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c.g._eads
11-18-2005, 02:23 AM
When you're directing someone and are doing a bunch of angles, and the actors just aren't doing it the way you want in the wide takes, but then you figure out later, when you're in close-ups, the direction to give them to have them do it the way you want, and that new performance is quite different from the earlier performance, are you screwed? Because when you cut it later, you're not going to be able to cut from the wide to the close since those performances are so different.

This question comes about because I'm watching Stealth (yes, insert joke here) and Rob Cohen is shooting this one dialogue scene from like 50 different angles, and this actor's performance is just spot on matching from every single angle, and I'm thinking "that shit has got to be hard."

i guess what i'm asking is, once your'e on the set, do seasoned directors use the wide take as their template, and not stray from it from then on, so that all the perfromances match? Or, if they figure something new out halfway through the coverage, do they change it anyway, hoping to figure it out in editing? Or do they go back and do the wide takes again, with the new performance?

jhvid
11-18-2005, 07:33 AM
If the whole performance is different, then I don't see much way around it, but if parts of it match then you just cut on the matching parts (make sense?).

GenJerDan
11-18-2005, 08:24 AM
Does the scene even call for a master?

yagfxg33k
11-18-2005, 08:28 AM
I had to deal with this a bit on my short. And I knew going in that it would be a concern so when I auditioned the actors, I tested them on this (among other things). It paid off.

c.g._eads
11-18-2005, 10:09 AM
Gen, let's just assume that the scene calls for a lot of angles.

yaq, how did you test them?

yagfxg33k
11-18-2005, 10:31 AM
After they had suffient time to read the sides they were given, we discussed their interpretation of the character. Once we had an agreed upon approach, they played the scene that I told them to play. If they were able to repeat the performance (I did an average of 5 repeats with each one) and the level of performance was to my liking, they got on the short list.

Knock Out Films
11-18-2005, 10:31 AM
Gen, let's just assume that the scene calls for a lot of angles.

yaq, how did you test them?

If you have lots of angles I think it's assumed that you won't stay on the master very much. You'd be amazed how different the master can be from the inserts and no one will notice.

As a rule pro actors will deliver the close stuff different just because of the read-ability of the distance. What reads in the wide, reads too big in the close. I tend to use masters to maybe set geography and then that's it.

You have nailed one of the biggest issues with using non pro talent (not meant as a dig) but that there is so much technical associated with acting.

I never worry so much about looking for a non-actor to be able to replicate the same thing over and over. I look for someone who can do it as small as possible, that's the hardest part of acting. less, less, and then even less. Non-actors don't realize what will read, or how small something can be and still read.

Good luck

Cheers,
Chris

yagfxg33k
11-18-2005, 10:56 AM
I guess I can offer a specific instance here as well. As an example:

Actor is reading a book and another actor is seated to their left. In the first part of the conversation, the actor that is reading does not look up. When he does look up, the actor emotes some frustration. With the actor that I cast, he gave a small sigh and cleared his throat before turning to the other actor to speak.

Once they turn their head, the shot changes from that master 2 shot to OTS shots. So the actor that I cast was very consistant in their pacing of the scene as well as the use of the sigh and their clearing of their throat. And these were specific performance elements that I was paying attention to once I understood how they wanted to play the scene.

Other actors had different takes on this but again, the little things that they would do - body language and pacing were payed close attention to so that I could ensure I was getting consistant repeatable performances.

jpbankesmercer
11-18-2005, 11:48 AM
You usually use a wide as the establishing shot, most don't cut back unless you want to distance the action between characters or add new eliments once setup. You should try and keep the action the same throughout otherwise causing headache for editors. I'm writing something on the matter for the directing section...will post soon.
J.P.

profnoxin
11-18-2005, 01:04 PM
I would just like to second a point made above, that there is a whole hell of a lot you can get away with when you punch into the singles. If you've cut it, shown it to someone who is not insanely film savvy, and they don't notice it, I would freak too much. If you're really a perfectionist, just keep shooting until they do what you want. If you can't cause your producer is breathing down your neck, just get some solid B-Roll so you can cut around your actors straying from their performance. Good luck!

Moonwind
11-18-2005, 04:50 PM
If you can afford it, get a good script supervisor/continuity person. This one person could save directors and editors more headaches than just about anyone else on the set! (I beleive this to the point that I give continuity "cut" rights on the set to a certain degree.)

jpbankesmercer
11-18-2005, 05:13 PM
Good point Moonwind.

VizPictures
11-18-2005, 05:34 PM
If you don't have tons of cameras like John Woo to shoot all the angles at the same time, and if the actors do not deliver the same performance on each take, think about shooting cutaway shots when you're on the set. If the actors are too different between shots then use a cutaways.

kimko
11-18-2005, 07:00 PM
[QUOTE=Knock Out Films]If you have lots of angles I think it's assumed that you won't stay on the master very much. You'd be amazed how different the master can be from the inserts and no one will notice.

As a rule pro actors will deliver the close stuff different just because of the read-ability of the distance. What reads in the wide, reads too big in the close. I tend to use masters to maybe set geography and then that's it.

You have nailed one of the biggest issues with using non pro talent (not meant as a dig) but that there is so much technical associated with acting.

I never worry so much about looking for a non-actor to be able to replicate the same thing over and over. I look for someone who can do it as small as possible, that's the hardest part of acting. less, less, and then even less. Non-actors don't realize what will read, or how small something can be and still read.

Good luck, CHRIS QUOTE....WELL SAID ,I TOTALLY AGREE K.O. THATS WHAT I TRY TO DO EVERY TIME AS AN ACTOR AND TRY TO CONVEY IT TO THE OTHER ACTORS WITHOUT BEING A KNOW IT ALL..ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY'RE MESSING WITH MY PROFORMANCE

c.g._eads
11-18-2005, 11:51 PM
I don't think I explained myself very well. I'm not concerned with continuity in movements, I'm concerned with continuity in performance tone. If your actors give one kind of performance (aka very angry) through the first 3 angles, then either you realize or they figure out, a better performance, which they then use for the final 3 angles (aka "happier"). Now as a director, you know later on that you *will* need those first 3 angles when editing. So what do you do? do you go back and shoot those first 3 angles, cut around what you already have, or piss yourself?

I know that directors like to have their actors "try it this way" or "try it that way" when they're shooting. I just don't understand how they can be doing all this experimenting through different angles, since the performance will be all over the place. Or do they know that ahead of time and do something like

ANGLE 1 - TAKE 1 - MAD, TAKE 2 - NEUTRAL, TAKE 3 - HAPPY
ANGLE 2 - TAKE 1 - MAD, TAKE 2 - NEUTRAL, TAKE 3 - HAPPY

... so they have all three options on every angle when they edit later? Or do they plan the general performance ahead of time, and then do very slight deviations on-set?

I'm just thinking how much that must suck, as an actor, if you're already into the 4th angle of a particular scene, and you figure out a way to play it way better, you can't, because you've, essentially, locked yourself into a performance.

kimko
11-19-2005, 09:12 AM
rehearsals,set blocking and the script stick to the script, it's a drag when you get someone who is trying to do their own story (acting) and messing with your story

Jack Daniel Stanley
11-24-2005, 11:52 PM
Short answer -- if your scene has changed drastically in tone and arc then, yes that may be a problem.

Long Answer -- I teach acting for camera and its the actors job to make it match from master, to medium shots, to closeups, to EXCU, etc. A pro actor should know when they took the watch out of their pocket and do it then each time

BUT ... when you get to closeups and extreme closeups its the actors job to do it different every time so you have options in the editing room / so that it remains fresh and honest -- while still taking their watch out at the same time.

Now if your sceme has changed from a quiet conversation to hisytrionic shouting match from master to closeup, or something that extreme -- that's a problem.

Its your job to get everyone on the same page while you are doing those master shots. The arc of the scene should be clear even though the actors are saving just a little something for their closeups - unless of course you are shooting all in medium or in one take then of course they bring it all then.

If the tone of the scene does change drastically from master to closeup then you may want to:
A) shoot the master again
B) get some additional coverage -- like cutaways of their hands fidgeting or rearanging the salt and pepper shakers, or ducks in the pond where they are talking, or another good trick is to shoot their backs for one take -- that way you can cut in whatever dialogue in whatever tone you want there

What can you do if you didn't do any of the above on set?

Well ... use your establishing master and get to closeups early and play the rest of the scene in closeups. You can also sometimes fake the cutaways as pickups -- so if it's two gals chatting at dinner over a white table cloth -- then set up a white table cloth, put to gal friends in the actors' costumes, and have them toy with their food, trace the rim of a wine glass, etc. while you film closeups of their hands, then you can cut to that too to cover awkward tonal shifts or lack of continuity.

c.g._eads
11-25-2005, 12:45 AM
jdanstan, thanks. I learned a few good things in there.

Jack Daniel Stanley
11-25-2005, 12:54 AM
No problem ... probably goes without saying but I should mention that of course you want to ultimately make it look like cutting to the extreme closeup of the hand fidgeting with the pencil is a brilliant story telling choice when it may really just be damage control :)

GhostFace
11-30-2005, 12:36 PM
jdanstan. Great answer, that will help me out also. Very well explained.:thumbsup:

Jack Daniel Stanley
11-30-2005, 01:01 PM
My real training is as a director for theatre -- though the end result may be different it's a whole different ball game.

Most of what I have learned about working with actors has come from taking Camera Acting classes -- there's a big difference in this and scene study classes, which are more like rehearsing for a play.

So yeah -- see if you can get in an ON CAMERA acting class. Either as an actor or --- one thing I did -- I offered to shoot the class for a master teacher -- he was ecstatic - he didn't have to fumble withe the vide camera as he transitioned back and forth to lecture and scene work -- the camera was all set up and of course looked 10 times better than what the class was used to -- I've done it where I just shot and also where I participated in the class -- but either way, I didn't have to pay :)

But signing up for a good on camera acting class can really open up doors to the directorial process of working with actors. A good camera class should have the students working ON CAMERA almost all if not all of the time, and have the students reviewing their work on a monitor.

Things such as the actors responisbility take to take willl should be discussed and what it means to act in Master, Medium, Closeup, EX CU, etc. as each is subtley different, as well as the actors responsibility to continuity.

In a good class the actors can't help but learn a little about how a film is put together (master, medium, etc) and why continuity is important.

Conversly - a director posing as an actor in such a class will also learn about the actors process and what sort of cues or information an actor needs.

We all read and covet Barry's DVX book but working with actors is a much more ephimeral task than mastering the DVX yet this kind of training or technical ability is just not as sought for or reveared --- my feeling is that's partially due to just not knowing what's out there in terms of classes etc. and partly because acting, and the guidance of actors is underestimated as easy -- I mean it's just walking and talking -- who can't do that right :cheesy:

The Machinist
11-30-2005, 02:59 PM
So yeah -- see if you can get in an ON CAMERA acting class. Either as an actor or --- one thing I did -- I offered to shoot the class for a master teacher -- he was ecstatic - he didn't have to fumble withe the vide camera as he transitioned back and forth to lecture and scene work -- the camera was all set up and of course looked 10 times better than what the class was used to -- I've done it where I just shot and also where I participated in the class -- but either way, I didn't have to pay


I have also been lucky enough to land a position like this. I've learned tons of techniques for directing actors and working on continuity from master to medium to close-up. There are things that as a director i never thought of exploring with an actor before this class.

Not to mention the great stories about old hollywood and famous actors your mentor is more than happy to impart over a beer after class.

Jack Daniel Stanley
11-30-2005, 03:12 PM
Yeah my guy was in Close Encounters and worked for DePalma as the Killer in obsession and then had a smaller role in Blow out and he was Bill's Dad in Bill and Ted's Escellent adventure -- the one that had the young wife -- pretty cool.

I was actually going to ask him to Cameo in my Sci Fi but you have to write a letter 30 days in advance to get permission from SAG to use someone for free and you have to have a detailed production budget.

The Machinist
11-30-2005, 03:24 PM
SAG - The baine of a low-bugdet indie filmmaker's existence.

Jack Daniel Stanley
11-30-2005, 03:28 PM
TRue -- had you heard that though -- that if you send them a budget with lots of Zero's in it then you can get a waiver if you send it or if they receive it 30 days in advance or something like that.

Just wondering if that's true -- I haven't done it yet -- New Orleans is a right to work state so I work with some good actors here who avoid SAG, but Mac's credits are mostly LA and stuff so of course he's sag.

But have you heard that or do you know of anyone that's done that waiver thing?

The Machinist
11-30-2005, 03:33 PM
I had a friend who hired a few SAG actors for a short a few months back. He did go through the waiver process. Unfortunately i didn't really ask for specifics however he did complain about waiting for a preliminary reply. And though he was doing it 2 months in advance i think he was able to get a waiver in under a month.

The guidelines are online somewhere (Sag's website is a bitch to navigate) It might be possible if you get out the requisite forms this week or ASAP. Never hurts to try.

Good luck.

Jack Daniel Stanley
12-01-2005, 09:57 AM
yeah -- we have a future cop scenario -- Mac could easily cameo as the talking head big boss that yells at the cops on their little in car monitor, -- or hell he could be the badguy cop ... I should call him ...

kimko
12-01-2005, 04:36 PM
shit man i'm sag aftra i still do nonunion. i'm not a big star yet, but i will be, cause you guy's are up and coming directors and i will be working on your next project, oh by the way don't turn me in

kimko
12-01-2005, 04:38 PM
what the hell shit

kimko
12-01-2005, 04:39 PM
ah hell feces

khmuse
12-01-2005, 04:52 PM
poo poo man i'm sag aftra i still do nonunion. I'm not a big star yet, but i will be, cause you guy's are up and coming directors and i will be working on your next project, oh by the way don't turn me in

There is an unmarked vehicle departing from 5757 Wilshire right now with a Global One Rule tracking device tuned into the transponder located in your guild card. Run for the hills!

Actually, nearly every guild member still does non union work, but often they use a different name to give them a degree of deniability.

CallaghanFilms
12-01-2005, 04:56 PM
Yeah, kimko, DVXUser is now PG-13...
The B25 Mitchell that was carrying the
"F Bomb" has been grounded indefinitely.

Welcome back, by the way.

Oh and that's a two-way street...
Don't be forgetting us in your Oscar acceptance
speech, and we shan't forget to mention you
in ours.:beer:

Jack Daniel Stanley
12-01-2005, 04:59 PM
...Actually, nearly every guild member still does non union work, but often they use a different name to give them a degree of deniability.
yeah a college pofessor of mine - Bernie Engel, appeared as Bernie Anger and Bernie Angel LOL :laugh:

masada1903
12-01-2005, 09:43 PM
Keep in mind, almost all "Hollywood" pictures are done with at least pseudo-professional actors. They may not have much in the way of range, but they can repeat things over and over again and be spot on each time. When you're working with novice actors, everything changes.

Your project will be difficult to cut -- I ran into problems like that early on in my start, but you learn to work around it (and to avoid such changes in the future.) Most of this stuff should be worked out in rehearsal (IMO).

I know you say you have a lot of angles, but you might consider something really radical and use only a handful of cuts (or none at all.) Sometimes you over-cover things in shooting (I've done this) and then discovered I really only needed 3 cuts in the whole scene.

If you're filmming a scene and it's just not working, it is incumbent upon you as a director to change it, even if you have to throw out your earlier footage. Of course, the producers will try to kill you, but hey, whatever.

Beat Takeshi
12-17-2005, 12:21 PM
Rehearsals/Blocking I think would be the first thing to do to combat this. I shoot my rehearsals and we all view it at the end of the day, plus i give them a copy so they can watch it on thier own and make thier own adjustments. Its funny to watch them watch themselves and comment. This could be a hinderance at times where you love what they did and they hated it but I always get around it by having them do it they way they liked it and the way i like it so i can have the option.