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Friday, August 27, 2010

Prepping to Direct or to be Direct.

There’s so much preparation that goes into directing a movie, technical and creative. In my next few posts will concern the creative prep that goes into directing actors. Over the years, I’ve developed an ever growing and changing method that works pretty good for me.

Script Analysis

There are many aspects to script analysis. Right now I’m going to go over one of my general starting techniques in prepping to deal with the actors and characters. As a director I feel it’s necessary to know all the characters as well as the actors portraying them. But you also have to be willing to let go of any preconceived notions when an actor challenges you with an idea that may work better or flat out superior to yours. Ego can kill creativity.

This is only one step in my process:

I try to understand each character’s through-line. Judith Weston in “Directing Actors” describes a through-line as “the way actors believably connect to the characters emotional reality.” Two key elements to this are OBJECTIVE (what the characters want) and INTENT (what the character does to achieve it).

So I 1st create a list of all the characters in my script major and minor and try to discover the overall objective and intent for each one.
Below is an example from Monsters…from 6 of the characters. *You’ll note there is some overlap in objectives, these overlaps may be construed as themes in the script.

1. Jayson: Objective – To gain personal and professional respect from others
Intent – To finish his movie. To be able to sell it. He also belittles others to fell superior.

2. Ashley: Objective: to be adored/loved. Famous.
Intent – gain a role in a feature. makes men desire her.

3. Guy: Objective – be happy. Be Jayson
Intent – find a girlfriend wife. Support jayson.

4. Ariel: Objective – get back home. Get back to her love and normal life.
Intent – stop bravo in order to go home.

5. Maria: Objective – get bravo to notice and love her.
Intent – do this movie. Make others look bad.

6. Script Girl: Objective - to become more independent. Money.
Intent – Get on better movie. Make money.
Then I’ll go scene by scene and layout the objective and intent for each character for THAT scene. I’m always careful to take note of any contradictions between the characters objective in the scene and their overall objective in order to keep the core of the character consistent.

I don’t usually share this info with the actors unless they need it, ask for it or a conflict arises between my vision and their interpretation of the character. When such conflicts arise, as long as they have a good/solid reason and it doesn’t compromise the narrative or other characters, I will side with the actor and let them decide which way to go. Of course just like with all other aspects of directing, there are exceptions.

That’s all I got to say about that for now…

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