I am a filmmaker based in Atlanta, Ga.
Great advice. Akin to the advice that I've heard often which is to be authentic in your writing. People can sniff out things that feel trite or disingenuous. When we respond to something by saying it was "cheesy", "corny", "over-the-top", "on the nose" or any number of similar reactions, usually it's because there's a jarring lack of authenticity in the work. So essentially, to me at least, his advice sounds like he's saying to write characters and scenes that feel authentic.
Whoa Zach. Play nice. I agree that an 8/7 hour day would just not work. No way. But 14 hours seems unnecessary. I might expect that on an indie shoot where money is tight and you might have location issues because you can only afford it for one day and there was no budget for rehearsals. But not a well funded studio picture or commercial where there's much more money to play with. To be clear, I don't think people's lives should be at risk on any picture but especially not one where there's more than enough money to ensure people's safety. I think 12 hours is a reasonable expectation, though. And I'll own that Directors have a big role in this too. Asking for an absurd number of takes or shooting crazy coverage that you'll never use in post isn't necessarily something that falls on the producer. That said, the Producer can give the Director the time and resources to plan their shots, get it right in rehearsal, and THEN bring in the crew to get what they need on the day. Get coverage if you need it but be economical. That usually results in a better product anyways because you're shooting with intention rather than just taking the shotgun approach and figuring it out in the edit.
Good on you, Zac for really pursuing your passion 100% and finding a medium that works for you. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Just FYI - the links above to your social channels are currently not working.
I've also been using the "whenever you're ready" call since I heard that Clint Eastwood used that. Tom Hanks echoes this in a couple of interviews as well (talking about Clint Eastwood). I've found it mostly better than always calling action and it generally seems less grating on everyone's ears - especially in more quiet scenes. I agree with Justin Robinson that calling "action" based on the intention of the scene is a helpful way to think about it. I still call "action" for anything that literally involves action (typically something physical) especially if I'm trying to keep the energy up. I do like the tail slate idea. I've always found the slate to be this sort of weird accounting procedure we all have to do before we get into the scene. Would be nice to just roll into the scene once the camera and sound is rolling and worry about the slate later. I'll have to try that.
I will say if you are going to use something other than "action", it might be worth just letting everyone know that's what you're going to do. I've had some actors get confused on the first couple of takes because I wasn't saying the word "action" so when I said "whenever you're ready" they just stood there staring blankly like "Oh, you mean me?" Probably because it just wasn't what they were used to hearing and they thought I was sarcastically telling a P.A. to get out of the way or something. But if more directors start doing it, that'll be less of an issue.
100% agreed, Oren. Rather than criticizing his choices, try asking questions about those choices instead to gain a better understanding. Or, if you believe you have nothing to gain from his experience, just keep that to yourself and move on. No need to be rude.
This is really helpful. Thanks for sharing this in depth detail on how you shot this.