The Acted Words
While storyboarding a scene last night I noticed that I will really need to know the scene from the written story. The storyboards won’t be enough of a guide. With many of my past projects the storyboards were enough.
I am the actor in the opening scene of this project. My character is based on myself as a young adult around the time I left home to attend art school (pictured above). For reasons I will get into at another time, I will also be shooting the scene on my own. I was thinking that for these scenes that I am shooting and acting in, I will have to have the written script available in order to remember the gist of the scene and how the shots work together cohesively. I usually build projects shot by shot using the storyboards as my main guide, and I even like the idea of each shot carrying its own flavor and energy.
I thought about the logistics of having to read the story while I am shooting and thought that it would slow things down and be a little nerve-racking, but then I thought about how a scene should be worked and realized that what I have to do is first walk through the scene as an actor. I have to see the scene as if my room and the backyard is a set, a theatrical stage and do all the actions that are in the story just as I would if I lived the story and was actually doing these things. I'm kind of excited about doing this. I can even record rehearsals with the camera in a wide shot only then review the acting. I usually shoot as if I'm shooting action scenes or montages, working each moment with new angles and shot sizes. That won’t work with this story. Things need to be paced by the people in the story and not by the filmmaker. For the opening scene, I need to be an actor first and do the whole scene first as actor.
Covering a Scene Respect for Acting
There are steps to best cover a scene. The first step would be to let the actor go through the scene as if they are living it, inhabiting the character. The next step would be for the director to watch this acted scene and think about the best way to cover it (capture it on film/video), while respecting the pace and flow set up by the actor. If the scene is approached shot for shot, it's good to back up to an earlier part of the scene and have the actor walk into the current shot already acting.
Skeletons and Runways - Analogies of Cinematic Acting
Letting the actor know and live the scene puts a lot of control and understanding of the scene into the actor's hands. They get the chance to live the scene and the director gets the chance to figure out how to cover the scene with all the shots and angles while having a clear structure to work with. Using a skeleton as an analogy, the skeleton is the acted scene, and then the director builds on that, fleshing it out with cinematic techniques. Another analogy would be the dressed up fashion model walking up the runway. The cinema is the dress and the actors are the body walking up the runway. If the actor/body walks in a way that is awkward or self conscious, there isn't much that the clothing can do to alter that. This isn't to minimize the actor or the model. The model's great achievement is the confident inhabiting of their own body with a sense of beauty and intrigue and attitude no matter what they wear - no easy feat for anyone.
Above (in photo) are wardrobe ideas for two characters, one female and one male. I'm sticking to the red, black and white motif for these characters. The clothing I was thinking would be a best attempt at early 1980s fashion. The t-shirt is my design, using a stenciled mask of masking tape for the lines. The other items are a bit of a mish mash but that was the 80s.