Session One: Intro
1) Introduction to the workshop, and to each other
- Why this workshop?
- Alan Heim, Network and the studio system.
- Too much burden on actors to figure all this out on their own (and pay for their own education).
- Huge need for all of us to communicate better, and to understand one another's crafts and needs.
- We love every aspect of filmmaking, and want to share our awe at what everyone contributes to the process.
- Representative Learning
- Our goal is for all of us to work together to create a curriculum/manual/guide/resource that we can share with others for free afterward.
- So...you'll be asking questions and exploring answers on behalf of every other actor who might eventually use the material that we create together.
- We chose the individuals in this group because we think you're all smart and engaged, and that you'll be supportive of one another and help one another feel safe to take risks and ask questions.
- We want each of you to push everyone to think deeply, so that we end up with something strong and useful. Please don't be shy about raising questions and concerns.
- "Help create for others what you would create for yourself."
- Introductions all around, including:
- Your name.
- Your filmmaking experience so far.
- Your singular areas of expertise and experience -- what do you bring that can help others in the group?
This workshop is NOT an acting class. We chose all of our participants by audition, and we believe that you have the tools to develop your characters and objectives and so on. Our goal is instead to help you explore how your work connects with that of all the other artists and craftspeople involved in the making of a movie. We want you to feel that you're in a safe environment to take risks, and to stretch yourselves, and to make mistakes, because those are the best ways to learn.
- Class Style
- This is meant to be an on-going conversation, not a lecture.
- Please ask questions as they come up.
- Enlighten and educate us – what's new/surprising/confusing to you?
- The Heart of the Project: Collaboration
- 100% Syndrome
- Learn about everyone else’s work.
- The better we can collaborate, the better our projects will be.
- False dichotomy between “creative” and “technical”
- How Filmmaking Differs from Stage
- ALL THE SCENES IN A MOVIE ARE SHOT OUT OF ORDER -- The director's job is to help you find the right energy for each scene.
- Multiple set-ups and takes
- Stop-and-start repetition
- Might work in very small pieces.
- Continuity (Lots more on this in Sessions Two (editing) and Three (camera)
- Set differences: Real-world locations vs. contained, stylized spaces where the audience has agreed to accept the artifice.
- Production Workflow - A bird's eye view of the filmmaking process. (Every project will be different, but these are common ways of working.)
- Hard separations between phases is blurring
- On a good set, everyone in the crew loves what they do as much as you love acting.
- Who's who in the crew, and what do they do?
- Here is a list of the crew people you're mostly to interact with.
- EVERYONE IS TERRIFIED! (And the thing that many directors are most terrified of? The actors.)
3) Shooting a Scene
We're going to shoot a single short scene all together. This is OUR approach. Every other director, every other set WILL be different. There are no rules, though by tradition, there are certain conventions. We're close to the classical model of filmmaking, though we have our own variations. (Along the way, we'll let you know some major things that might be different on other people's sets.)
- First, we need a crew...
- Read through the scene once.
- That single read-through is more rehearsal than you might get on some projects.
- Block, light, shoot.
- Come ready to work: Blocking is not a formality to be rushed through, it's one of the most creative parts of the process. Be completely present, in Patsy Rodenberg's "second circle."
- What is the story that we're telling? What is the heart of this scene?
- Walk through possible coverage of our scene.
- Getting the story off of the page and into tangible form
- Establishing the boundaries of the fictional world
- Addressing roadblocks, physical and otherwise
- Be nimble, be flexible.
- The most basic coverage
- Master, over, over, single, single.
Extra Resources, Follow-Up
We've started a list of books, videos and resources we think might be good supplements to the work we do in each session; please let us know if there are other things you think we should add. (Also please let us know if it's good to have this list at the end of each class session like this, or in one big master list, or both.)
- Watch the feature film Living in Oblivion (Tom DiCillo, 1995).
- Watch the 15-minute short film Scene.