Lights, camera, action!
You’re likely picturing a director in a typical director’s chair speaking in a megaphone. Everything is glamorous.
What’s more accurate is lights……. camera……………… wait for it ……………. action. Oh, a giant bus drove by. Cut.
This week we began filming our scenes. The first day, we were set to film a two-person scene of the other two girls in class and one with all three of us. The two-person scene was on the steps of our flat, the other inside. Because there are only three of us, my professor had a friend come to help.
We decided to film the stoop scene first, and just as we finished putting all of the equipment together, it started raining. So, we changed a line about it being hot out to being cold, protected the camera and actors with umbrellas, and “kept calm and carried on.” Since I wasn’t in the scene, I operated the boom, which didn’t get an umbrella, so in between takes I found shelter in the doorway.
The rain wasn’t bad, but our normally quiet street was, that day, extremely popular. I’ll be interested to see what my professor will be able to piece together in editing because it was so noisy. It’s also amazing that people walking by didn’t clue in that there was a camera, so they maybe shouldn’t talk. We are lucky, though, because apparently there’s a law you can’t have a camera with a tripod in public without a permit. So, at least no policemen walked by.
With all of those interruptions, the three-person scene was pushed back to the next day. Our scene is from Rachel Getting Married where Rachel (my character) has to tell her druggie sister that she chose her friend over her as maid of honor. However, the dramatic reaction from the sister results in a maid of honor change. There’s a lot of back and forth between the friend and the sister, so this scene became difficult for me because of continuity. I sat in between them and would have to react to the ping pong match, but because there were multiple camera takes, it was my responsibility to react in the same way each time. As I’m mostly a theatre actor, this was difficult because I’m used to following my impulses and making new discoveries each time. Because I was focused on the continuity, I think my acting may have suffered. It would be nice to have quality material for my reel, but if it doesn’t turn out, at least I got experience in front of the camera and no one’s film is at stake.
The most recent scene was my first two-person scene, and this time I was a lot less in my head. It took awhile to figure out the best staging and set-up for the scene for technical reasons, but once we got going, it was nice. We filmed the entire scene over my shoulder to get my partner’s shots. We began filming the scene again from over her shoulder, but then we ran out of time to finish the scene from that perspective. It’s really hard to only have 3.5 hours and a film crew of 2.
We only have one class day left to film my other two-person scene and our monologues.
I was hoping that this film workshop would give me a sense of if I enjoy film vs. theatre, but I don’t think this was an accurate representation of what it would be like. This is partly because we’re so short on time, so we’re rushing to do a scene each day with different characters, rather than going on set each day with the same character for one film.
In watching some of our exercises and recordings of our previously-learned monologues, I am taking away a hunger to do more. Live theatre is great, and I love the connection with an audience, but I also love the permanence of film. Film also allows for a lot more subtleties in acting, which is intriguing. Thank goodness I have another year of school left which will hopefully be full of opportunities and self discovery.