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The Director's Chair Issue #6 – Sept. 26, 2000 (On Set: Rehearsing a Scene)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

September 26, 2000          Scene 1 – Take 6

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Web Site: http://www.actioncutprint.com

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1.  Introduction
2.  Action-Cut-Print!
3.  Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
4.  Quote of the Month
5.  Feature Article – Rehearsing on the Set
6.  Directing Tip – Work expands with the time allotted
7.  Film Links of Interest – B-Movies
8.  Out Takes – The Man in the Balloon
9.  Share this Ezine with Your Friends
10.  Suggestions & Comments
11.  Copyright Information
12.  Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information


Welcome to Issue # 6 of The Director’s Chair (September 26, 2000)

a) The Feature Article this month is about rehearsing on the set.

b) Calling all Volunteers! If you would like to contribute
articles, tips, links of interest,industry news, interviews,
special event dates or other resources to The Director’s Chair,
please contact me at: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com


Peter D. Marshall

2. ACTION-CUT-PRINT! –  The Web Site for Film and TV Directors

If you are a Film or TV Director; a working professional who
wants to Direct; a film student who would like to learn more
about Directing; or a “student of film” who just wants to know
more about Film Making from the pros, Action-Cut-Print! is for

Take a moment now to visit
http://www.actioncutprint.com/home.html where you will find over
1000 Online Resources for Film Makers; where you will learn
Directing tips and techniques from the pros; where you can share
your production knowledge with others; and where you will
discover the very best strategies and techniques for promoting
and marketing your own Film and TV Web Site.


To read back issues of The Director’s Chair, visit:

“This is the way I look when I’m sober.
It’s enough to make a person drink, don’t you say?”

Lee Remick to Jack Lemmon in Days of Wine and Roses, 1962

5. FEATURE ARTICLE –  Rehearsing on the Set

Rehearsing on the Set

Last issue, we discussed Blocking – the first part of a four
stage process of shooting any scene:

1) Blocking – determining where the actors will be on the set and
the first camera position
2) Lighting – time for the DOP to light the set and position the
camera for the first shot
3) Rehearsing – camera rehearsal of the first set-up with the
actors and crew
4) Shooting – shooting the first scene (then repeat the process)

To review the article on Blocking a Scene, visit

In this issue, we will discuss the Rehearsal process.

When the DOP has finished lighting, the 1st AD calls the actors
back to the set for the rehearsal. This is when all the elements
of the scene are rehearsed together – actors, camera, sound,
stunts, effects etc.

When the actors arrive, it is important to tell them of any
changes that have happened since the blocking. For example: in
the blocking, an actor might have stopped on the left side of the
window and turned around for his line. But during lighting, the
DOP had to move his mark to the right side of the window.

Because the rehearsal process is for both cast and crew, the
first rehearsal will sometimes be a stop-and-start rehearsal: a
technical run-through with the actors (especially if there are
complicated camera moves.) The actors should walk through their
positions and let the Camera Operator stop them to adjust their
end marks or let the Sound Man find a better position for his
mic. Once the crew is happy about positions and lighting, begin a
full rehearsal.

During this first full rehearsal, watch the camera movement and
the placement of the actors in the frame. Are you getting what
you had imagined? Should you tighten up the lens? Should you
delay the dolly in? Should you change the actors positions

Once you are happy with this rehearsal and the crew have made
their adjustments, begin another rehearsal – and watch the
performances. If this is a TV Series, this will probably be your
last rehearsal, so concentrate on the actors and make your notes.

Unless there is a technical problem, I like to shoot after the
second rehearsal. (I hate great rehearsals – why didn’t we shoot
it!) I usually don’t give notes to actors during the rehearsal
stage unless it is about movement because cast and crew will only
give 100% once the camera starts rolling – and that is the only
time you will see if the shot really works.

The 1st Ad calls for Finals and the “pretty department” goes to
work on the actors. This is also the time any technical
adjustments are made: the camera crew gets final focus marks and
the DOP adjusts his lighting.

During the first take, you watch everything – camera movement,
performances and background action. Does the shot feel right? are
the actors making the right choices? does the dolly move come at
the right time? Very rarely does the first take get printed –
this is your first true rehearsal with cast and crew.

After the first take, make any technical adjustments and talk to
ALL the actors. This is the first time you have seen them working
up-to-speed and it is important that you give them all some

Talk with the DOP and the Camera Operator if you have any
concerns about the camera moves or the framing. (The DOP usually
watches the monitor with you and if he sees anything wrong he
will deal with it after each take.) Discuss the extras with the
1st AD or any line changes with the script supervisor.

If things are going well, the second take will be your first
print. Make a note of where you want changes and focus on those
areas for the third take. If you are shooting a “oner”, get at
least two prints for safety. If you are shooting coverage,
concentrate only on the parts of the scene you want corrections.

Once you are happy with the shot, and you have at least 2 prints,
move on to the next shot. Tell the script supervisor what takes
you like or what portions of several takes you like for the

And the four-part process begins all over again!

6.  DIRECTING TIP – Work expands with the time allotted

In a TV Series, you should know what scenes you want to spend
extra time on (more coverage or more time with the actors) and
which scenes you will shoot quickly (to make up for the longer
scenes). Give the 1st AD this information so he can help you out
in the schedule.

Remember, if you are shooting a low-budget movie or a TV Series,
it’s “Gone with the Wind” in the morning and “Duke’s of Hazzard”
in the afternoon!


1) Bad Cinema Diary  http://www.cathuria.com/bcd/

2) B-Movies and Cult Movies  http://www.b-movie.com/

3) Really Disturbing and Vile Movies   http://www.losman.com/vile.htm

4) The B-Movie Mailing List   http://www.b-mania.com/

5) B-Movies  http://www.moderntimes.com/palace/b/b.htm

6) Terriblemovies.com  http://www.terriblemovies.com/

8.  OUT TAKES – The Man in a Balloon

A man in a hot air balloon realised he was lost. He reduced
altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and
shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would
meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”

The woman below replied, “You are in a hot air balloon hovering
approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 40 and 41
degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west

“You must be an Production Manager,” said the balloonist. “I am,”
replied the woman, “How did you know?” “Well,” answered the
balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I
have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I
am still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help so far.”

The woman below responded, “You must be a Producer.” “I am,”
replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?” “Well,” said the
woman, “you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You
have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air.
You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you
expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you are in exactly
the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow,
it’s my fault.”


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Copyright 2000, Peter D. Marshall/Celtic Fire Productions Ltd.


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