What does a film maker do? What goes on in a typical Day?
Maybe the director has some excellent ideas and talent bursts from every pore, but guess what? he is going to miss something. We all do. And when what happens, it’s usually the most seemingly unimportant damn thing in the world that messed up a take or keeps him from making the best movie he could make. Things that he never expected to happen, they happened. This has probably happened to all of them who have directed films. He was focusing on his main actors; they were giving the performance of their lives. Afterwards, to celebrate a job well done, a look back at the footage later during a party and he realizes that one of your background actors was looking straight at the camera the whole time. This should be something film maker discovers on day one. It’s frankly speaking, quite frustrating.
‘They should have their shoot list memorized’, ‘emotional arc of the scene moves forward and backwards’ etc. but all it takes is one extra in the background to ruin all of that work! And the issue is not only an extra making a silly mistake. Sometimes directors forget that extras are actors too, and need direction other than, “Yeah go over there and point at that landmark.” They help them find their motivation and also by helping them to give great performance. It might seem like overkill until they have the best take of the day, because an extra take wasn’t given to their attention.
Don’t save the best for last.
Directors keep everybody on set for longer time than originally planned. You say “oh, it’ll just take 5 hours.” Because of perpetual ignorance and over-optimism of how long a shoot is going to take, the work is slow to start and gain momentum, because, “Hey, we’ve got plenty of time.” But you don’t have that much. Soon you will find yourself at the end of the day running around the set, herding actors and crew; you’ve completely abandoned your complicated stabilization rig and you’re shooting handheld now, because it’s faster.
Scheduling more Tissue Scenes will ease the tension and pressure of your actors. Those are your connective scenes in between the greater dramatic moments—often, they’re the parts that end up on the cutting-room floor. Another option is to save shorter scenes for the end of the day or shot scenes that aren’t as emotionally difficult for actors to perform. It’s hard for actors to get to a dark emotional place if they know that you’re wrapping in 45 minutes.
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