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#1 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 11:30 AM

Hello all,

I have to shoot a 10 page scene, lots of dialogue, 3 people sitting at the table.
I'm thinking that it might be a good idea to break it up in half and do a turn around twice so that it's not so hard on the actors, I've seen problems with continuity if you try to shoot long scenes all the way because the actor seem to forget things.
I was wondering if you could share any experiences dealing with this kind of situation and what the best approach is.

Thanks

fb
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 12:30 PM

I would suggest working out what this scene is dramatically about. There has to be tensions between the characters and conflict between them and this is what you need to reveal in your shots.

However, just having them sitting down talking for 10 minutes doesn't sound that "interesting" as Kubrick would say and I'd suggest that the director comes up with a better way of handling the scene. Breaking it up with actors serving courses, passing dishes etc which will all give the means to make the scene work.

An easy meal scene to check out would be the French colonialist dinner in "Apocalypse Now - Relux" There's a lot of talking, but it's still interesting.

Actors from a theatrical background, should manage 10 minutes as a continuous shot, but you may find little variations slipping in between takes. You'll also need to rehearse them to get the best results. I'd tend to break it up into approx 2 minute bits, or into dramatic beats whichever is the easiest for the actors' performances.
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#3 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 12:53 PM

I would suggest working out what this scene is dramatically about. There has to be tensions between the characters and conflict between them and this is what you need to reveal in your shots.

However, just having them sitting down talking for 10 minutes doesn't sound that "interesting" as Kubrick would say and I'd suggest that the director comes up with a better way of handling the scene. Breaking it up with actors serving courses, passing dishes etc which will all give the means to make the scene work.

An easy meal scene to check out would be the French colonialist dinner in "Apocalypse Now - Relux" There's a lot of talking, but it's still interesting.

Actors from a theatrical background, should manage 10 minutes as a continuous shot, but you may find little variations slipping in between takes. You'll also need to rehearse them to get the best results. I'd tend to break it up into approx 2 minute bits, or into dramatic beats whichever is the easiest for the actors' performances.


Thanks Brian,

Yes, there is plenty of interesting things happening in the scene, my question is more about coverage and the need do turn arounds half way thru the scene in order to help continuity, which is not always practical due to time and relighting. I'm wondering about other DP's approach to shooting long scenes.
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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 03:13 PM

If it's a long scene, I'd tend to light the whole room for the wide shots, so that any lighting adjustments would be slight for the closer shots. At least there will be lighting continuity. If that's a problem, you'll have to shoot everything facing one direction and then re-light to face the other way.

Much really comes down to how the director wishes to cover it. Personally, I wouldn't go for doing it in all in one lump or two, but for a number of natural breaks. Basically I'd approach it just like any other dialogue scene and break down like that. You can have CUs etc which don't have continuity issues to get over problems and the reaction shots can be more important than the speaking shots and these can also help. This will help build up performances, which can be a problem timing wise if you just let the camera run on actors who may not be experienced, or the best you can find.

In a meal, the major continuity problem will be the food and you'll have to shoot lots of stills, so that everything will match as the eating progresses.

If time is really limited you could always do the single shot meal as in "Croupier", which just moves throughout. Although I suspect 10 minutes would be a bit much for this approach and this film's conversation had a lot more people, with a complex exchange between a number of people.

I wouldn't rush it, 10 pages is a long day's filming, unless you've got a multi camera set up.
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#5 Bob Hayes

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 01:15 PM

10 minutes is a long time on the screen. The real question is what the drama is. What are the beats? I think a great film to study is John Huston's "The Dead". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092843/

From a camera stand point it can be pretty simple. If you shoot the scene in several passes and give every actor a couple of takes in close up you shouldn't have much problem with continuity. Eating scenes are a little more difficult because actors are always grabbing different stuff or talking with food in their mouths. I'd try to control that a bit.
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#6 Jake Kerber

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 06:14 PM

Is the scene interior or exterior; night or day? Is the table located near windows? Just some things to conside,r as they pertain to lighting continuity
and how easy or hard it will be to maintain throughout your shoot day.

Hey FB, are the characters eating around the table or doing something else? In any case, maybe you should have playback so that you can better match actor
positioning, gestures with hands, etc. Stills are good for the food, but they won't remind you that character A was about to take a bite when he responded to character B, etc.

Art Department and Props should be able to match food continuity faster than you can relight for a turn around. Of course, make sure they're on-board with this approach.
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#7 Tim Partridge

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 07:08 PM

If you want easy continuity and built in beats, make the characters eat soup!

Keep it simple and give the most time to the central conflict (which is going to be the two people most involved with each other). A few key manufactured reaction shots of the other players will finish it, along with cutaways of art direction for when things go wrong.
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#8 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 04:35 AM

Whatever you do avoid putting the camera on a lazy susan so that the pov is in the center of the table spinning around between them as they talk. Oh, and don't put it on the waiters tray as he approaches the table. both shots are way overdone. Surprising actually because they're both ridiculously distracting and awkward.
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#9 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 06:00 AM

Make sure that continuity with the food is well organized in advance with clear roles assigned. People to handle food prep and dish cleaning, candle heights, etc. This is a lot more fiddly and time consuming than you think it will be. Who is photographing and organising all that?
Make sure that the dramatic intentions are clear with the director and have the shots well blocked out in advance.
Have good grips if this is a circular situation!
Do not forget cutaway inserts.
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