These couple days of shooting was the result of everything we had been working towards for the last 9 weeks.
WE DID IT AND IT WAS AMAZING.
We shot over two days – Saturday & Sunday. On the Saturday morning I came 2 hours earlier to meet with the actors and go through the script, subtext, backstory and do a couple more exercises with them while I had the chance. While I did this the others set up the set.
……….Now back to our actors!
The exercise I did with the actors consisted of me interviewing a character as if I was their landlord and they were wanting to rent one of my rooms. I asked detailed information about their history, traumatic events, happy times, their current situations (incl. jobs and hobbies) and what their future goals, aspirations and plans were as well as why they want to move into this house specifically. I had already given them plenty of life information that they just had to fill in the blanks and string it all together into coherent logical answers. I also interviewed each of them in their characters.
Brenton, the actor playing Brody, had it a bit easier so he nailed it from the get go. Unfortunately Jamie, the actor playing Jakim had such a complex, difficult character that he still struggled with his gay voice, more specifically the rhythm and flow of it. In areas it was quite rigid and rose in inflection at the end of every word. In short – it didn’t sound natural. To combat this I encouraged him to take his time with every sentence and not to punch the words out. I also got him to engage in conversation with one of the gay men on my crew who was also quite flamboyant – this helped his body movement (slinking walk, chest up, butt out, every angle a pose).
EVERY. ANGLE. A. POSE.
I then made him method act. He was not to break character throughout the whole production whether he was talking to some crew members or just me, he was always Jakim. This he did very well, I pushed him and it produced a fantastic response on screen. Because of these exercises during rehearsal and pre-production, there was minimal warm-up time during the start of the shoot and we just got straight into it and it saved time in the end.
Something I need to work on is organisation and time.
If you know me, you know that I’ve always had a shaken relationship with both concepts. In saying this, I was very early to the shoot but when it came to the actual filming a few things came up.
As is the requirement as a director, I had written a very thorough shot-list with the DP (Euan). However, when it came to the montage sequence of the characters getting drunk together, I knew I would be winging it a bit and just going with how it felt. Just before you judge me, let me explain that for this particular scene I was working with my characters that probably ‘do alcohol’ better than I do. So I made the choice to give them leeway and go off the script and they had a great time together, it looked more natural, and we got some better shots than I planned for. Being the only one to know this information my 1st Assistant Director (1st AD – aka the timekeeper) was not happy with me until I explained to him my plan, I put off telling him because I knew he wouldn’t understand it and like it (being a man that likes order and structure). However, after he saw the result he was cool with it and trusted me a little more. I understand this method of directing can be alarming and hazardous, but I got a good result, I always get a good result and I trust it. But for the sake of my crew, I’ll need to be brave and communicate my intentions from the very start – or simply disguise this method as more organised so there’s less panic.
Of course there was other issues like the focus was off at certain points so I’d call for another take, sometimes the acting needed modification so I’d call for yet another one. With all these things to factor in we generally went overtime by 1.5hrs. Which I feel is very disrespectful and unprofessional towards my actors and crew, but on the other hand it’s extremely common within film too. My 1st AD then revealed to me that he was being generously optimistic with his scheduling. If I had known that I might have been more lenient on myself so I’m glad he kept it from me.
Below is another photo of Henry working hard at keeping the silks and materials from Jakim’s room attached to the roof which generally came down every 3-4 minutes. While he was busy doing that I was helping him stick up posters so we can save time.
In Essence, I learnt
To be more communicative
That it is ridiculously easy to go over-time
To trust myself and my actors
But I’m also pleased with:
I directed the actors to the best of my ability and got a great result.
Trusting myself when it comes to my methods – they work wonderfully!
Giving positive feedback where it was due to all my crew and actors after every shot (it is easy to see mistakes unfortunately, but positive encouragement is a better motivator than criticism).
The positive atmosphere I encouraged.
Everyone worked so ridiculously hard and it was so hot so tempers could have easily risen. Instead of getting frustrated at each other we instead helped each other out where we could and it went SO SMOOTHLY. I had the most diverse group of sweet, lovely people who were good at what they do. I’m stoked with the footage we capture and can’t wait to show you guys what we’ve put together when it’s ready for viewing.