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Composition and repositioning actors (1 reply and 1 comment)

4 months ago
MichaelBachinger 4 months ago

Hello Mr. Deakins and the forum,

i just shot a few scenes with less experienced actors for their showreels. We marked their spots to stand on but they missed those every second take which destroyed the composition. So the director pulled on their shirts to reposition them for the frame when possible.

I totally understand that they "missed" their marks, because its really about a few centimeters and this preassure to hit that spot excatly, often throws their performance off.

On the one hand i want the composition to be as perfect as i can get it, but on the other hand the performance is the core of the story, so i am not sure which side to favor. Is there any other way to get the best of both without compromising any?

What about actors that improvise a lot? This has to be a nightmare for the DoP/Operator.

After a LOT of takes we got both quite alright i think, but since we were shooting 4 2-page scenes a day it took us way longer then planned.


Kind regards,



4 months ago
dmullenasc 4 months ago

Sorry to say, but performance generally trumps perfect composition unless the incorrect composition affects the shot negatively in terms of storytelling or distracts the viewer from the performance. Ideally every elements works in perfect harmony but how often does every element fall into place perfectly for every creative department head?  For you, it may mean everything to have the background lamp perfectly off to the side of the actor's left ear, for the costume designer it may be for the necktie to be perfectly straight... and let's keep in mind that overly perfect frame may be a form of stylization that is not necessarily right for the scene.

4 months ago

Yes i agree. Maybe perfect was the wrong word. In my case it was more of a problem, since the actors often blocked the faces of other actors in OTS-shots for example. So we had to correct them...

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