A couple weeks ago I went to the Tribeca Film Festival to hear Catherine Hardwicke’s master class "Prepping to shoot." Unsurprisingly, she was awesome. Despite the jet leg coming down from filming the Eyewitness pilot in Toronto, she was incredibly energetic and excited to share her insider knowledge. It was cool to see how her energy really lent itself to the visceral approach she has when training & directing actors, but more on that in a bit.
If I could sum up her motto for the talk it would be, “preparation is the key to success.” Which—she didn’t actually say, but she’d agree . . . I think.
Be the most prepared person on set. Think through the other departments, anticipate and get ahead of as many problems as you can.
Walk through the space you’ll be shooting and block it, make seating charts, anticipate the natural light shifts, go through all your camera angles and shot lists. Again, by making decisions ahead of time you’ll minimize debates day of and use the time saved for shooting, getting the performances you need and being open to spontaneity.
Stay as close to the actors as possible. Hardwicke doesn’t do video village, she wants to be next to the actors so that she knows if they are in the moment.
She swears by training for the actors whether it’s fight training or learning how to sand a surfboard.
Create the most authenticate experience as possible for your actors. She gave the example of putting an actor in low-income housing instead of a fancy hotel to match the character’s life. (Also highlighted as a budget saver, win-win).
Simplify whenever possible. Whether that’s using a wig that will be easier to take on & off throughout the filming day, or streamlining your shot list, no one wins points for being overly complicated.
Along with a slew of other advice, she also emphasized the need to marry the right & left brain when thinking through the logistics as part of the creative process.
As if the generosity of her sharing her time & experience weren’t enough, when we were leaving, Nexxus gave us swag bags. Catherine Hardwicke & free shampoo? Guys, I was pumped.