Chapter 23 of 32 from Ron Howard

Frost/Nixon: Alternate Staging Possibilities

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Now that Ron knows he has all his master shots and additional coverage, he explores other possibilities—often following an actor’s natural instincts.

Topics include: Energize the Scene

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OK, so we're going to go through that version of the blocking again. And every once in a while we're going to stop, I'll walk in and explain the reasoning for that staging, and talk through some of the other possibilities that we might have been able to consider. And then we'll carry on from there. And action. What revolution David? You just let Richard Nixon claim the country was in a state of revolution with protesters bombing and assaulting police officers. That's not what I remember. What I remember was people protesting peacefully and legitimately about the Vietnam War. That's what I remember. Music off, please. Music off. By the end? OK, great. So this is a position that the actor's first and foremost and very importantly fell into very, very naturally. It also lent itself to a good wide shot, an establishing shot that we could do to establish the room, particularly the moment when chases out the imaginary actor who would one day be there playing the radio. It also creates some space. And it gives an opportunity for a shot here that we did where you have David in the foreground and you see that he's trying to ignore the pressure that's being put on him by everybody. And it also gives a kind of a space as though he's surrounded by three individuals who have a strong point of view or are upset with him. So spatially I felt it created different lines that we could also work with. Over the shoulder here I remember we did. And an over the shoulder here that we did. So again, it's this idea of David being ganged up on by everyone. So this first stop, again, is where they organically landed when we did the first rehearsal. And maybe I tweaked it a little bit just in order to position for the camera, but this is where you guys naturally felt inclined to go, which is always a good sign. It's a good idea by the way, to let actors begin to stage it on their own. You might have one or two principles that you need. For example, it needs to play near a window, or a light source, or you wanted the sun at their backs, or just some basic idea like that. But having been an actor, I've always found that anytime the actors can establish the staging on their own it's very helpful, because it's organic to them. And sometimes they'll have an instinct about something that is different from the one that you had as the director while you were making out the shot list that works very, very well and might give you an idea. Like I remember at one point you sort of moved. Yeah. Or I could tell you wanted to begin to move. Yeah, that instinct. And then you didn't. And then that gave me the idea that, well, that would be a good spot for a very organic walk away from David. So those are the kind of things. Anyway, this is where this staging landed. And that's sort of our first stop in the scene. OK, carry on. And actio...

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Ron Howard

Ron Howard Teaches Directing