Filmmaking day 3 : Lightning and Directing


Lightning was tutored by Julian Doyle, who has worked on a wide range of things, from Monty Python to Terry Gilliams Brazil, and also on Kate Bush music videos. He had a lot to say about lightning, showed a lot of examples through film clips and some films will never be the same after he told us how they have done some light effects and also how they have tricked a lot of scenes. It was, again, very interesting.

In the afternoon James Larkin taught us a bit about directing actors. James Larkin happened to look not entirely unlike Anthony Head, he actually looked like him quite a lot, he was a very charming guy, nice voice, very enthusiastic and nice, and I had no problems to stay focused on everything he had to tell us.

One of the first questions he asked was how we looked at actors as persons. While some people came up with the usual prejudices like “cocky, demanding, overrated and over the top”, I couldn’t really answer. The only actor I know more than average about is (and these are his own words) self-conscious, nervous, not cocky all, and thinks that acting is a job where he can wear suits all the time (well he gets away with that last thing quite often).

James, being an actor himself, told us that most actors indeed are very nervous and self-conscious. And while things might look easy while we see them doing it in films we watch, we forget, or are just unaware of the fact that filming a particular scene means an actor standing in front of a big group of people watching his every move, having a camera in his face, a mike nearly under his nose – and people wanting him to deliver his lines without errors. If they are lucky they have normal clothes on, but a love scene must be a tad worse even. The thought alone is freaking me out, and one of the reasons why I am not really pursuing a career as an actor. Take the self-consciousness of Nighy and multiply that by a 1000, and you have me.

So a good director is aware of all that, and directing is very much about treating people in a decent way and with respect.
We did some practical exercises, we built up a set, and had to direct 2 actors in some short scenes from a script. And while I totally messed it up, it gave a good impression about the enormous amount of things a director should juggle with. The most difficult thing for me was to actually call the shots. As both actors, Assistant directors, camera men and sound people all would like to have their say in how the shot would be filmed. I need to change my “OK let’s talk about it guys” attitude to “thanks for all your input – but this is how we are going to do it”. That certainly is something I need to work on.

Next Sunday will be our shooting day. This is where we (2 by 2) are going to shoot a short clip with a professional actor from a script we had to write ourselves. We were not totally free in deciding what it is about, as a main thing that had to be included is that it should be about a man who is obsessed by his Teddy Bear. And I would not be me, if I hadn’t managed to get a reference to Love Actually into our script. I think we’ll get the result on a DVD after the course, and when possible I will upload it somewhere so you can have a look.

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