TIPS06: How to Find Your Shots While Directing Actors in Rehearsal – Filmmaking Tips from the Trenches

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Directing Actors in Rehearsal

In this episode of “Film Tips from the Trenches” I wanted to show you how I discover many of my shots while the rehearsal process with my actors. During pre-production of my short film BROKEN, I shot all my rehearsal. I have since done that on every project I direct.

While working at my video store job in high school I was watched a documentary of one of my favorite films “Dracula“, directed my the legendary director Francis Ford Coppola. In the behind the scenes I saw that Mr. Coppola recorded all of his rehearsals, so he could  play around with shot ideas. If it worked for The Godfather, it could work for me.

He also used those recording on set and played them back to the actors to discuss performance choices they had made in rehearsals. Brilliant! So when I was working on my little short I thought it would work, and it did. I was able to have my camera fly around the actors, discovering shots, camera movies and framing.

On set it’s too late to play

When your on set you do not have the time or money to play around and find shots. When doing a low budget short or feature film, pre-production and planning is imperative. For this small short film I spent over eight weeks in pre-production. I storyboarded every shot in the film. Had hours of footage from the location which I brought back to my editing suite and did worked out camera movements.

One of the actors said:

“This is awesome! I can see what we did on the day and get back there emotionally so easily.”

When you are starting out as a young filmmaker the one thing you have is TIME. Take advantage of it. Go over everything you can in pre-production and be as prepared as you can be. Alfred Hitchcock was so prepared for each of his films that he really didn’t enjoy the shooting of it. He felt that the most fun was in pre-production.

The video below goes into some detail on how the process went down. Let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Below is that cool documentary on Francis Ford Coppola’s Masterpiece Dracula.
Absolutely love this film. It’s a great watch!

Take a look at Anatomy of a Killer Stunt. It goes BTS of how we did some really cool stunts in my films.

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