When you first start directing, blocking actors in a scene can be one of the hardest (and most embarrassing) parts of your job. If you get it wrong here, you could waste valuable shooting time trying to get out of the mess you created!
What is Blocking?
Blocking is simply the relationship of the camera to the actors. Essentially, it is the physical movement of the actors relative to the position of the camera.
When a director starts to plan the blocking of a film scene, he is thinking not only about his shots and camera positions, but he also needs to take into consideration other items affecting the scene such as lighting, window placement, vehicle movement, extras, stunts, special effects and of course, time and budget.
Where you put the camera (picking shots and angles) is determined by: what’s important in the scene; what is the scene about (scene objective), and what do the characters want (character objectives) and your choices can either enhance or detract the audience’s understanding of what the scene is really about and what the characters are feeling.
Viewer emotion is the ultimate goal of each scene, so where you place the camera involves knowing what emotion you want the audience to experience at any given moment. All actor movement must have a precise purpose and goal so a director needs to make sure that every move actors make has a specific purpose.
You want to reveal a character’s thoughts or emotions through actions because actions are more revealing of a character than dialogue. So when blocking actors, you want to drive the blocking emotionally so no actor movement is done aimlessly.
Audiences today are very sophisticated and they will assume that every shot, movement or word of dialogue in a film is there to further the central idea. Therefore, each shot you use can either enhance or detract the audience’s understanding of what the scene is really about and what the characters are feeling.
REMEMBER: Blocking is like a puzzle – keep working at it until the whole scene falls into place. And there is never one interpretation of how a scene should be blocked.
To help you enhance your blocking skills, I have partnered with Raindance Canada again for another weekend workshop called Advanced Blocking on August 9 & 10, 2014 in Toronto, Canada.
This 2-day hands-on workshop concentrates on constructing shots and blocking actors in a scene and is designed for directors and actors who want to better understand the complicated process of scene analysis and blocking actors on set.
In this workshop you will also have the opportunity to participate in blocking a scene with professional actors and the scene will be recorded to play back for discussion and review.
The main objective of this workshop is to demonstrate why actors need to be given permission to discover how they want to move on the set FIRST – with minimal blocking suggestions from the director
I will also explain why good directors allow this to happen – by trusting their instincts and by practicing the 10 Step Actor/Director Blocking Process
By the end of this 2-day workshop, you should be able to:
- Recognize the importance of the actor/director relationship
- Effectively analyze any scene in your script
- Interpret the actor’s language
- Improve your blocking skills
2. The Director/Actor Relationship
3. The Actor’s Language
4. Script and Scene Analysis
5. Tools of the Director
6. Tools of the Actor
7. The Director’s Acting & Blocking Mantra
8. Reveal – Reveal – Reveal!
9. Shot Composition, Depth & Rule of Thirds
10. The 180 Degree Rule
11. What is Blocking?
12. The Psychology of Movement
13. Blocking a Scene for the First Time
14. 5 Stages of Shooting a Scene
15. The 9 Part Scene Breakdown Process
16. 15 Questions Directors Must Ask Before Blocking
17. The 10 Step Actor/Director Blocking Process
18. Blocking Demonstration
19. Class Exercise (Prepare Scenes for Day Two)
1. Class Exercise: Scene Presentations with Actors
2. Playback Scene Presentations for Class Review
3. That’s a Wrap
Film Directors, Screenwriters, Actors, Producers who want to more deeply understand the techniques directors use to create great shots and block scenes on set and directors and producers who wish to better understand how to communicate and work with actors.
For more information on how to register for this 2 day Advanced Blocking workshop, please contact Jaimy at Raindance Canada.