Takeaways from Michael Grossman.
–If you have an ugly frame, fix it. Move the furniture, adjust the physical space of the set, do whatever it takes to make the frame look better. “As long as we’re not crossing the eye-line of the actors, you can get away with almost anything.”
–If something is working just fine, don’t mess with it. If your lead actress is giving usable performances in every take, don’t waste your time directing her. There are plenty of other things to improve, instead; just be glad you have a good, dependable performer.
–On the other hand, “if all your takes look the same, you’re wasting your time.” If you’ve gotten what you need out of a set-up, move on or make changes in the performance, as this will give you more options in the editing room. “Don’t overshoot; shoot more coverage.”
–Don’t be afraid to use marks for your actors’ positions. But those marks only apply to a single set-up. If you move the camera, move the marks to make the new frame look good.
–As much as possible, stack your actors and their interactions in The Alley of the frame. I believe this is another way of describing mise-en-scene. Capturing everything in a single frame is an efficient way to tell the story, and it adds depth to the setting. Try to avoid inserts and cut-away shots.
–Be as prepared as possible. This ensures you get everything you need, and creates freedom to try different things.