A lot of the time, on set for productions I’ll find myself wondering what on earth the director is doing. And then I’ll remember that I’m directing.
Although we as filmmakers try out hardest to generate a somewhat semi-convincing timetable for those difficult days of shooting, they nearly never go to plan (hate to say it, but we all have this problem). Sometimes it’s just a shot list. That’s cool too. But we nearly always end up making our actors wait around for an unnecessarily long time. Maybe it’s just bad underestimation, or maybe it’s the senselessness that comes with fatigue. Productions always leave you dead, so I can’t blame you for allocating that action sequence a mere 20 minutes to shoot when you (in your right mind) would know that it takes much longer. Well, I won’t blame you, but your actors will.
Crowding around the camera to watch takes of a tricky shot in ‘It Takes Two to Tango’.
Another scandalous case of time-wasting is having actors on set unnecessarily, of which I’m a repeat offender. It is always good to have your actors on set some time before they are due to start, but try not to have large gaps in the middle of a shoot where they’re not required. Sometimes, it’s inevitable, and having an actor realise this and assure you that sticking around a little longer isn’t going to kill them, really means the world to a director.
I think it’s important for both parties (performers, and folks behind the scenes) to realise that together, you have very important roles in making your film come alive. If an actor can’t remember a line, as a director it’s your job to lead them through it. Respect them completely and utterly until you manage to milk the best possible performance out of them. Likewise, if a director is running behind schedule or the schedule requires you at 9-10, but not again until 12-1, don’t fret. Just remember that you are both in this together to make a great film, and be considerate of the difficulties you each might be facing.
Might I take this moment to thank everyone who has sat around the set of any production of mine waiting for their time to shine. You’re all legends, and whilst it may be hard to ignore the sweltering heat, the rumble of a lunch-too-late, or a few mozzies, we do so anyway, and that makes me uber proud.
Everyone waiting around on set for ‘After Tracy’.