Monday, 21 July 2014

Finding our leads: Auditions


while filming an audition session is very useful, I think a multi-camera set-up should always be used. For instance, if more performers had turned up and we had later looked through all the footage trying to decide who was best we would only be judging half of the performance in a long or medium shot, such as the ones we recorded with Helena and Rich.

This post comes from a highly regarded dissertation length reflection piece I wrote for the Planning and Making a Film module I undertook in the penultimate year of my BA (Hons). The module's practice was undertaken between October 2011 to June 2012 and it provided me with a hugely enriching experience. For a more detailed overview of the module and the projects I undertook as a part of it, see Planning and Making a Film: The student filmmaking experience.


In comparison to Where will it all stop, the audition session for One Door Opened was much more organised and professional. This was helped by the very conscious effort we made to implement everything that we’d learned from the audition exercises in the Directing Masterclass.



The first step towards this involved having a camera and monitor set-up, such as the one in the Masterclass.




We also followed the etiquette of ensuring the performers felt comfortable: so we gave them time to settle in by not filming their first performances, we introduced everyone and explained the whole process to the performers before we started. 

Although, like the audition process for Where will it all stop, only two performers turned up. The two performers, Helena Dunsmore and Richard Carter, are friends of Tish and had been contacted by her to come along. However, this lack of attendance did provide us with an opportunity to spend quite a substantial bit of time discussing the roles with Helena and Rich and seeing how well they performed them.

First, on their own...





...and then how they performed together.



Tish obviously had a good feel for the characters because we ended up casting Helena and Rich; not because they were the only performers who turned up but because they were ideal for the roles in the story we wanted to tell!

On a technical note, while filming an audition session is very useful, I think a multi-camera set-up should always be used. For instance, if more performers had turned up and we had later looked through all the footage trying to decide who was best we would only be judging half of the performance in a long or medium shot, such as the ones we recorded with Helena and Rich.


However, if we had a close-up of a performer’s facial expressions then we would have the whole of that particular performance in front of us to judge. Without this, we could very easily have cast someone as Amelia you could physically portray the role but if they couldn’t back this up with the right conviction in their face we would have been dead in the water! 

Therefore, I think having one camera filming a long shot, capturing the physical performance, and another camera filming in close-up, capturing all the facial expressions, is the best way to go if you want to adequately assess a performance and how it looks on screen.

In terms of organising an audition session, something I learned from this session, and really I should have learned from the Where will it all stop audition session, is not relying on performers to turn up just because you have some posters up and have emailed the drama department.



Tish definitely had it right when she arranged with Helena and Rich to come along to the session beforehand because, amazingly, they actually turned up! 

If you’re going to have an audition session then you should only do it if you’ve already arranged for some performers to come along. Definitely put the word out that you’re having an audition session and if more turn up so much the better. But have some arranged beforehand, that way you won’t be wasting time and resources.

Next: All new problems: Filming 


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