Second went better than the first. We got a late start, and the energy was pretty low this time around, but we covered more ground and made more progress. We talked a little about how David, our lead actor, should approach his character, Nick.
Nick's a very angry man, and he gets to do a fair amount of shouting and hand-flailing and teeth-gnashing; all that fun stuff, and David pretty much pulls this off when his energy is up and he'll be really kicking ass with it when he gets those lines down-pat. (Glares at David.)
What we have to work on is the emotional valleys-- those sections where he's not yelling, shouting, and being generally ridiculous. We want to strike a balance between two or three somewhat mutually exclusive things:
One, we want a distinct enough difference between Angry Nick and Not Angry Nick, beyond merely the fact that Angry Nick is loud and Not Angry Nick is not so loud. We want to work on some body language and vocal inflections that allow the audience, and the other characters, to appreciate the differences.
Two, we want Nick to be funny/amusing/watchable in the Not Angry sections of the film, though of course probably not as funny/amusing/watchable as he is when he's fuming and growling.
Third, we don't actually want a difference between Angry Nick and Not Angry Nick; Nick is angry all the time. Sometimes, he's holding the anger inside him, and sometimes he lets it out. This anger enters all his contact with other people, and, to a degree, poisons it.
So, while the audience should be amused both in the valleys and the hills, and while the audience (and the other characters) should be taken aback when he gets mean and nasty, at the same time, there has to be something there that makes it all fit, that makes the characterization congeal instead of being schizoid, that makes the other characters say, "I should have seen that coming after all."
So that, in those "valley" sections of the film, Nick is still interesting to watch. He still holds our attention. We can still see the anger inside him, and we can see him struggling to control it and/or deny it exists.
That's our goal. We consider ourselves to be cultivators of fine, fresh ambivalences-- delicious and nutritious!-- but we also realize that if you tell an actor to do two things at once, especially if those two things are exact opposites, you're not going to get anything but a frustrated actor.
And so, all of us-- directors and actor alike-- will be working on this problem. And I think we've made some progress, and, like I said, I think we'll make some more progress once our actors have learned their lines. (Glare.)
It's not so much, I must add, that we're Syllable-Nazis-- that every single comma must be pronounced in exact order. While I dare say that this film is more verbal than its predecessor, The Man Who Loved, and so a higher devotion to the words on the page are necessary, we've never wanted in any case for our lines to be followed so slavishly that they shackle the actors and kill the film.
We want the film to be alive, and moving, and breathing; we want to ensure it has a pulse, and that the actors mean what they say even if they don't say everything we jotted down for them. But once they have learned their lines (ahem: glare), then they'll have a framework. Then we'll be able to discover things about the characters and find ways-- verbal and non-verbal, through inflection and body language and movement-- that express what needs expressing.
I think we're coming along fairly well, and after we've gotten further along in the process, we'll record some of the rehearsals and provide them here for your audio-visual enjoyment.