Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.” Martin Scorsese

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.

Course Objectives

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

DAY ONE

1. Introduction
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)

DAY TWO

1. Class Exercise: Scene Presentations with Actors
2. Playback Scene Presentations for Class Review
3. That’s a Wrap

 Who Should Take this Course?

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.

I’m Peter D. Marshall and I created this film directing blog in 2007 as an online movie making resource center for Independent Filmmakers like yourself. Peter D. Marshall

(As of July 30, 2507 film making posts have been published on this blog!)

For over 40 years I’ve worked (and survived) in the Film and TV industry as a Film Director, Television Producer, First Assistant Director and Creative Consultant. (See IMDb Credits.)

In 1999, I started my website, ActionCutPrint which has grown into one of the top film directing websites for Independent Filmmakers on the Internet today featuring online movie making courses, film directing articles, film and television books and filmmaking workshops.

In 2000, I started publishing my free monthly film making ezine, The Director’s Chair which is read by over 6000 filmmakers in 105 countries around the world. (You can read 154 back issues here.)

To fulfill my goal of mentoring and teaching, I developed several filmmaking workshops that I have presented over the past 19 years (Singapore, Dubai, Haiti, Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Regina.) I am also a directing instructor for Raindance Canada and the Vancouver Film School.

I also offer Film Directing Coaching services via Skype. So why hire me as your film directing coach? Along with my international teaching experiences and my 40 years of professional filmmaking experience (as a TV Director and Feature 1st AD), I feel I have the necessary qualifications to help you achieve your dreams of being a creative and successful independent film director.

So if you want to keep up to date on the latest Online film and television resources, please Bookmark this Page Now or Subscribe to this blog to read daily film making articles written by myself and other film makers from around the world.

Contact Peter D. Marshall

The feature article in this month’s issue of The Director’s Chair is called Crowd Funding Tips from an Indie Filmmaker by David Noel Bourke. “More and more filmmakers are trying their hand at crowd-funding. As an indie filmmaker, I have tried it with some success and with some lessons learned along the way. Overall, it’s well worth it and a great, intense experience and I wish to share some of the experience. It’s good to know what you getting youself into before you jump in with max enthusiasm and not to be left scratching your head on what went wrong if you don’t achieve your goal.”

SUBSCRIBE to the current issue of “The Director’s Chair” and get two free bonuses: (1) Day One (41 pages) of my 258 page Online film directing audio course, “The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar” and (2) the first 30 pages of my 165 page “Script Breakdown and Film Scheduling Online Course For Independent Filmmakers.”

by Landon Palmer.

Terry-Gilliam-in-Lost-in-La-Mancha

The release of any Terry Gilliam film is a big deal. More so than any living filmmaker of lauded repute, Gilliam’s work has been unusually burdened by outsized circumstances that render it astonishing that he’s even accomplished the work he has, from Universal’s re-cutting of Brazil to his lead actor dying during the production of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus to his doomed “Don Quixote” project, documented in the film Lost in La Mancha. Not since Orson Welles (who famously pursued his own uncompleted Quixote film) has a respected filmmaker had such an endlessly difficult time bringing his ideas to screen.

That makes the announcement of a late summer release date for Gilliam’s newest feature, The Zero Theorem, all the more remarkable. The film looks like prime Gilliam territory, with its dystopic representation of a certain future burdened by blinding consumerism and Kafka-esque bureaucracy reminiscent of the director’s most notorious battle for artistic autonomy, 1985’s Brazil. As notable as Gilliam’s work is for its visual inventiveness, its wry humor and its trenchant political themes, Gilliam’s career is just as famous for the unceasing uphill battle through which his inimitable filmmaking is achieved.

So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the only American member of Monty Python who is actually no longer American.

Read the rest of this article from Film School Rejects.

Do you need a Film Directing Coach? If actors, singers and athletes have private coaches, why not Film Directors? If you would like help to achieve your dreams of being a creative and successful independent film director, please check out my Film Directing Coach services via Skype.

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