Hi guys (and I say that to mean all sexes, I’m from Ohio...)
First of all, Good Work! I know the issues involved (which will often be involved) but I appreciated the work that went into the scenes very much. (And, Griff, I second Amy’s compliment in terms of growth.)
All of you had a nice relationship with your actors and sat in the director’s chair with respect & appreciation for your actors and they for you. Dillon, I appreciated your thoughts about the characters (even if you didn’t get a chance to go into all that with your actors) and Jon, I totally understood the extra difficulty factor you had with the inexperienced actress. That really does slow down the process. So everyone take note. (In fact, not that this was an option for you Jon, but sometimes you’ll be better off recasting a role with a better actor late than struggling through with a less experienced or skilled actor even if you’ve already put in a lot of rehearsal time. The time you put in will have been valuable for you to clarify your thoughts as Jon mentioned. Just having to articulate something helps clarify it in your mind and then you’ll be able to cut to the chase more quickly with the more experienced actor and then all is well n the universe (....or something like that.))
And just some quick notes/thoughts about last night before I move on to other careers here:
PHYSICALITY in working with Adam in Dillon’s scene, I got the idea of going for the nails from him also the idea of crawling across to them. I saw the impulse to go for the nails flicker across him and then he went into his head and instead thought to get up and talk to her. So I simply helped clear the brush from a path that was his impulse (even though he was not necessarily conscious of it.)
OTHER ACTOR You’ll notice in the therapy scene as well as the hotel room scene, I worked (in the limited time) mostly with the one who was FORWARDING THE ACTION. To work with how someone responds to something that hasn’t happened yet, is asking them to be untruthful. Once we get the guys (in this case) clear on what they are doing and how they are going about it, then how the other responds may naturally happen and/or then you can guide and direct possible options.
For example, I never got a chance to address Arlene (the prostitute) in Dillon’s scene. She is a beautiful girl who has done many intense dramas in my class, but in Jay’s scene last term, she discovered for the first time she could be in a comedy, but she still insists she doesn’t do comedy. What she brought, though, was a reality that helped ground the scene. For her, after we had Adam in the general ballpark of what we wanted, I would have moved to her to intensify the comedy of the scene. For example, he could explode at one moment -say with ‘manicure’ and she could fall out of the chair, or what if after manicure, he went another direction and started weeping she could weep with him, or be extremely uncomfortable tying to figure out what to do, or maybe even be disgusted. And there’s no limit to where you can go (with this kind of comedy i.e. Farce) - he could hold on to her leg as she tries to get out and she could drag him across the floor, we could have really gotten into all sorts of comic fetishy stuff with the nails, etc. etc.
PHYSICAL COMEDY CONTINUED...
Also at the end of the scene, it was really the actor agreeing to fall, but there was no reason for him to fall there. It was simply an actor choosing to drop. No reality. If we’d had time, we could have done many versions of that, for example, “All right I’ll have sex” - he could drop his pants and then go for her and trip over his own pants (assuming of course he’s got frumpy boxers on.) Maybe the scene ends with him crawling to the box of press-on nails trying to work out other kinky possibilities or maybe he sucks his thumb holding the press-on nails as a teddy bear, I don't know, anything's possible.
And, of course, the same could be said for Griff’s scene which was actually written in almost the same style and we didn’t get a chance to address the physicality at the end, but it could have gone into some wild things, but I would still make sure every moment was physically & emotionally justified which does not take from the comedy. But first I’m going for what’s going on BEFORE where and how someone moves. If I just tell them where to move and when, that’s all I’m going to get and that’s all they are going to focus on. I never gave a movement without connecting it to what they wanted & how they were trying to get it. (That’s a subtle note to notice if all your directions are blocking and if so, tell them why they’re doing it i.e. What they want and how they’re trying to get it.)
And, by the way, in Griff’s scene what I whispered to the two actors in that section we worked on - I first whispered to him “you’re like a kid who wants mommy” when he was told to leave (and his body language became much less threatening or menacing), then I whispered that he was seducing her. And that’s when he put his hand out to her and I said “how would you really do that? You wouldn’t do it like that, would you?” and then he leaned on the wall and you all laughed THAT was how that particular guy would seduce and we got what was going on and how he’s good at weaving his way into this woman’s psyche.
What I whispered to her at the beginning of that section was “you know, there’s just something attractive about him - yes, it’s disturbing , but you just can’t help being attracted to him” and the next time through I repeated it. I whispered those things, because I didn’t want her thinking about that he was seducing her and I wanted him to work harder to get her, so I didn’t want him to know she was attracted, but it would definitely be possible to say those things publicly. I know of some directors who do everything privately and sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s annoying (especially if they take too long because you’re wanting, as the actor, to get on with it and he’s off whispering for a long time to each actor it can make the other actors feel left out you have to judge/balance it but it’s a valuable tool.)
I’m just vamping here as fast as I type, but I just wanted to give you the idea of the possibilities, since I doubt we’ll have other opportunities to work on this kind of comedy. I can go a whole term and no one brings in comedy and certainly not farce. (So it’s rare for me to get to address it in a film directing class, and thus it was a fun opportunity, thank you Dillon & Griff. I love working on comedy.)
You’ll notice that with Adam I was throwing in a lot of ‘as ifs’ but with the young girl in Jon’s scene (sorry can’t remember her name) - I went very much into objectives and really painting the story from HER TRUTH but I wasn’t handing her a painting to memorize, I was asking her and letting her talk and as she did, she went into her own understanding and I don’t know if you guys were aware of it, but as I was talking with her she began crying that’s when I said, “ok, we’ve got some feelings naturally coming up here, let’s use those, that’s all good” (or something like that.) I had been speaking privately and intimately with her, so that she was feeling taken care of and then when I said use that on her entrance she did. In this case, the other actor could hear what was going on, so that he was appreciating the care that was going into it and he didn’t feel ‘left out’ but recognized the value of the exploration. (Or so I am assuming. Ask him.)
I didn’t spend much time going into back-story with either of the guys in the comedy although I was always honing in on and repeating objectives and how they get them.
A last thought about comedy, that naturally happened at times in both of the comic scenes, is QUICK SHIFTS. That’s one real secret to good comedy (along with timing and well, there’s a lot more it’s hard to teach comedy, if not impossible. What’s the old quote? “Dying is easy, Comedy is hard.”
Ok, I wanted to spew all that out since I’ll have forgotten it by Sunday night.
I’m sending a separate email with the 40 min. Shoot schedule.