Thursday, May 29, 2008

Third Rehearsal

Went over the big scene again today-- the dreaded "Sequence E"-- and it's continuing to come along nicely. Did a fair amount of blocking-- unusual for us. Actors should be off-bookish by our next rehearsal (Tuesday) and that will greatly improve the flow of the rehearsal process.

Shooting should start the second Saturday of June, which gives us a slightly longer rehearsal process than we anticipated. (Not that we're complaining.) Shooting should wrap before the end of August, if we stick to a once-a-week schedule. If we can kick it up a notch with a couple of week-night shoots, and if we avoid the need for reshoots, we might finish earlier. Post-production should occur concurrently with shooting, and the film should be completely done by the middle or end of September.

Fingers crossed.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rehearsal 2.5

David couldn't make it today, so we had a rehearsal just with Adrienne, our lead actress. We spent the bulk of the time on a very difficult scene, and the progress we made was surprisingly rapid.

The thing about Adrienne that's spectacular is that she really and truly listens and understands. We've worked with other actresses in the past who were very difficult to work with: they'd do a scene a particular way, and we'd offer a suggestion, and then they'd do the scene over the exact same way. Or, no matter how the other persons in the scene acted and reacted and changed their performance, they'd give their same performance in response. We often had to phrase and rephrase a direction eleven different ways to get people to give a different performance, and sometimes even then it'd still be the same.

But not so with Adrienne: we give her a suggestion and she follows it through; she also knows how to play off the people around her. It's a special sort of gift that's actually much rarer than you'd expect in an actress.

She's also done a lot of thinking about the character and her back-story, and more importantly than that, she's done smart thinking about pertinent aspects of the character and her back-story-- those things that will actually make a difference in her performance, and not idiotic minutae like "what did my character have for breakfast" or "who did she vote for on American Idol"?

More to come as it happens.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Second Rehearsal

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.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

First Rehearsal

First rehearsal went well enough. We've got quite a few rough spots to smooth out, but I've got a feeling they'll smooth out quickly. A lot of this film will be dependent upon body language and movement within a scene, and so once we have the actors somewhat off-book it'll be much easier to accurately gauge how we're doing.

We've worked with both of these actors before. Our male lead, David, has a tendency to forget/misplace his scripts, and so, about fifteen minutes before the rehearsal, I called to remind him to bring it. He did bring a script-- but he brought the wrong one: the script from last year's production. We all found this fairly amusing.

We have another rehearsal set for this Friday. We'll see how we're coming along at that time; we plan on starting to shoot in about two or three weeks, if everything's up to snuff.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Two major cast members signed on last night, with tentative confirmations for three of the five remaining parts. First rehearsal for the leads will be Tuesday.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Script Completed

After four months, the script for our new film is completed. This will serve as our defacto website, in which we track the casting, rehearsals, production, and beyond.