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the muster
Our film challenge outfit made an auspicious debut this Sunday evening at Pauper's Pub. We managed to muster six of our ten members for this meeting. That's actually not too bad. I've seen worse. Two of the remaining four notified me in advance that they couldn't make it. The third tried very hard to be there but got delayed so long by a student film shoot that it became pointless to attend. The last seems to have dropped out of human contact since being chosen for the team.
The most nuts-and-bolts issue we discussed was the schedule. It is really important that everyone understand in general terms what we are aiming for and when. Specifics about exactly how we are going to achieve it will come later, on Wednesday...

Improvise the FIRST STANZA of a three-part narrative, with the requirements in the Challenge Pack as a seed.
Goal: To keep our Saturday options open by developing an intriguing opening act that promises as many different conclusions as possible.
Method: Cycle actors through narrative questions until we find some opening intrigues that all six actors seem to connect with fairly rapidly. The idea here is not to set ourselves up to pick the locks on our emotional barriers (as you might in an acting workshop), but rather to find the doors that at least seem to already be open.

Improvise the SECOND STANZA of the narrative.
Goal: To investigate the meaning of the questions raised on Friday night, without predetermining the final stanza.
Method: (a) Let the actors digress further from the 'point' of the first stanza. (b) Take the existing situations and add new mysteries or characters, or any catalyst that promises to precipitate the story's conclusion .
Improvise the THIRD STANZA of the narrative.
Goal: To find the most satisfying and meaningful possible conclusion to the situation we've set up for ourself, while rehearsing the camera and the actors through what has gone before.
Method: (a) Let the actors play out the stories to the logical conclusions they've secretly been harbouring. (b) Ask the actors to play out the stories to any conclusions BUT the logical ones they've secretly been harbouring.

HALFWAY POINT. At this time, we should have the narrative structure for our story. If more than one 'strain' of story with different cast members is still alive, this is a good time to assess whether we can afford to pursue them both and if not, which to run with for the last 24 hours.

Rehearse the final narrative. No dialogue will be written down; only point-form summaries of the narrative milestones to be achieved in the course of the repeated improvs.

Shoot the final takes as a NIGHT SHOOT.*
Shoot the final takes as a DAY SHOOT.

12pm–6pmAdd credits.
Add whatever musical cues possible in the time allotted.
Correct whatever sound and colour possible in the time allotted.
7pmDeliver the finished film.

* We will only shoot this late at night if it feels called-for by the storyline, if it's compatible with the challenge requirements, if the lighting situation is not prohibitively complex, and if all agree that it is worth it to stay up late and do it; in the improbable event that all of this occurs, you can all sleep through Sunday morning, so there will be no all-nighter in any case.

There was a lot more discussed at the meeting about equipment, the priorities we'll be setting, and how difficult it is to apply Meisner's acting techniques in such a short space of time, which are all complex enough that I would like to discuss it with those who missed the meeting in person. But in general, some things established at the meeting were...

  1. Actors should come Friday prepared with some materials that could be used for different improv activities.
  2. Actors are responsible for 'writing' their characters' personalities. The director is responsible for 'selecting' out the working plotlines.
  3. Actors should think about what range of costumes they could have available by Saturday, and also what range of props they might have available that could quickly visually 'peg' a character to having a certain career or preoccupation.
  4. Women will do their own make-up. Please keep it as low-key as natural as possible, since we will be shooting in natural light which makes heavy make-up look fake. Only very basic make-up should be applied for the men like eyeliner and powder.
  5. Fraser will likely have a van available for at least part of the weekend of the shoot.
  6. My website is hard to navigate. (Due to some stubborn design decisions which I'll be thinking over when I get a chance.)

I'm sure there are more quick points I could add from the meeting that I'm forgetting, but it's late and I'm losing my steam, so I'm going to have to update you all further later on. Don't forget that the next meeting is this Wednesday, June 1st, at 8pm, and it will focus on explaining my narrative structure. The location is to be decided, so please watch your email.

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