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Actor/Director Film Lab

Lesson 9 of 16

Dynamics of The Set

Robert Milazzo

Actor/Director Film Lab

Robert Milazzo

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Lesson Info

9. Dynamics of The Set


  Class Trailer
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1 Shot Sizes Duration:16:46
3 Camera Movement Duration:14:06
4 Actor Critique: Speed Duration:19:09
5 Actor Critique: Motion Duration:10:35
6 Actor Critique: Size Duration:14:49
7 Dynamics of Rehearsal Duration:11:53
8 Dynamics of The Shoot Duration:18:51

Lesson Info

Dynamics of The Set

Let me ask you a question about trust do you think trust should happen naturally? Do you think it is earned? Do you think it is sort of easily granted when you think of trusting other people whether actors or directors were just trustful where's trustful in your experience working with people? I think it is he's going to be naturally first of all, because it's going to be genuine on but I think it takes quite a bit of time as well too, to build sounds cliche book and you know, it just doesn't happen overnight how is it built for you? Historically and what? What what are the building blocks of trust? And I think and long term first of all, you know, if you and you know, if you meet someone for the first time a second time, third time I still genuinely don't think trust has actually been built unless you've been through some kind of situation together. Andi, if you've been through a situation that it might short in that time scale yeah on dh but otherwise it's going to be a you know, muc...

h more of a long term thing I think we call it movie amnesia and there's something called theater amnesia to where it's opening night the show is over and it's been a rough collaboration and this was great let's do it again and you know, ninety percent of the days you like I never want to see that person again in my life and I don't really care if they get hurt some way sorry, you know? So in a way you say you're on to some great bit of irony that in a way going through the process but it's fascinating and I think you're absolutely accurate but I want to go back before we talk and a zoo course progresses with you've all we're going to talk more about collaboration so this is maybe a little prelude what is it about trust like, do you naturally first day of the set is trust in the atmosphere is it in the for you? Is it in the equation for you? Yeah, go ahead. Yeah, please. Well, I mean, usually try and make sure that everyone who makes it onto set is someone that I trust for that reason I mean, obviously, like that's not going to be hard to it's impossible all the time, but, um and I feel like at least my experience giving people the benefit of the doubt sort of helps build that trust is well, so until they've proven themselves otherwise, I sort of assumed that everyone's capable and yeah are working, so actually we're gonna contribute uh, yeah, I just feel like, um I feel like a lot of filmmaking is a leap of trust like you a lot of times don't have the luxury of building relations I love that I always and often and because you're both right ironically, I often will say they're enacting you're gonna have to trust me right away allow me, teo, but like prove you wrong but you have to trust me right away. Nick nicholas ray, the first film he ever made that forgot the title, he was working with a very experienced crew and we're about to talk about crew andi he was working with a very experienced cinematographer and he did something really intelligent. He went up to this cinematography said, look, I'm going to make mistakes, but I need you to let those mistakes being my mistakes. I thought that was fascinating, I thought that was absolutely fascinating because there is another layer of the site psychology that builds to experience and job description I just love that, you know, it was very honest and it was it was disarming and it was the right thing to say dynamics of the set uh, we have on a top line level what we call department heads cinematographer to meet the filmmakers for better for worse right hand resource, you know, when they start fighting it's like mommy and daddy fighting, you know, that's a little too personal but, you know, I mean it's it's in a wave and it's a more sacred thing in a way than the producer director relationship. You know, talk about trust, talk about auditioning. You know, when I when I did my feature producers said something really smart, she said, when you sit down and talk to potential cinematographers or other what we call department heads, ask yourself this do I want to be near this person sixteen hours a day, perfect six to eight months. Funny question, great question. Do I want to be with this person that much? Now? The answer is, why hate everybody, then that's a different story, but it za fascinating question production designer todd salons once told me when he makes a movie, he likes to audition the crew not every filmmaker gets to meet every every department head he'll sit down with the production design and production designer is literally in charge of all the artistic maison send based elements you see, I always find it ironic that the oscar not that this is a referendum on anything but the oscar goes to best art direction and the art director doesn't win it. The production designer does, I guess, it's not sexy to say the oscar goes for best production design the art directors in a way the right hand man or woman of the production designer but the production designer it's his or her vision of what it looks like sound mixer you know this word mixer keeps coming back and different levels of of film vocabulary set vocabulary sound mixers a location mixer they here she sits in a little control booth on they know all the great stories a ll the real great stories I've learned about film have been through the mixer you know why they hear everything everything what people don't want to be heard they hear everything I learned how to make the best margarita from a sound designer front sound mixer who work for bob altman because anyone different story sound mixer thei r e I was going say their eyes and there's been no, they're literally the ear is there modulating sound? They have a really unique ballet with the actors they often well indiscreet or discreetly relay notes to the actors volume is a problem that's a different thing we'll talk about later in the course because that could be very sensitive to tell an actor there not loud enough could be tell like telling them they need to give a kidney we'll talk about that later sound mixer there the chief the ceo of the sound location sound sound changes when it goes into post production but sound mixer is the location point of contact costume designer rather self explanatory within the dynamics beyond the dynamics of a set the dynamics of a production there's literally something called an art department within our department with production designers are directors we have props sometimes on a smaller film the costume designer is kind of, you know, kind of matriculated into the art department but usually not usually they're their own industry with a wardrobe supervisor, other other hands like runners and people have buyer shoppers people who just helped with costume design costume designer is the department had I only working our way through these top line staff because you know what? Actors don't get this baptism, you know, and again we're going to discuss is it helpful we have keith gordon coming imminently on a skype and we're going to talk to him how much should an actor no? Is it important to know the you know, the department heads? I mean, my my my motivation today is to give you the vocabulary script supervisor the you know, the closest element to the script itself is a script supervisor here she will sit with the script stopwatch and a great set of eyes and cans or ears and they're just, you know, picking up on miss missing phrases, interacting with actors like, hey, you're dropping this word again that could be very delicate in some actors don't want to hear that they're missing a word and the directors don't want it's tricky because the director is like why why isn't the actor saying this word and that's scripted reversal you're not seeing this word and the actual so why do I have to say that we're you know it's again it's it's like mom it's like getting your divorced parents together for lunch you know crude metaphors scripture advisers is it's a tricky position it's a valuable position on every filmmaker uses at verner herzog was forced to use ah script supervisor and rescue dawn he didn't even know what one wass and this was someone who worked in film for thirty years they also give edit notes to the editor so they'll say in this take ashley was chewing gum and we forgot to tell you spit it out like they'll put all the edit notes in so those notes go right to the editor because the editor can use those eyes and ears on the ground this isn't director to me I think the system director is the most difficult job on set and that may sound two definite but I think they truly without their they are you know I don't know if that the engine or the gasoline but if if that breaks down the ship is not moving forward and frankly and this happens historically the assistant directors often the person to be let go of a production isn't working and that's not always fair quite frankly but it's like the quarterback of a football team they get too much praise when when they succeed too much criticism I'm not saying the system directors get praise because I often think a great assistant director in a way it's like a great referee you almost don't notice they're there you know when they're doing their job really well you know their leaders, their wranglers there they're big brains they know the micro and the macro they have you know they tend to have the director's best interest in heart at heart and that's why they fall into the same guilt they're both in the dj a because that tends to be wise directors and aides tend to connect in a way they're the perfect storm of information and I'm in awe of that position I'm in awe of that that job title dynamics of the set any questions this is kind of department heads and then we furthered or definitions of the roles looking a little further before we get to keith the process of it subject to change we look at the process rehearsal as we've said in any form or fashion some actors don't want rehearsal as we alluded to not to name names but daniel day lewis is a classic example who will not rehearse he believes it robs the scene of its spontaneity he's trained not to rehearse in a sense cameron so what we have in terms of analytical bullet pointed process we have actors on set before one classic example for those of you folks at home and folks here of a of a young filmmaker, young actor combination classic mistake hey, we're making a movie on what what am I supposed to be there, mr director? Well, mr actor can come of age actor shows up eight fully costumed, fully made up, terrible maneuver, an actor that's part of the process and in a way and I understand the young artists want to show, you know, this is me prepared toe have my costume on what I want is an actor, I want the actor on the set, then we're going to go through this process, and part of that process will be what we call the works, where they can get their their stuff made up because basically these air like levers there, police, we want one point to go up in one point to go down one point we can't have all the police going up because we top topples over on, we can't have all the points down because we can't move it's the dynamics of a set or a counterweight system it's like a rube goldberg mechanism, one thing carefully spindles, the other so here's the process rehearse still got the rehearsal let's bring in the camera so the camera can see the rehearsal the camera, whether it's, alex or another operators going to observe how the right is going to observe how it works. Camera saw it now let's bring in the rest of the crew. Let's bring in the script. Supervisor let's bring in the boom operator so their level, their layers and layers. And while the after the rehearsal wraps okay, well, we call it the works send the actors through the works hair, makeup costume because, well, they're doing that well, that police up in the air, the crew is going to do their work. Okay, now, this is how we lighted time, guys, the greatest commodity and filmmaker it's more precious than money. I'll give you example, stanley kubrick, who were about to reference with our next our skype guest he's, a big cooper cran, which is fascinating kubrick when he was given a budget when he was asked typically by warner brothers, how much money do you make you need stanley to make a movie? He would let's put a number into the air, didn't matter what eleven million dollars and what his next strategic move because cooper was a chess player? No, no coincidence, he would say instead of giving me and the crew members in here may hate this instead of giving me this much crew give me this scratch crew and you know what he wanted to do with the rest of the budget what do you think he wanted to do with the rest of the budget? More time more time now again we had governors on this now you can't just on lee the most powerful directors khun say give me less crew and then unions and all these other people there's going to be pushed back but that's what cuba would do let smaller crew more time he understood because you know what filmmakers are always gonna want more money you think cameron wanted two hundred fifty bazillion dollars to make avatar you probably want one to three hundred fifty brazilian filmmakers always want more money but one thing that cannot negotiate this time how we use time so actors were going through the works lighting gaffers chief lighting technicians we call them now come in then we shoot it is david mamet you say let's shoot it, shoot it as we were doing a little bit of shooting then we check the gate we checked the gate in a traditional camera we usually use that term now even with digital cameras open up the lens see if there's anything obscuring the lens that would have prohibited ah clean take gate is clean moving on makes sense it's a more of a practice than the bullet pointed thing but these words or words and again just to stress vocabulary the beautiful thing about film is you could go anywhere and work legality and unions allowing because its vocabulary it's its own vocabulary.

Class Description

The relationship between the filmmaker, the actor, and the camera is an integral part of every production, but is rarely discussed. In Actor/Director Film Lab, Robert Milazzo explores cinematographic craft and collaboration and its relationship to acting and performance.

In this beginner-friendly class, both filmmakers and actors learn new ways to work together to bring their best work to life. Filmmakers develop new skills for effectively communicating and collaborating with performers. Actors learn how cameras capture performance and how to adjust their work to suit a production’s technical realities.

Actor/Director Film Lab equips those who work on both sides on the camera with insights that improve their working/artistic relationships, while strengthening the quality of their professional film work.

Special Guests:

  • David Morse, Actor 
  • Kasi Lemmons, Writer/Director/Actor 
  • Keith Gordon, Writer/Director


Philip John

I thoroughly enjoyed and became a better craftsman by watching and partaking in this workshop. Congrats Rob you're inspiring and down to earth made this experience a real pleasure. Cheers Mate Phil from Sydney Australia

Carlos Sandoval

I´ve seen a couple of lessons so far, and this is really a great class. Robert know his subject. Just by listening to him talk about Cassavetes and other fascinating filmmakers that rarely get mentioned nowdays, I get on track. The best.

Laura Latimer

Great Class - Thank you!