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Techniques for Independent Production
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Old August 3rd, 2005, 07:07 AM   #16
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Here's an excellent piece I read recently (pointed out to me on this forum. It's by Greg Pak.

Direct with action verbs rather than adjectives.
The same broad concept drives dramatic writing -- the goal is to tell a story dramatically rather than didactically, which means characters *do things rather than *explain things.

Bad directors tell actors: "Be more happy" or "Be more sad." This kind of direction encourages actors to make faces, demonstrating rather than experiencing the emotions at hand. It looks false because it *is false, and audiences sneer when they see it.

The challenge for directors is to stop talking about results and start talking about process.

Directors who talk about results speak in adjectives -- "Now be real *angry at Bob." When you direct like this, you make your actors think about trying to achieve these results, which means that instead of inhabiting their characters, they're forced to remain in their own heads, fretting about whether they're achieving the results you're expecting.

In contrast, directors who talk about process use action verbs and direct objects -- "Make Bob stop laughing at you." With direction like this, the actor no longer has to think, "Now I'm supposed to be getting mad." Instead, she can concentrate completely on her life as her character, pursue her objective, and actually get mad.

Adjectives lead to general, false behavior -- making faces.

Action verbs lead to specific action through which actors discover and experience emotions -- resulting in dramatically compelling performances.
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Old August 3rd, 2005, 07:33 AM   #17
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Justin, have you seen "Robot Stories"?

Good example of Greg putting this kind of stuff to work.
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Old August 5th, 2005, 02:11 PM   #18
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There is a relevant part of a press conference where Tony Leung Chiu-Wai ("Infernal Affairs", "2046") is interviewed by L.A. press and he talks about how he got ZERO direction from director Wong Kar Wai about his character or performance.

Tony Leung Chiu-Wai: "I feel like the President."

Leung admitted that he thought he struggled during the first few months of the shoot as he received very little input from director Wong Kar-Wai. He was able, however, to gradually find the right characterization through trial and error. Although he described his relationship with the director as “strange”, Leung nonetheless praised Wong for giving him the freedom to find his own interpretation. “We never discussed the story or the character – we never talked,” claimed Leung. “With Kar-Wai there’s nothing to prepare, because there’s no script. With directors like Andrew Lau Wai-Keung (INFERNAL AFFAIRS) and Hou Hsiao-Hsien (FLOWERS OF SHANGHAI), I would get a lot of information in advance and we would work on the script a few months before shooting. I think both ways are very interesting, but not many people like Kar-Wai’s style. I don’t mind working in his style once in a while, but not all the time.”
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Old August 5th, 2005, 04:40 PM   #19
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Wong's method is only an option if your talent has complete faith in you, otherwise they will soon tire of the guessing game. Definitely not something for an unknown director like me to attempt!
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Old August 6th, 2005, 05:04 PM   #20
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You are directing too much when you are so far behind schedule that your AD starts pouring straight vodka into his water bottle.
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