Monday, 31 January 2011

Been beavering away on the film project since the last update, have read through the highly recommended book "Directing Actors" by Judith Weston.

(Amazon link)

Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film and Television

I echo the praise this book has already received, it was incredibly enlightening and has honestly changed my perception of not only acting and actors but also on the role of the director. I feel like I've been re-educated.

There were almost too many important pages to bookmark! Every second paragraph was practically a gem.

I'm also reading On Film Making, by Alexander McKendrick, another seminal and highly regarded book aimed at directors. I can confirm that it after a lengthy introduction, it gets really good, but I almost feel like my brain has reached saturation point and I don't want to waste the knowledge imparted, so I've picked up a fiction novel for the first time in months and I am claiming back my lunch hours and train journeys for relaxation rather than education! Maybe I can take a week or two off from learning just to wind down. I look forward to picking McKendrick up again once I can fit more knowledge in!

(Amazon link)

On Film-making

A friend of the family imparted a useful quote to me recently, it wasn't in the context of film-making, but he said "knowledge without experience is just information".

All this knowledge I've been gathering from so many texts, it really is just words until I put it into practice. I really need to get in there and get my hands dirty and get practical. The Directing Actors book has already made a difference to the way I run rehearsals, and it's allowed me to open up and penetrate the script and gain a new understanding of what is going. I'm working with non-actors, so not everything in the book is going to be of use, but reading the whole thing was honestly invaluable.

I'm doing my best to take notes, read actively and not let all this golden information just seep away.

As for the current project, I've cast a few more characters with non actors, again asking friends and people we know. We're meeting this week with the principles to work on backstory, get the new character in, and do another draft of the script. I've also created a few tables to help me break down the plot and the flow and the character relationships.

I made a lot of progress recently on a music video I've been working on for months now, it's one I've mentioned before and I've taken lots and lots of footage of things and places to make a video without people in it. I basically threw edits and effects at one another until things started to stick, it was very experimental and highly satisfying. It's the most progress I've ever made on it and the first half of the video is pretty much done. I would like to finish this one soon as I have a large workload, I have another non-film related creative project outside of all this as well as a full time job and a wonderful partner whom I want to spend more time with and a big, demanding dog and a lazy cat. To be honest that last one takes up nearly none of my time, he don't do nuffin!

But I think it's getting to me, my left eyelid has been twitching for a month now and it's driving me crazy. Stress related apparently. I don't feel stressed, but I know I am stretched pretty thin. I think things will be better when I get the music video finished, although I'm really enjoying working on it and learning a lot, not only about visuals, but also about Final Cut and the whole editing process.

Plus I haven't played more than 15 minutes on the Xbox for weeks. Shocking!

Will post more soon


Thursday, 13 January 2011

First work of the new year

It's been a quiet time since before Christmas, with not much happening as everyone has been too busy and the snow had thwarted any opportunities we had to get together to discuss the next step in the "Surviving The Toilet Circuit" short film project we're doing, based on a script written by members of the Explorer's Collective.

Last week I met up with two of the project members in a pub in West Croydon called the Indian Elephant - a good opportunity to promote my good friend Amerish's fledgling pub, if you're ever in Croydon check it out and give one of the nicest and hardest working men I've ever known some of your business because damn, he deserves it. We had a good night and discussed the project a little, but mostly it was great to catch up with the guys.

We met up again two days ago with all the principles and did a read through, followed by some script editing and analysis and talked about how to "act" as none of us are actors. I've been reading some books on the subject and I'm halfway through Directing Actors by Judith Weston which is a deservedly seminal book on the topic, a real horizon expander which gave me a lot more confidence to talk to my non-actors and find ways to deliver the lines more truthfully. It's written mainly for working with professional actors but the book tells you so much about the craft of acting and how to overcome hurdles that I think it would be useful to anyone. Acting well is a lot more difficult than many people realise, including myself.

The readthrough and analysis, which was a couple of hours in Mark's basement music rehearsal space, was really constructive, and rather than degenerating into the usual beer and spliffs and giggles, we covered a lot of ground and are in the process of making some large changes to the script including a possible new character in the fictional band, which would solve our logistical problems of having four musicians playing what currently is a three piece band, but done so in a way that won't hurt or mutilate the script. Everyone is getting better and more professional already and I think we're beginning to focus. We've got a long road ahead though and so much still to organise.

Until recently I've not had a problem with the workload of producing, directing, shooting, recording, editing, organising, location-securing and lighting this movie all by myself but the last few nights have been a bit sleepless as the weight of the project begins to make itself felt. Every now and then during a tranquil train ride or a quiet moment at home an abyss of apprehension will open up and swallow me whole for a few seconds, but the key is staying optimistic. Not everyone gets a chance to indulge themselves and learn like this, and I am grateful for the opportunity. The key is to stay calm and in control, not something I have a great track record of, but this is where I need to rise to the ocassion. Preperation is my ally, and I've made some mistakes and learned a lot on my last few projects. As long as I can do this on my terms, then I should be able to stay in control.

It's a special, intoxicating and fun kind of terror.