after the DP lights to work out the blocking and make sure we are all on the same page.

For me the script is never really locked, especially if I have an actor who spends to much time with the script. I'm working on a short film now where the actor has spent way too much time with the script. She nails every single word, but it sounds like she's reading her lines. In a situation like this I might rewrite scenes and give the actor the new scenes a day or so before we shoot them just to get her to be more "real" in her delivery.

Rob

KimCamera
11-20-2005, 08:19 PM
I found out the hard way. I secured the actors first and searched for locations at the same time. Well, I found out locations are a problem. However, my actors are still committed to work on my feature length movie. This is after four years of delays. The next movie I'll follow your approach. I'm lucky the same talent wants to hang in there. Thanks.

Matthew B. Moore
11-21-2005, 01:00 PM
I assume most of us here that are directing are doing so at an "indie" level
(whatever that means anymore).

I'm curious to hear about what approaches some of you may have when it comes to preproduction time and rehearsals. At what stage do you bring actors in to your projects? Do you workshop your scripts with them before they are finalized? Or do you polish it on your own and give them something set in stone?

When it comes to rehearsals, how much time do you take? And how demanding are you during rehearsal time?

I have always been a bit paranoid about 'overrehearsing' scenes, but there is also a very real danger in wasting time on set.


Just thought I'd throw this out there and see what others approaches were.
So jump in...

I know I'm hitting this issue late, but what I have to say may help. I've made 20 some odd indies at this point and I've gone through all of the crap that one could possibly go through. For large groups, my favorite tech. is get them all together and serve food and beer. I'll have several scripts laying around all over the place. I feed them and give them drink to start, so that they are all relaxed and happy. The nuttiest thing is; people are there to read and they naturally start thinking about it as they sit there and get used to each other. I've found it really, REALLY helps the performances. Especially when I can sit there and listen and interject once in a while to drive the performance in a certain direction. Man, does it create a sense of intamacy between the actors.

Matt

jpbankesmercer
11-22-2005, 11:10 AM
Matthew,
Thats a great tip, get the beers in!

Matthew B. Moore
11-22-2005, 01:25 PM
Matthew,
Thats a great tip, get the beers in!

Yeah, as long as all of your actor are over 21. I shoot for that most of the time.
:beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer:

BrianV
11-22-2005, 03:07 PM
Heh... after 10 hours of rehearsals, anyone could use a Guinness right about then.

Matthew B. Moore
11-23-2005, 06:31 AM
Heh... after 10 hours of rehearsals, anyone could use a Guinness right about then.

use or need?

Luis Caffesse
11-23-2005, 06:52 AM
That's a great idea Mathew.
I'm going to try that next time, instead of just setting up a straight table read through.

After getting all the actors together like that, do you do any further rehearsal work? Or do you leave that for 'on set'?

Matthew B. Moore
11-23-2005, 10:52 AM
That's a great idea Mathew.
I'm going to try that next time, instead of just setting up a straight table read through.

After getting all the actors together like that, do you do any further rehearsal work? Or do you leave that for 'on set'?

I will spend time with the actors individually when they come in for fittings. If you individualize the fittings, you can get into the actors head. If you have group fittings, you have another chance to get the actors together. Make them all wait in one area. They will start rehearsing with out being told. I guess it all depends on what you need.

Alot of the stuff we do is combat heavy, so we often go over lines when we meet for combat training.

I will, sometimes, call the actors when I'm working on production and give them notes from my moment of inspiration.