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#1 Mike Williamson

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 02:35 PM

I'm curious how involved most cinematographers find themselves in determining the blocking of a scene. While it's very clearly the director's domain, how often do you try and make suggestions? Are there specific things that you routinely try to avoid? How often do directors consult you about what you want or need? Thanks, any blocking related thoughts are welcome...
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#2 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 03:17 PM

I always try to give input on the blocking. A lot of it is things like making sure we don't block ourselves into a hole, or keeping the background interesting.

Sometimes it?s making suggestion in terms of what is best for lighting, etc.

It tends to be a collaboration.



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#3 Bob Hayes

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 03:37 PM

I generally watch the rehearsal and think about how I would block the scene. Primarily I?m thinking about keeping the shots interesting, avoiding traps like split looks, and trying to move the action where the lighting will be the most dynamic. After the director has blocked the scene with the actors and with out my input I then casually ask if he could move this part next to the window or have these two actors stand next to each other in a two shot. Usually the directors are very accepting to my ideas.

After 200 episodes of dramatic television and 20 feature films I am pretty familiar with many of the options and traps of blocking. You have to be careful because directors really enjoy blocking scenes and often they have the sequence locked in their minds so if you change part of a blocking it may really throw them
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 06:02 PM

Directors often look towards the DP near the end of the blocking to know whether it's good and can be shot and covered in the remaining time. Also, hopefully before the blocking even began, you gave the director some notes as to which angles potentially would be good, where the light sources were, etc. On a stage, Allen Daviau often likes to have some light coming into the room just to rough-in the lighting because it may affect the blocking for the better.

In an HD shoot on location, sometimes I'll even leave the HD camera on in the corner of the room and see the blocking take place in available light just to see how that looks on the monitor.
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#5 Mike Williamson

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 09:30 AM

Thanks everybody for the feedback. Personally, I'm used to being fairly involved in determining the blocking, however I've been working mostly with fairly inexperienced people in the low/no-budget world, I'm curious how it works in the professional world. I guess part of my underlying question is whether it's something that becomes extremely political, especially with bigger actors involved.
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#6 Bob Hayes

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 12:39 PM

Also I think it is really important to allow the director time to work out the blocking with the actors with out interruption from the DP. The blocking will go through many changes while the actors and director work through the scene. I request total silence from the crew during this process. That means no side dialog. Like ?Oh poop do we need scaffolding out the window?? ?No one said we needed a flower pot!? The benefit of getting a jump on the scene is far outweighed by the distraction of multiple conversations going on during this process.

With a few directors I really trust I don?t mind having them block the scene with a completely closed set. That means I don?t watch the process. Although this makes it much harder for me and my crew it gives the cast and director a chance to experiment with a scene with out critical eyes. Much of what goes on isn?t as much about ?blocking? as it is about discovering the scene.
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