Mischa Baka: Saltbush
Showing posts with label Saltbush. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saltbush. Show all posts

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The long take

June 14, 2018 0
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.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Salt Bush Trauma

June 07, 2018 0
Salt Bush Trauma
Today we shared a passage from Jessie Coles ‘ Staying’ ( Page 248) to explore the idea of trauma within a character. We discussed how and what trauma can be and places in the body and environment that can accommodate and hold trauma.

We began a 'Together and Alone' dance series with guest dancer Rebekah Stuart dancing with Mark Wilson. Her energy and capacity to be bold and wild helped model how far the students can go in an abstract way.





When we gave the teen actors scripted text to include in their dance the dialogue came alive with a great sense of movement and choreography.

Rebekah was impressed by how authentic the dialogue sounded and how easily it was taken up by the young actors. All the dancing had paid off in allowing the body to drive the performance over the text/mind.   

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Alone together improvisation with moments embedded.

May 31, 2018 0
Alone together improvisation with moments embedded.


Today we worked with our teenage actors and revisited the ‘ Alone-together’ dance exercise introduced when first meeting the girls. This time the boys became part of the exercise.

This exercise follows a simple trajectory of having participants start alone and come together over the course of a dance to music. It drops the performers into an immediate awareness of the other while they negotiate this coming together. It proves very useful in helping the actors be in the moment responding to each other.






This time we added another element to the exercise. Before a group performed we gave them a very specific posture ( a choreographed tableau) and a line or two, such as:

“ Why do you wear such tight clothes.”

A natural sense of responding to each other and drawing together from the exercise imbues the specific moments with a sense of truth.  

As explained to the teenage actors, this exercise models some of the process we will use to make the film on set. We intend to have broad directions within scenes that govern if their characters are coming together or apart. Within those broad directions improvisation can take place, and within that improvisation we imbed specific lines or actions that define a turning point in a scene, a key dramatic moment, or important feeling.  

This process aims to help promote a sense of realism in a scene by allowing the actors to ‘ dance,’ with each other. When making the film this dance will become more metaphorical, but will still promote an awareness that brings the actors into the present moment.

In one of the exercises we had mark ‘ dance’ with two teenage girls who had a specific tableau. Their tableau presented an intimate image of love and affection. An elaborate story developed out of the improvisation of an adult parent wary of the children’s love affair, and their attempt to hide from his gaze. One of the teenage audience recounted the complexities of this dynamic excitedly.   

Another exercise had two boys and one girl dancing. It demonstrated that drama was present in the simple power imbalance of more boys than girls. This proved a good moment to describe how sometimes drama does not need to be performed, as it is simply present within a dynamic or structure, and as an actor, being present is enough.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Pitching the dramatic scenes to Shirong.

May 29, 2018 0
Pitching the dramatic scenes to Shirong.
Today we met with Shirong to discuss her role in our film. We pitched a key scene in which we would like her character be naked, distressed and muddy. We were pleased to find that Shirong was open to the scenes. We made it clear that the confronting elements of the scene would be completely discussed and approved by the other actors and their parents.


The idea is that this dramatic and intense scene will provide an extreme counterpoint to a character that is otherwise quite, reserved and well behaved. We want to signal to the audience early on that this character has a great trauma hiding under a quiet exterior. Shirong already has an intriguing quietness that compels you to lean in and look more closely, and listen more carefully.


Shirong in character

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Story telling and story listening.

May 24, 2018 0
Story telling and story listening.
Mishka attended our 2nd rehearsal to share stories with the teenage actors.
This was to model the type of personal stories we will have the characters in the film tell and set a tone for how they may be delivered. Mishka always tells her stories with heart and vulnerability.

Story telling and story listening. 


Mishka is an amazing story teller, either stories form her life, or fantastical ones, she tells them with emotion and captivating vulnerability.

It feels like you have been chosen to hear a special secret when she tells a story. Seeing our actors enthralled by her stories was beautiful.







I used the camera to film them listening, previously discussing how they can surrender to being watched by the camera. I think really listening to a story opens you up and makes you vulnerable. This is what we captured, their vulnerability. The same vulnerability that must be made available to the camera, the audience, and other actors when making a film. 

Listening to Mishka tell a story. 



Thursday, May 17, 2018

1st SaltBush Rehearsal.

May 17, 2018 0
1st SaltBush Rehearsal.

Today we brought together all the actors who successfully auditioned for the part of ‘ teenage girl.’ Nine actors ranging from 15 to 17.

Today we established familiarity and how we will be communicating and working during the making of the film.

I began the workshop with a relaxation on the floor that rises up into a dance. I asked the group to move thorough the doorways that arise between each person. I asked the group to listen to their hearts and bodies and to not think too much, or be critical.   

Siobhan and myself each danced with the teenagers.

We played a game of ‘musical sleeping bags’ keeping true to the trekking story of our film.





The girls tumbled, pushed, pulled and wrestled their way into sleeping bags, the physical abandon promoted the performative quallities we are looking for.

An improvised scene had all the girls sleeping in their bags. One student was selected to go without. Her objective was to convince another to give up their bag for her. This worked well. Moment: Convincing a friend to go out into the dark to help pee in the bush, then returning to steal her bag.

Chatting over snacks was important for the group to know and feel comfortable with each other.

Finally, we had pairs of two perform for the group. The instruction was to dance Separate and find a sense of coming together within the dance.

The group could see how coming together was achieved through body language, eye contact and positioning.

Siobhan and me described how charting coming together, moving apart and back together again can provide structure for a scene, and how we will use this concept and language to direct a scenes shape.  

I always feel a bit nervous getting to know people, but I feel this workshop did well to find a sense of ease with the group and establish the tone of how we will be working.

I will take some of the ideas form this workshop and place them into a final draft document to start developing the story.