Alan Cumming in URBANIA
Even when an actor's brilliant, do everything you can to rehearse. The extra time, in advance, will ultimately save time. We had Alan for one-&-a-half days (he's busy). He called at 2AM after the 1st day to say he'd needed to sleep, a bit, on it to get the style of the piece in his bones. We were able to reshoot the 1st day's material and get the rest all in the next half day.
Before I shoot most scenes, I do a silent take. The camera & crew do their moves, without rolling. The actors do their actions & think their lines, without speaking. It makes the actors alive to each other & leads to surprises that carry through to the takes. It's a zen exercise, bringing everyone together, with a sense of peace. And you get clean sound of the actions and ambience, so save money on Foley.
Directors & actors oscillate between wanting to control & hoping to let go. This can extend, for directors, to how their movie is seen. URBANIA has contrasting tones to mirror its clashing NYC characters. It plays best with audiences of different types as well. The NYTimes critic saw it first alone, on a DVD. When word got out he wasn't a fan, I pushed our studio to get him to an industry screening before he submitted his review. And he gave us a rave. Sometimes it's not time to let go.
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