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Old 08-19-2012, 02:19 PM   #1
B00uWhore
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Preparing My Cast for Romance Scenes?

This is my first post in this forum, so I apologize in advance if I have posted under the wrong heading or any such error as that.

I am in pre-production for an experimental indie film (drama/comedy). I am both directing and playing a small role in the feature. I have directed several short films and one feature-length film before so I am no stranger to the craft, but this is the first film that I have ever attempted on my own...that is, without any sponsor or organization backing me financially. All of my expenses come out of my own pocket, so I am trying to pinch pennies where I can.

I am quite used to working with professional actors and actresses that I have "borrowed" from theatre companies nearby me. However, for this film, due to budget and a necessary relocation I recently made, I have auditioned and casted people in my area who have very little experience with serious acting. I have seen evidence of acting talent within them, and I know they are very committed to the filmmaking process and I believe they are up to the challenge and will perform magnificently. All the same, three or four of them are a little bit nervous about the scripted love scenes.

As I am used to working with professional acting talent, I have never had to push anybody too far out of their comfort zone in order to shoot a love scene before. The scenes in this film are essential plot devices and cannot be cut without scaling back the story. The scenes themselves don't really feature anything more than "making out" (passionate kissing, potential tongue kissing, tight embraces, etc.) so it should, by no means, be a jarring leap into the jaws of death for any acting talent in particular. They have all committed to this knowing that the aforementioned scenes were necessary elements, but that doesn't seem to make them feel any less awkward about the days we will be filming them.

That said, any thoughts on how far I can push my first-time, somewhat-inexperienced acting talent before I cross the line and become overbearing or intimidating? Would it be wrong of me to encourage them to practice the kissing scenes with their co-stars before coming to set? Any advice on what I can say or do to make this experience easier for them? Should I schedule these scenes to be knocked out first, so as to clear the awkwardness out of the way as quickly as possible?

I'm sure everything will turn out just fine in the end, but between here and there, I want the film to be the best it can possibly be, and I want to keep my cast interested and excited about this project. Since this seems to be a bit of a mental roadblock for a few of them, I want to be sure to handle it in the best way that I can as a director.

So, any ideas?
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Old 08-19-2012, 02:43 PM   #2
GuerrillaAngel
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Shoot those scenes FIRST, if they can't or won't perform, replace them, pronto. Do it this way, you'll be holding all the aces. The burden will be on them to do whatever is needed to please the director.


If you shoot ANY of the other scenes first, you'll be married to the actor(s). With this bad hand no poker face will be able to save you if you can't get the performance you need.
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:46 PM   #3
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Sounds like a pretty fair deal. That's more or less what my AD was thinking, too. Appreciate the input.
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:54 PM   #4
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:57 PM   #5
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Seconding Cracker Funk, with some Marvin Gaye (or tindersticks, if they're more indie) for pre-game ;-)

But seriously, GA's advice is good!
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:22 PM   #6
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First contact shouldn't be when the cameras roll, but encouraging them on their own time to be familiar with each other is a weird thing to do. Run some space drills with them while the camera dept is setting up earlier in the day, get them all up in eachother's business then have them briefly practice the scene with you and any other crucial cast crew there explaining how you want it, that way they'll be more comfortable around eachother AND avoid take 32 in front of a larger crowd/crew come the real deal.
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Old 08-23-2012, 02:35 AM   #7
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I like Paul's advice. I was (mostly) kidding about the tequila. Angel's advice seems sound, but I worry about the pair not having any chemistry. Maybe a happy-medium would be to shoot this scene at the end of the first or second day? Give them a chance to become comfortable with each other?
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:20 AM   #8
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That's Lloyd Kaufman's rule #1. If they have nudity or anything else they may hesitate to do, shoot it first.

Clear all unnecessary people from set. Nobody there who doesn't have to be there. Keep the mood light. A glass of wine while they are in makeup, also, not a bad suggestion at all.
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Old 08-23-2012, 02:09 PM   #9
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Thanks all, really appreciate the advice. I'll pick up some liquid courage on the way to set. lol
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Old 08-25-2012, 10:10 PM   #10
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I'm sure that I've heard actors, as well, say in interviews or commentaries that they like to do those scenes first, too, because they also are glad to get them out of the way and behind them.
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Old 08-27-2012, 02:57 PM   #11
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I agree. Shoot those scenes first.
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:34 AM   #12
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Am I the only one who thinks that telling the actors up front they'll have to perform nude is not the right way to do things?

Casting 1

Director: "Before we begin this audition, the role you're applying for requires some nudity during a sex scene - are you okay with this?"
Actress: "Um, well, can't we kind of do it under the blanket?"
D: "No, it's a hot scene and I want it to come across as such - I want the viewer to be pretty turned on while watch, although, NOT in a porn way."
A: "What do you mean?"
D: "You and the bloke are naked, he grinds against you whilst you both look into the mirror."
A: "Um, I don't know..."

Casting 2

D: "...requires some nudity...sex scene...okay?"
A: "That's fine."
D: "What I want to shoot is the actor playing Jack to stand behind you while you kneel on the bed and he slams hard and fast as you both look into the mirror."
A: "I can do that."

See the difference? The second actress is okay so we talk a little dirtier to push her comfort zone... no change. We could ask if they've performed nude before, done sex scenes before, ask him/her to strip there and then and blow you (JOKE!), but if there's no problem with an important scene, why even risk the first one?

On alcohol:
Use a HOT DRINK instead. Hot drinks make one more comfortable/at ease (hence a tea or coffee given to guests), raise body temperature and would have the performer feel like it's less of a big deal than it is for them to need Dutch Courage.
Alcohol may also cause some unexpected results, depending on the amount consumed...
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:40 AM   #13
Zensteve
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VivaChiba View Post
Am I the only one who thinks that telling the actors up front they'll have to perform nude is not the right way to do things?
They should know this before they're even assigned a date/time for the audition. If they have an issue with it, they shouldn't make through the front door to start with.
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:22 AM   #14
B00uWhore
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VivaChiba View Post
Am I the only one who thinks that telling the actors up front they'll have to perform nude is not the right way to do things?

Casting 1

Director: "Before we begin this audition, the role you're applying for requires some nudity during a sex scene - are you okay with this?"
Actress: "Um, well, can't we kind of do it under the blanket?"
D: "No, it's a hot scene and I want it to come across as such - I want the viewer to be pretty turned on while watch, although, NOT in a porn way."
A: "What do you mean?"
D: "You and the bloke are naked, he grinds against you whilst you both look into the mirror."
A: "Um, I don't know..."

Casting 2

D: "...requires some nudity...sex scene...okay?"
A: "That's fine."
D: "What I want to shoot is the actor playing Jack to stand behind you while you kneel on the bed and he slams hard and fast as you both look into the mirror."
A: "I can do that."

See the difference? The second actress is okay so we talk a little dirtier to push her comfort zone... no change. We could ask if they've performed nude before, done sex scenes before, ask him/her to strip there and then and blow you (JOKE!), but if there's no problem with an important scene, why even risk the first one?
The scenes are non-nude and the actors and actresses have were all pre-informed of exactly what the level of physicality would be. I'm not worried that they will refuse follow through on their commitment to the film, but as they are inexperienced and unused to these types of scenes, I am worried about their performance being affected by their comfort level. Put bluntly, I am looking for the best way to put timid acting talent at ease with having a stranger's tongue in their mouth. lol
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:00 PM   #15
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"breath mints"

its all I got, sorry..
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