Filmmaking Expert Magda Olchawska
Rehearsal is an important and integral part of any film production. I, personally, like to give myself as much time to work with the actors as possible so once in a production I can concentrate on shooting the film.
Below is the list of rehearsal techniques you may find useful.
- Stay loose.
- This is the time to have ideas and try them out. Even if you don’t try them all, just keep working on the ideas.
- What the character wants for the whole movie.
- When you are looking/analyzing the character, pay special attention to what seems to be the most important that has happened to him/her.
- Concentrate on the relationship between the characters, not the stage direction.
- Replace adjectives with action verbs, images, facts, events and physical life.
- Know what the movie is about.
- Know who the characters are and try to back up your ideas with evidence.
- Have alternatives in case your favourite ideas don’t work.
- Keep re-reading and re-thinking the script, and deepen your ideas.
- The directions that I think most actors respond to best are the ones that show insight.
- The proper purpose of rehearsal is to stimulate the actor’s emotions and imaginative side so on the set the actors can work well.
- It doesn’t matter whether you have half an hour to rehearse, set a schedule for it and plan tasks.
- Decide which scenes you are going to rehearse. Locate scenes that are continuous and can rely on one another.
PLAN FOR THE REHEARSAL
- Introduce people.
- Tell actors how you work.
- Make sure actors listen to one another and work honestly.
- Introduce the group of actors to work together.
- Let everyone talk about each other’s character.
- As a director ask questions while the actors are talking.
- Analyze the scenes with the actors.
THE GOALS OF REHEARSAL
- Make sure the actors are listening and work honestly, use themselves and find some authentic connection to the material.
- Investigate the text: explore questions, problems and possible meanings of individual lines and solve the structure of the scene.
- Block the scene and find the physical life.
- Establish the actor – director relationship, set up your system of communication, hear and try the actors’ ideas and smoke out their resistances.
- Before each scene take 5 minutes to talk about the scene and ask the actors if they have any questions or ideas. Take their concerns into considerations. Most of the time these are ideas to explore in rehearsal.
- Always set up the framework and goal of the rehearsal (This is to connect with the characters and relationships or to get at what is unspoken in the scene or it’s to work out physical activities).
- Discuss with the actors your policy regarding the stage direction.
- If you only have few minutes to rehearse, make sure the actors are listening to each other. This includes eye contact unless there is a reason not to and add some simple physical life.
- Ask as many questions as you can, this is one of the best directing techniques.
- We want the actors to feel they are making the direction because the director doesn’t know if the idea is working or not until the actor tries it out.
- Never tell the actors how and what to feel. Use facts and images, events, verbs and physical action to communicate with the actors.
- Decide what the character wants and stick to it, don’t change it.
- Don’t expect the actors to use their full emotional investment in rehearsal. In rehearsal we are looking for a choice that brings to life the scene’s structure and engages the actor’s interest. We aren’t looking for performance but the road that takes the actors to create the performance on the actual shooting day.
- At the rehearsal the actor should experiment with different ways of getting to what they will need on the set.
- Try as much as you want at the rehearsal and the most important thing is to establish the relationship between the actors.
Madga Olchawska’s Final Thought
Before you begin to improvise, you have to decide what the scene is about. You can still change your choice before the shooting of your scene. When you find the right choice, it will create the right behaviour and physical action of the character.
Ask QUESTIONS about the script and the character. It is also very important to know what the actor is thinking about the script. If he/she doesn’t like it, there is no point working with them.
If you get the feeling that the scene is not really working, choose the OPPOSITE/S to what the scene is about.
The character always NEEDS something from the other character or NEEDS to accomplish something within the scene or the whole film. Find what your character NEEDS and stick to it throughout the whole film.
SPINE is who a character is. Look for the real meaning of the character/person.
Usually each scene has a particular OBJECTIVE, which should be very simple and specific. Find playable objectives that will have both physical and emotional element.
What do you think about rehearsing with your actors ? Please rate Madga Olchawska.
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