COSMOS MOVIE PRODUCTION BLOG 19: CAST REHEARSALS
“All the real work is done in the rehearsal period” — Donald Pleasence
Whichever way you want to look at it, filmmaking is an expensive game – there’s either a money cost or a time cost. And ideally, you want to spend as little of both as possible!
If you have money you can buy time and get things done quickly. If you don’t have money, it’s going to cost you more time to get the job done. And one of the best ways to make the most of your shooting time is to have some constructive rehearsals sessions under your belt, for your benefit as well as your cast’s.
This video features some of the greatest actors of our time and although the topic of rehearsals isn’t directly discussed, it’s clear how seriously these actors approach their work – they love what they do, they want to do their very best and they put a lot of effort, thought and research into how they can achieve that.
“I’ve got to do a lot of homework. I’ve got be well equipped when I come onto the floor. And I want to come onto the floor with ideas and I want to also be well prepared so I have the freedom to explore any avenue on the day, and have fun.” — Michael Fassbender
Filmmakers have many misconceptions and fears about rehearsing with actors – it’s not just a case of deciding where to stand and how to deliver a line. There’s an intellectual and emotional exploration allowing you and your actors to peel back the layers of the story together.
Many complain about the lack of rehearsal time during filmmaking – there is in fact plenty of time for rehearsals off-set, before you begin shooting. Consider how much time is devoted to technical preparation during a shooting day; tweaking the lighting, perfecting the camera angle, checking sound… does it not make sense that the actor’s performance, which all that technical effort is devoted to capturing, should be the most refined and rehearsed?
Some are afraid that rehearsals will kill spontaneity in a performance – this is a misunderstanding of the purpose of rehearsals. Your goal is not to develop a step-by-step blueprint for your actors to follow but to search for new possibilities, to discover emotional truths, to ask questions and to give your actors the freedom to explore. Actors should leave with more questions and things for them to work on between now and the shoot.
Rehearsals are not the performance – the last thing you want your actors to do is nail their performance during a rehearsal and then spend the subsequent days/weeks trying to hold onto that performance you liked so much. Acting is a process and a good director is respectful of that process – actors want the space and time to get ready to do their best work. Rehearsing is to acting what a warm-up session is to sport. They need to stretch out their emotional muscles and get their imagination into gear – Let you actors limber up and then let them loose.
It’s amazing how creative an open-minded, collaborative conversation can be and the results that it’ll yield.
We’ve had plenty of time for rehearsals on COSMOS, mainly thanks to our actors and their busy schedules. The upside of finding great actors is that they are, well… great! The downside is that great actors are always in demand and this makes it tricky to block out a shooting schedule when everyone is available.
However with the several months we’re waiting until everyone is free, we’ve been able to arrange some very constructive and downright enjoyable rehearsal sessions.
After our first session; a very productive Script Read-through in which we read the 102 page script from cover to cover, it was time to get down to the nitty-gritty and discuss anything and everything from scene structure, character backstory and arcs, story beats and blocking… the list is endless.
Hopefully our rehearsal process will result in a fuller richer experience for both the actors performing in the film and the audience who will (hopefully!) watch it. Now it’s time to roll cameras…
We both hope this insight into the production of COSMOS, our first feature film, is both entertaining and informative. We only want to share the fun and experiences with other filmmakers. You can follow more day-to-day progress via our twitter @CosmosMovie
Zand & Ell
Elliot Weaver, Director @CosmosMovie