Directing Actors…

So I wrote my little opus, re-wrote it after some criticism, and then I had to cast it.  I wanted to use honest to God good actors, and I found them.  I also wanted to tap into SAG and AFTRA talent.  That meant I had to abide by their rules.  I was no blockbuster, and I was as small as small could be, but at the time SAG worked with me.  I learned about their rules and regulations, and they gave me a low-budget film agreement.  Now in todays market SAG and AFTRA have modified agreements for filmmakers, and that includes ultra- low budget agreement.  We’ll go over them another time here in the blog because they can be detailed, and I want to talk about them more in detail.  The above actors were my main characters.  I did a film with limited actors and limited locations because I knew if I didn’t I would be shooting myself in the foot.  So hence these were my choices for “Deadly Obsessions“.

First off I could not be more happy with my choices.  They were professional, fun, understanding, and just plain awesome. The above headshots are old ones and these were the ones I first saw.  Their credits were impressive, and they gave a stellar audition.  At some time I will upload their auditions so you’ll be able to see how they got the job, but I have to say first that I saw a lot of talented actors during the audition.  Making up my mind took awhile.  My wife, her dad, and a friend all sat in on the auditions.  I recorded them, and watched them a lot after the auditions.  We provided a continental breakfast during the auditions .  It included bagels, cream cheese, some fruits, and vegetables.  We had tea and coffee as well.  After all if people were going to show up for nothing the best I could offer them is some grub.  My wife was a BIG help here and she also helped cater the feature film too.  Everyday she would leave for work as our apartment got swallowed up with production gear, actors, and crew.  Indie production helps when you have a supportive team or family because chaos will be the norm of the day.  It’s up to you to make sense of it, and hopefully you’ll have a crew that will help you.  I did, and it  helped immensely.  More rehearsal, and more prep with the crew would have helped also, but money was tight and I was forced to do it the way I did it.

Okay this is about directing actors so let me start by explaining how I went about it. We had little time to rehearse.  I had an evening to go over things with the actors while they settled into their accommodations.  We had also talked over the phone and through emails before they arrived.  I learned a lot from my actors and was impressed on how they went about their part.  Irene made notes on her script.  All of the actors knew their lines, and when I heard some of it we changed it.  I listened to the actors and they made some great suggestions.  The script was dialogue heavy, and some of it did not work, but instead we all pulled together.  Their was one scene that took place in a room.  It was long to say the least.  What we did was break the scene up into three scenes.  We then rehearsed the actors in each scene.  In a way we blocked for the camera.  The camera was stationary for most of the movie, and their was little movement, but what I do remember from all those film classes was mis en scene, the setting or surroundings of an event or action.  What I tried to do was choreography the actors in the scene.  One was in foreground while the other was in the background, and by using their movement I could change the shot by panning or even zooming.  If anything I had heeded my film instructors words: “hide the zoom”.  It worked, and made the scenes better.  When you use professionals you get all the benefits of their craft.  I learned a lot from my actors, and I found out that I really like working with actors.  I just wish I would have not overstretched myself in having to do almost everything, but again circumstances dictated what I had to do in order to get the film in the can.

Irene Glezos played Rebecca, Karen Stanion played Lisa, Nick Capous played Marty, and Michelle Verhoven played Monica.  These were not the only actors in the film, but they were the principals, and had the most scenes.   If I could make any suggestions to any filmmaker it would be set up a read through, and then maybe a rehearsal.  The read through would be a better place for all to get to know each other, and you’ll be able to hear the words of the script out loud.  Two to one you’ll make changes there, and it’ll be for the better.



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