Filmmaking / Directing : Unscripted films? by Jackie Sass

Jackie Sass

Unscripted films?

I'm curious if you've ever shot an unscripted film where you have a basic premise and characters, then you just film their interactions? Does this sound like a terrible idea, or have you had success with it?

Dan MaxXx

yep wasting Time and money. Have a plan

Andrew Cahill

This is what cassavettes did for some of his greatest films. So it's not a terrible idea. But remember that it took him over a year to finish his films (partially due to the cost and time associated with film) Just know that it can take a lot of time and be patient with your talent, keep the crew small etc.

Jackie Sass

I appreciate your insights. Robin, thank you for giving me those examples of improv movies; I had no idea those films were done that way! I think, considering the caliber of work I'd be able to churn out at this time, going with a script makes the most sense. I figured I'd need some amazing actors to pull off a project like this and I think my instinct was right. Part of wanting to film like this is curiosity as to how it would turn out based on the cast's ability, and part is because I am not the most well-versed screenwriter at this time. This line of thinking led me to wonder, "Should I bother with a script? Can I even do that??"

Andrew Cahill

I would highly recommend working with the screenwriters on Stage 32. For my next project I found a writer on stage 32 who wrote one of the best short film scripts I've ever read.

Majeed Sayibu

I did in 2014. A whole feature length. It actually turned out very good until we realized in our excitement we had forgotten to shoot some key simple scenes that could have made made it flow better. And it was too late cos I was already back in the states (I shot in Germany) and all the actors were scattered across the globe. Couldn't even get a workable short story out of it.

Michael DiGiorgio Jr.

I did this for a mockumentary film that I was working on. It was challenging, but actually resulted in some genuinely hilarious scenes that I would never have been able to script on my own. I say go for it, just make sure you have a general plan for coverage, and an overall objective that you are trying to accomplish in each scene for each of your actors to work towards.

Owen Mowatt

Unscripted film starring....Jackie Sass. How can you go wrong? ;)

Regina Lee

In addition to Christopher Guest, Lynn Shelton: http://filmmakermagazine.com/archives/issues/summer2009/humpday.php

Kristina Garant

Think it all depends on what you want from the finale project. I have some some friends who did this. Biggest thing I heard them talk about is lack of angels on certain things... so I would recommend teaming up wiht people who have equipment that compliments yours and plan where cameras are and do some rough blocking.

Jackie Sass

Hahaha, Owen Mowatt!!! You know what is in my heart.:-) Thank you everyone for your insights. I need to start tapping into the talent here on Stage 32.

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

Jackie. I've seen business plans for two low budget unscripted projects. One was a comedy. I passed on that one because I could not find the laughs in the examples of story moments included in the business plan. If you have people experienced in improv, particularly if you know for certain that they can make others laugh, it might work. If you go unscripted, I'd ask yourself, How do I plan my shots? And if unscripted, I'd look for a story which is intensely visual. I'd err on the side of minimal dialogue. [ Your actors may hate you but that's their problem. :) ] For example, I saw the work of an actress who featured herself in a short film. She came up a brief (7 minutes or so) and (almost entirely) visual comedy, a la the old silent comedians.. And it worked as a show piece for her. (I don't know if she was unscripted.) Just suggestions for thought. Good luck.

Erik Grossman

SWINGERS was largely improvised, I think. At least, they just had an outline of the conversations and such. Apparently, Toby MaGuire and some others filmed an all-improv movie way back when, and Toby has had that shit shut down.

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