Thursday, 15 April 2010

Tip #29: The importance of rehearsals

By Dan Parkes (Director)

The quicker you can shoot the more money you will save. Feature films such as Phone Booth -shot in just 10 days- are a good example. And one of the keys to achieving this is to rehearse important scenes with your actors prior to filming. Here are 12 tips:
  1. Professional actors should be more than happy and in fact want to rehearse, but make sure that you have already discussed this and have worked out the situation regarding expenses etc
  2. Select scenes that are critical to the story narrative and that actors may have difficulty with, due to the amount of dialogue, or subtle character development.
  3. Make sure both you and the cast involved have copies of the most recent shooting script and are familiar with what scenes are to be rehearsed.
  4. Choose an appropriate location with furniture and layout that will assist the rehearsal -ideally the actual shoot location.
  5. Use the rehearsal as a time to also check wardrobe choices, to sign contracts and to check schedules for the shoot.
  6. At the beginning of the rehearsal firstly check with the cast if they have any questions regarding the scene or their character.
  7. Start with a read-through of the script -depending on the nature of the scene some may want to by-pass this step.
  8. Once you are happy with the read-through, try the scene in its entirety, progressing on to blocking options, body language and pronunciation if necessary.
  9. If a scene is not working, tell the actors to forget the script and to improvise. This will help identify the main dynamics of the scene and more natural lines of dialogue may result.
  10. Use rehearsals to explore creative options; be ready to change the script based on what happens.
  11. Always film the rehearsal so you can start exploring camera angles (make sure this is covered in the contract!).
  12. Have possible 'boot camp' options -for example our lead actor Jos Lawton spent some time working in a restaurant kitchen so that he would look authentic in his role of a restaurant chief.

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