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Old 03-03-2018, 04:16 AM   #1
Onalos
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How Important is Chemistry?

I'm directing my first feature. I will also play the lead and I have an actress that will play my love interest. One of my concerns is that we don't have what you would call on-screen chemistry I think. I asked her to rehearse scenes with me (which I almost never do with anyone). So we met up to rehearse. She was mostly reading lines instead of doing the actual rehearsing.

It turns out she doesn't really believe in rehearsing. This makes sense, as I don't really tell my other actors to rehearse either. I don't want them to know their lines so well that they sound like robots. But we rehearsed anyways (It was more of a walkthrough).

And she didn't go ALL IN. Like when she was supposed to go in for the kiss, or hold my hand, punch me in the shoulder playfully, or even open the door when I knocked. She didn't really do the 'actions.' Just the walkthrough. I had to remind her to do the actions almost everytime.

I respect her approach. I am guilty of this approach myself...even when it comes to the times I have performed on stage I don't let my performance come alive until very close to the production. However, how am I supposed to know if we have on-screen chemistry like this? I recorded the rehearsal and our characters look like acquaintances instead of two people that like each other.

So the questions I have: Does anyone else go through this? Can you FAKE chemistry? How do you know if you have chemistry?

I am working VERY hard on my film (Writer, Actor, Director, Producer, Editor, Compositor, VFX Artist, Modeler, Animator, Rigs, textures, etc.)
I absolutely cannot afford to have the audience say "It was ok, but the two leads didn't really have chemistry." Any help and advice is appreciated.
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Old 03-03-2018, 07:16 AM   #2
Sweetie
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Can you FAKE chemistry?
If only where was a profession where people were pretend to become a different person and be recorded.

Some chemistry is developed in post, but you need the ingredients before you can bake a particular cake.

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How do you know if you have chemistry?
That's the directors job. I wouldn't be worried unless you're the director... oh wait Go with your gut. Learn from Robert Zemeckis and his lesson from Back to the Future. You're the one on the ground. You need to assess the circumstance you're in. Once you decided you have a problem, fix those problems ASAP.

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(Writer, Actor, Director, Producer, Editor, Compositor, VFX Artist, Modeler, Animator, Rigs, textures, etc.)
You're doing every other job... have you considered playing the supporting actor too

I hope you solve your dilemma.
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Old 03-03-2018, 08:32 AM   #3
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I'll second what Sweetie said - go with your gut.
But pull the (metaphorical) trigger while you still have time to replace her.
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Old 03-03-2018, 10:59 AM   #4
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its a weird time to be the director and cast yourself in a love scene.
I think a lot of women will have their guard up in case of predators for circumstances like this..

You definitely don't want to wrong woman for a romantic comedy.
Some movies its okay if there isn't much chemistry - Take "Edge of Tomorrow" for example

My favorite movie of .. was it 2015? The chemistry between tom and emily was shit lol.
IDK why they shoehorned a kiss in the end there, it was very artificial.

But heres the thing they were doing an action comedy not a romantic comedy so its okay

What is your genre
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Old 03-03-2018, 11:32 AM   #5
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Was anyone else there?

My first thought was... you ask her over to your apt., no one else is there, and she is supposed to perform romantic scenes... so she was uncomfortable and "all business" and perhaps even standoffish.

If this was the case, there is your answer.

Rent a performance space and have more people there.
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Old 03-03-2018, 11:33 AM   #6
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its a weird time to be the director and cast yourself in a love scene.
I think a lot of women will have their guard up in case of predators for circumstances like this..

You definitely don't want to wrong woman for a romantic comedy.
Some movies its okay if there isn't much chemistry - Take "Edge of Tomorrow" for example

My favorite movie of .. was it 2015? The chemistry between tom and emily was shit lol.
IDK why they shoehorned a kiss in the end there, it was very artificial.

But heres the thing they were doing an action comedy not a romantic comedy so its okay

What is your genre
Yes, I guess it is a weird time for directors to cast themselves in a love scene. Didn't really think about it.

In terms of our scene, it would require no more than a kiss so I don't think anyone should feel weird about it. The way the characters look at each other and talk to each other and behave around each other is what the focus should be.

The genre of the film is Adventure/Suspense. Even though it's only a subplot I would very much like the romance to seem organic.
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Old 03-03-2018, 11:35 AM   #7
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Was anyone else there?

My first thought was... you ask her over to your apt., no one else is there, and she is supposed to perform romantic scenes... so she was uncomfortable and "all business" and perhaps even standoffish.

If this was the case, there is your answer.

Rent a performance space and have more people there.
Yeah not only that but he never rehearses... and then of all the scenes to rehearse he picks the one where she has to kiss him. Onalos can't be totally oblivious to all the Weinstein stuff that's been going on.

BTW Onalos I'm on your side and I don't think you've done anything unprofessional I'm just trying to help you look at it from the actresses POV
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Old 03-03-2018, 11:38 AM   #8
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Yes, I guess it is a weird time for directors to cast themselves in a love scene. Didn't really think about it.

In terms of our scene, it would require no more than a kiss so I don't think anyone should feel weird about it. The way the characters look at each other and talk to each other and behave around each other is what the focus should be.

The genre of the film is Adventure/Suspense. Even though it's only a subplot I would very much like the romance to seem organic.
Chemistry is sold in the dialogue and acting.. its about the audience wanting to see the two characters kiss.
It's about that suspense far more than the actual kiss itself, the kiss only lasts a couple seconds and your movie is going to be much much longer. Try to find the chemistry in the other scenes
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Old 03-03-2018, 11:38 AM   #9
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I auditioned female roles in my apt. and some understandably came with male friends. This was way back when before all the headlines. Would definitely use a space next time.
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Old 03-03-2018, 11:44 AM   #10
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Was anyone else there?

My first thought was... you ask her over to your apt., no one else is there, and she is supposed to perform romantic scenes... so she was uncomfortable and "all business" and perhaps even standoffish.

If this was the care, there is your answer.

Rent a performance space and have more people there.
I have permission to use a Christian Center Building. We rehearsed there in the day with a few people there in the building and music playing upstairs. We were in a large room just the two of us, but I had the door open to the hall and we even had someone enter the room at one point. There are cameras installed all over the building.

I would like to think there wasn't anything weird about it, but if it was is there any advice on how to make your actors more comfortable in those situations?

I don't know if this is relevant, but she was a little sick that day and she had the sniffles.
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Old 03-03-2018, 11:50 AM   #11
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You two and no one there, you don't need to rehearse the kiss or romantic scenes. In fact you can mention it to put her at ease.

You can video the rehearsal to see if there is chemistry later and this will also make it look more pro.

You can have others in the room, perhaps, actors from other scenes you can rehearse with, but don't have them wait outside, have them wait in that room. Have chairs, tables, snacks, and water.
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Old 03-03-2018, 11:52 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Onalos View Post
I would like to think there wasn't anything weird about it, but if it was is there any advice on how to make your actors more comfortable in those situations?
You could be auditioning a dozen different girls and making out with all 12 for all she knows.

There are things you can do to make them feel comfortable, Harvey knew all the tricks. Just look at whatever he did and you can learn from him.. which is exactly the problem!!! People are on red alert right now.

My advice is to find a great actress and then trust she can handle a kiss when the cameras are rolling.
You want her to trust you that you're a professional but trust goes both ways.
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Old 03-03-2018, 12:08 PM   #13
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My opinion is kisses don't need to be rehearsed period. You mime it and move on.
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Old 03-03-2018, 12:21 PM   #14
Onalos
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You could be auditioning a dozen different girls and making out with all 12 for all she knows.

There are things you can do to make them feel comfortable, Harvey knew all the tricks. Just look at whatever he did and you can learn from him.. which is exactly the problem!!! People are on red alert right now.

My advice is to find a great actress and then trust she can handle a kiss when the cameras are rolling.
You want her to trust you that you're a professional but trust goes both ways.
Thanks for your advice.

We didn't do just the romantic scene, we rehearsed ALL her scenes. I had a very short runthrough with another actress (less than 10mins). Also just the two of us, same building. It was my first time meeting her (accepted her based on her audition tape) so that's why I did a quick runthrough and then we filmed as soon as we were done. Very easy going. I guess that's why my new actress caught me offguard. I really would like to think it's her improv-like style of not rehearsing too much that makes it seem like our characters don't have chemistry, and that this will change infront of the camera.

She is not being difficult at all though (not rebellious anyways). Don't want to get rid of her, but maybe giving her another role might be best. I'll have to think about this though.

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You two and no one there, you don't need to rehearse the kiss or romantic scenes. In fact you can mention it to put her at ease.

You can video the rehearsal to see if there is chemistry later and this will also make it look more pro.

You can have others in the room, perhaps, actors from other scenes you can rehearse with, but don't have them wait outside, have them wait in that room. Have chairs, tables, snacks, and water.
We didn't actually kiss. The script calls for her almost kissing my character and then later my character would go for the kiss. Which I didn't do because it's true that it's not needed to be rehearsed. The way her character behaves is of more importance. Future reference: I'll let all my actors know about this ahead of time. Thanks.

Yeah, I did record the rehearsal.

I'll also try to bring in people next time. Thanks again for the advice.
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Old 03-03-2018, 02:13 PM   #15
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I don't know if this is relevant, but she was a little sick that day and she had the sniffles.
It could be, as well as any other things you don't know about.
Apologize if the previous rehearsal made her uncomfortable.
Say you don't want to be a Harvey Weinstein.
Talk to her about all your concerns & her concerns. Address all of them.
Ask what would make her more comfortable, more people, different setting, better health, more time to prepare or get comfortable, etc.
You want what's best for the film.
Create an environment where everyone involved can give their best.
Be sensitive above all, & vocal, & professional.

Did you still smell fresh when you saw her?
Did you eat anything with onions or garlic that day?
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