I had my film shoot this week and worked with a stage actress and my husband Alex Hart. We planned to have two stationary cameras, one hand held camera, and also a still camera during the shoot. Alex has a lot of experience working on and directing film shoots, so he handled all of the technical aspects of getting the sound equipment and cameras set up since I have essentially no experience with all of the equipment. I set the “stage” with a black back drop and duvetyne on the floor to create a completely black background for the shoot. I felt both nervous and excited about the film shoot; this was a completely new experience and my lack of technical knowledge made me feel somewhat helpless in getting everything ready to go. Everything felt unexpected and new, which was both exhilarating and nerve wracking at the same time.
Once the actress arrived, we discussed aspects of lighting and timing and devised a strategy for how to proceed during the shoot. Together we decided that the way to begin was for her to run through several cycles of the motions around three to four times consecutively with breaks in between. One cycle involved three stages of movement: “0-3”, “3-10”, and “10-0”, with the idea that there was an incredibly fast acceleration in “3-10”.
I’m used to communicating with students in terms of helping them develop their work, but I felt insecure and clueless about how to go about directing an actress. I knew what kind of effects I wanted, but I was at a complete loss about how to communicate it appropriately in a clear and professional manner. On the other hand, Alex was really great in terms of directing the actress; he knew what I was looking for and was able to communicate directions in a clear and succinct manner. This experience definitely gave me a new sense of profound respect for film directors, it really is a very specialized skill which is challenging on so many levels.
The primary motions and concepts we discussed in directing the actress were numerous. In it’s most distilled form, the central concept behind the movement was that there are two people involved within a single body: one person was physically and emotionally out of control, while the other person was trapped in the same body with this person. Another important concept was for the actress to physically inflict pain on her body by hitting and attacking herself.
Watching the actress go through these cycles multiple times over the course of two hours was an incredible experience. It was very difficult to watch, and I felt like I had chills up my spine during the entire film shoot. The actress I worked with had a balance of intensity and subtlety which was quite simply, amazing to experience and watch. This is an image and act that never gets seen; a few months ago when I was researching this topic, I did a Google image search of “tantrum” and discovered that all of the images were of toddlers having tantrums. I couldn’t find a single image of an adult going through these motions.
Below are some still photos from the shoot.