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Old 11-30-2011, 05:06 AM   #1
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When the talent isn't performing it like you need it, how early do you say "Cut." ??

Looking for opinions from everyone here.

Let's say you know exactly how you want a particular scene to play out. But the actor doesn't perform in the scene, the way you want and you know that the take wasn't usable. Do you say cut right away? Or let them play it out for a few more moments?

I remember a few times I knew the take wasn't usable and I said "cut" right away. These were on takes where the actor / actress had to move to a certain space in the shot or deliver a line a certain way. It didn't seem like a big thing at the time, just something out of necessity.

Anyway, I noticed they would look angry or annoyed if I had to stop them in the middle of their performance too often. I can understand and see it from their position. "I'm to give my best performance for this scene.... while NOT being distracted with whether or not he's going to sharply say 'Cut?'"

Do you tend to let the take ride out a bit? For a few extra moments before saying cut? Or do you like to say cut as soon as you realize the take is not usable?

It may be something minor, but it's something I wouldn't mind improving on. I don't want to hold them back from giving their best.
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Old 11-30-2011, 06:05 AM   #2
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As a general rule, if it's their performance that needs correcting, I'd let them continue. That's not to say there aren't times when I'll cut early in a shot, but when I do, it's normally a case of me not clearly communicating what I wanted. So, my reason for calling "cut" wasn't that they were messing up, but that I had messed up.

P.S. Please don't take this as expert advice, I'm still learning, just like you. Just sharing my experiences.
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Old 11-30-2011, 06:55 AM   #3
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If they're really throwing themselves in the moment, I'd let them continue. Then when the finish say, "That was excellent, but try again with a little more xyz" or whatever. Personally I'm wary of cutting someone off if they're truly pushing themselves -- to the point I probably go too far and have hand an actor say "Are you ever going to call cut?" But I like erring on that side.
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Old 11-30-2011, 10:29 AM   #4
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I make it a point to have a great relationship with my actors beforehand so that when they aren't giving me what we need, I can say cut and not waste any time.

But often I'll wait it out, looking for something interesting...anything...maybe even a certain look that would be a great cutaway.

Depends on the scene, the take, the actor...the moment.
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Old 11-30-2011, 11:07 AM   #5
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I usually let it play out, you might get some other moment that IS usable in that take.
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Old 11-30-2011, 11:20 AM   #6
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When I started I was shooting film. I could not afford to let
the actor play it out so I got into the habit of stopping them
the moment I was unhappy. I also learned to rely on coverage.
So sometimes I would let them play it out and then cover
what I didn't like in different angles.

Old habits are hard to break and since that old habit works
for me I still do it. Even today I have time to consider. I usually
am on a strict schedule so I don't have the option of letting
entire scenes play out if the actors are not giving me what I
need. So I stop, talk to them about the problem I'm having
and start again.
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Old 11-30-2011, 12:07 PM   #7
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Just to expand on directorik, I know that it costs time, but it doesn't cost you any media (film, or in my case, audio tape) any more. With digital we can comp together good performances. The beginning of the performance may be poor, but you may get something great at the end of it.
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Old 11-30-2011, 12:43 PM   #8
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How about letting the camera roll, but resetting.. or just asking them to change it DURING the take. I think this is more gentle.. right.. you can just lean into the shot, and give the direction you need and pick it up from where ever..
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Old 12-02-2011, 12:17 AM   #9
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I have heard that sometimes the takes that you think will not work will be the ones that do work. I am no expert but that is what I have heard. I would be worried that if you say cut you could miss something in the take. Also, if you say cut too much the actors may get rattled.
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Old 12-02-2011, 11:53 AM   #10
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Hopefully you will have worked out most of the acting during rehearsals and table reads. On set we usually do a practice take before we roll (or sometimes even roll on it just for reference or potential bloopery goodness) which allows for making adjustments with the actors before shooting.

Once we are rolling it is all situational as to when we would yell cut. If it is something that would ruin the entire take, cut right away. If it is something that only hurts part of take it is often better to let it go and make an adjustment before the next take.

At least that is what seems to work for us.
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Old 12-02-2011, 12:17 PM   #11
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Generally, you'd let them finish...unless you're shooting on film and have a limited budget. Or the location is about to kick you out...

You could also cut them early and blame it on the technical stuff...for instance, 'Cut! Sorry about that, we're going to go again for camera.'

Of course you can't really do this that often if the camera man is sensitive. Nor if the camera is locked completely down with no focus pulling needed.

If you're not getting what you want over and over...pull the actor aside in private...and do what you do--direct them.


Last edited by M1chae1; 12-02-2011 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 12-06-2011, 01:40 PM   #12
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I'll come at this as an actor:

If the actor makes choices you don't like, let him go until the end of the take. If you cut them off too often, they'll either lose confidence and/or become quite annoyed. As a result, they'll pull back on their commitment to the performance, and start aping the performance they think you want.

If there's a technical reason that a take is blown it's perfectly acceptable to cut early.
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Old 12-06-2011, 10:47 PM   #13
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I'd go with one complete take before you start saying cut. Performances might go downhill from there (or someother unforeseen event -- lost of location, tech issue) and you'll kick yourself for not having an entire take you could possibly fix in post.

Good luck.
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Old 12-12-2011, 05:38 PM   #14
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I'm guilty of letting it play out too long before calling "cut." I still have to ingrain it into myself we can only shoot within the hours of a permit and some actors cannot make it back from another country for a reshoot. So, the sooner "cut" is called, the better. There are cuts and takes I'm not happy with. But, as long as most of it is usable, I have to say the shoot was useful and successful.
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Old 12-17-2011, 06:42 AM   #15
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I tend to agree with _Rok_

Let the actor always go until the end of the take unless 1 or 2:
1) The rest of the take would be 100% unusable (usually tech reason)
2) Actor loses it (at least inexperienced actors don't always dare to stop acting themselves even if they have lost it (forgot their line, just lost in their thoughts etc)). If you see that they cannot get over it, just cut and shoot again.
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