The long take - MISCHA BAKA

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The long take

Saltbush Rehearsal - The long take

 Siobhan Jackson and I decided to establish a performative space that is entered into for long stretches of time. Starting with one hour. We wanted actors to become comfortable with existing in the films world without thinking of an end or what might be expected in the short term. We asked the actors to fill the room. There would be no ‘ audience,’ or ‘ fourth wall’ but for the gaze of the camera, which was to be ignored. The time allowed actors to become comfortable with the camera roaming about.

They started the hour with glances at the camera but soon disregarded it. The whole space started to come alive with an inner logic. Groups of teens formed, unformed, conversation strands travelled with them, collided, expanded and constricted. I was reminded of the manic energy from my own teenage years that would consume my friends and I; excited, yearning and unreal. The teens harnessed their ability to conflate everything and anything as a way command attention. The best thing about today was seeing how comfortable the group of teens are in each other’s company, they are happy to chat, gossip and play amongst themselves, which adds a palpable realism to every task we give them.

 In fact, every specific acting task we give them comes out of this base level of community they have developed, it provides a natural resting place they can return to in a scene, so that doing nothing, pausing or waiting never feels like an empty vacuum. Siobhan and I had a great chat after todays rehearsal fuelled by the productive and exciting energy that was so generous today. I think Siobhan Jackson and I are very good at providing counterpoints of inquiry or invention for each other. For instance, one of us may venture into an ambiguous description about what we are interested in that lacks any great clarity but is full of feeling and intuition, while the other offers a running interpretation that attempts to clarify and understand. This dynamic goes beyond supporting any deficiency in thinking and instead offers a dynamic that encompasses the qualities of two types of thinking. Structure, clarity, feeling and nuance dance together. (As they should on screen.) This is also akin to feeling the answer to a question, but not knowing the answer. In conversation the feeling is expressed by the speaker with all its emotion, stimulus and potency. The listener becomes an interpreter a little outside the experience whose brain can dance with the emotion and search for connections, meanings and insights. When these insights are offered in response, they are gifts won from the meeting of two minds. I think Siobhan and I are good at naturally switching conversational roles where we provide these kinds of counterpoints for each other. There is pleasure in bringing things to the other to find out what will be sparked, understood or invented.

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