Film Directing: Rehearsal Techniques

In this post, I’m going to give you some great rehearsal techniques, to use while you’re directing your actors. Rehearsal is a very important part of film directing. in fact, this is where  most of the film directing is happening. Putting efforts on the rehearsal stage will save you a lot of time and money on shooting. Rehearsal is a good chance to see how the crew members react to each other and to create your own way of communication with them. It is also a good way to learn each actor’s method of acting. 

When to start rehearsal?

Before we talk about any rehearsal techniques, Remember! it will take time for the actors to have full control on their lines and to get to know each other, so You want to start it as soon as you can. Once you got most of your crew ready. Don’t just run into rehearsal. Before you start the rehearsal stage, you have to make sure you understood the script completely.

Preparing for rehearsal

Rehearsal is not only about rehearsing but also about preparing.  This is a stage where everybody can expose them.  Everyone can share experiences that relate to the film. Rehearsal is all about discipline, but you need to make sure the atmosphere will be also the kind that will promote creativity and exploration of the characters and their situations. This will be a great opportunity to check out the actor;s ideas. Encourage your actors to be creative and to try different ideas. This creative atmosphere can only be created if you’ll make them fill safe.

Working with the actors – Rehearsal techniques

The first step of rehearsal is learning the lines and making sure the actors are feeling comfortable with them.

After you established that, your next step will be to make sure the actors understand their characters “wants” in every scene.

Now you’ll need to play the full scene and then start to break it into beats. After all the beats are clear, play the scene again and see how it looks.

Quick Tip
When you give direction to your actors, talk to their characters and ask them questions about it. This will help your actor to stay in character.

Correcting the actors

Be honest- If something the actor think or does, doesn’t seem right to you, let him know. Don’t be afraid to criticise. There is nothing worse for an actor, then to be sure he is on the right track and on the shooting day, to realise that he isn’t.

Fixing an actor’s work isn’t that hard. Simply make sure he understand the situation and his character’s need and objective.  Also, make sure your directions are clear. Don’t say stuff like “Do it again, only much more angry/sad/crazy”. When directing actors you should think about the actions that will describe what the character fills at the moment. Read the post on directing actors to fully understand the workflow with an actor.

Shooting the rehearsal

Doing rehearsals is all about coming prepared to the shootings.That’s why Some directors even like to shoot rehearsal (documentary style) in the locations of the set. Shooting the rehearsal is a great rehearsal technique because it will also help you think about the right shots for each scene. When you will watch the footage you shot at the rehearsal, new ideas will come up.

Improvisation in rehearsal

Improvisation is one of the best rehearsal techniques. Many directors like to be open for improvisations. I’ve talked about improvising in the post Tips for directing actors. Personally I believe that there needs to be a balanced between what is improvised and what is not. Improvisation simply gives you more options to work with. In the movie Waterfront, the part where Brando is pushing his brother’s gun away was an improvised gesture. That is a great gesture since it is followed by a great monologue from Brando.  There is no doubt as to how this small gesture helped the scene to become  one of the most classic scenes in cinema.


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