Break was my final year film when I was studying in Australia. How much is considered too much for rehearsals and when does the director know how to capture that one take genuine moment for specific scenes? I learnt from this very scene that sometimes the performance in the rehearsal can be better than the actual film.
This scene is about Howard the protagonist visiting a hooker. Other than needing a tech recce and rehearsal for the camera, I wanted both the actor and actress to be comfortable with each other so that they would not be awkward during the filming of the sex scene. However, they became too comfortable and that was when the feeling that i wanted was a little different for the actual film. I truly admire and respect actors who give their 101 percent for the film and the art, trusting the director and assisting them to achieve the vision of the film.
What I like about the performance from the rehearsal is that, you can feel there is a distance between the hooker and the client.
In the actual film, somehow it felt like they knew each other for sometime. Although it can also be viewed as a regular hook up with the same escort. However, from the Character Howard’s point of view, it is just sex.
I remember reading somewhere from a report regarding the movie Taxi Driver directed by Martin Scorsese, which was one of my favourite movie & director. The actor Robert De Niro, has a scene with the young Jodie Foster and he insisted on having multiple rehearsals with her so that they are familiar with their lines. While in fact, it turned out that De Niro did it in purpose. On the day of the shoot, when the camera was rolling, he intentionally did something different and that caught Foster off guard with a genuine reaction.
Rehearsals are important especially as it helps to reaffirm your blocking and working out the believability of the actor’s performance based on the script. There are times where you do not really need rehearsals for the sake of performance if you truly trust your actors. Acting is all about reacting. I love improvisations and welcome suggestions from actors if they feel that their characters should behave and react in a certain way that is not stated in the script. Ultimately, the actors are the ones who will make the character come alive. I always believe that there are no bad actors except bad directors who approves of the acting made into the final cut of the film. I feel actors should be given freedom, assurance and guidance for the vision of the film from the director. The trust between the actor and director has to be mutual. At the end of the day, the call is yours as the director to add input if you feel it helps to add to the scene.
Lesson learnt: Treat the rehearsal like actual filming, you never know if you will use it in the final cut, especially if you are also doing a camera test. After that, watch the rehearsal footage and try to remember what you like and dislike about it, note it down and make sure you get it right on set.
Thank you to all the actors whom I have worked with, for having the patience and utmost trust in me.