February 12, 2013

Director's Checklist: What Should You Do After a Take is Over?

Directing is not easy work, especially if you've never done it before. It's easy to say "action" and "cut," but everything that happens after a take can be just as important as what happens during a take. So what should you be doing once a take is finished? Director Patrick Tucker, who has been at the helm for more than 400 broadcast TV episodes, recently gave some advice about what a director should do after saying "cut."

Thanks to Raindance Film Festival for posting this (and FilmmakerIQ for the find), here are a few I think are important:

1. Did you like the take?

On balance, were all the major elements in place?  (framing; camera movement; lighting; design; properties; costumes; make-up; script; editing – will it cut to and from the surrounding shots; and DON’T FORGET TO THINK ABOUT THE ACTING.)

4. Weigh up the pros and cons of going again

Balance the wishes of the crew/actor requests on one side, and your knowledge of how much must be done today (and what is coming up) on the other. Is it better to correct something now, or wait to fix it in post-production?

7. Stop before you move

Before moving the camera (and so needing changes in lighting, dressings and design), make sure there is no other shot needed for this scene that could be done from here. Also, see if there is any other shot you can squeeze from this set-up for only a few extra seconds of shooting.

If you have an Assistant Director, they will most likely be helping you with the scheduling, but even if you don't have one, it's important to be aware of how much you still have left to shoot with the time allotted. I think stopping before you move the camera ends up saving a lot more time over the course of the day. If you make sure that you've got all the coverage you need from a certain setup, you can avoid having to go back and try to match up the lighting -- which might be totally different when you come back.

I tend to be a perfectionist about a lot of things, so what I've learned works well for me is making sure I hit certain key points with the scene, and then try to move on. If you have the luxury of spending a whole day on one or two pages, you can be like David Fincher and do 100 takes, but I know for me if something isn't working after 4 or 5 takes (and it's unrelated to any technical issues), then I need to go back to the drawing board and talk with the actors about a different strategy.

Be sure to head on over to the Raindance website to read the rest.

If you haven't directed anything before, did you find this helpful? If you have experience directing, what are some of the things that you've found work for you on set to have a productive day?

Link: What A Film Director Does After They Say “CUT” -- Raindance Film Festival

[via FilmmakerIQ]

Your Comment

13 Comments

I think this list is definitely something you gain just by directing something. But of course it's never bad to hear things more than once. The more I read the more information I retain. So thanks!

February 12, 2013 at 1:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brady

My lord this site is useful...

February 12, 2013 at 1:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Curse yourself that you made a HUGE mistake in casting. :-)

February 12, 2013 at 1:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

Story of my freaking life.

February 12, 2013 at 8:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Kenneth Merrill

Heh. That's fiunny :))

February 13, 2013 at 12:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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This advice is definitely useful, but like Brady said, it's something I think you should get from experience. You don't have to weigh pros and cons of shooting again. If you think you got a perfect take, move onto the next one. If you're not satisfied, do it again.

And you shouldn't have to think about doing another shot from the same camera position. That should be decided in pre-production and planned out accordingly. Sure there's the rare "You know, this wasn't planned, but a close up from this angle would be perfect." But you shouldn't let that happen every scene.

February 12, 2013 at 2:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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David

And obviously this only really works out on short films or features. A commercial or business video will have more restrictions. So in that situation you would have to weigh pros and cons, time constraint and budget being a major factor.

February 12, 2013 at 2:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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David

As Woody Allen once said, "Every take is a mis-take" :)

February 12, 2013 at 2:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Neil

I think there is some go advice in the three here, especially the last one can you do it without moving the camera and lights.

February 12, 2013 at 3:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Josiah

"were all the major elements in place? (framing; camera movement; lighting; design; properties; costumes; make-up; script; editing – will it cut to and from the surrounding shots; and DON’T FORGET TO THINK ABOUT THE ACTING.)" oops forget sound. Ahhh its not important anyway....

February 12, 2013 at 4:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Nick

For me its always a very quiet voice in my head that notes what wasn't quite right. When I learned to hone in on that voice, despite the clamor of things going on, it could make something we were doing go from "Good." to "Got it! Lets move on."

February 12, 2013 at 7:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Kevin

The worst thing an actor wants to hear is to do it again without saying what you want different. When I was a PA on a feature the actors couldn't stand the director who would just say that over and over again. It's hard to always articulate what you want different, but it's still essential

February 16, 2013 at 4:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Actors want to look their best. So it's good to do it until it's right. But having worked with over 300 pro and semi pros, some just get worse with every take, some get better and some really need coaching to get what you want. You just gain that from experience which I know is frustrating to hear for those who don't get much of a chance to direct. But you can learn this stuff as a gaffer or a PA by keeping your eyes and ears open.

February 20, 2013 at 1:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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