When I have a question regarding actors or acting, I often call my friend Sarah. She’s an incredibly talented actor with tremendous experience. More importantly, she truly understands the craft of acting and what actors need.
Traditionally, a script is finalized before actors are cast. Though some revisions are made, actors generally have little control over their lines and action. On the other hand, filmmaker John Cassavetes thoroughly discussed and workshopped his scripts with his actors, resulting in countless rewrites. Contrary to popular belief, actors did not simply improvise their lines in a Cassavetes film; they definitely used a script. However, through collaboration with Mr. Cassavetes, they were integral in developing and creating their characters and dialogue.
I met with Sarah last week and discussed my interest in approaching my film similar to John Cassavetes. I believe beginning with a loose script and workshopping it with actors is the way to go. Sarah agreed. She recommended I outline my plot and hone in on my characters. Then, once I develop a first draft, she encouraged me to go forth with casting.
Thanks to Sarah, I have fully committed to this approach and hope to begin auditioning actors within a few short weeks. Rather than abide strictly to a previously contrived script, most dialogue and action will be collaboratively developed with my actors. And stay tuned: I will post audition and rehearsal videos, so you can partake in the collaborative process as well.
Below are some relevant thoughts by John Cassavetes in Cassavetes on Cassavetes by Ray Carney (2001, pg. 216):
I love the last line and couldn’t agree more, though at times being “locked in” might be a good thing… What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.