When you stack your cast with some of the best improvisational talent in the film and television business, asking them to stick to the script in front of them is a moot point. Attempting to film improv, however, is a risky business -- you never know where it's going to come from or when it's going to click.
It was a task that weighed heavily on director Paul Feig, whose 'Bridesmaids' is boasts some of the most notable improvisers around (Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Ellie Kemper). The director knew his cast was bound to take the scripted scenes to new heights with a bit of off-the-page dialogue, but capturing those moments posed a problem for the director, according to Variety, because "cross-shooting" -- the industry term for filming two actors involved in a conversation at the same time -- is not typically done in film.
"Most cinematographers just despise it and refuse to do it," Feig told the trade magazine. But Feig got it done. To find out how, read on.
Knowing that a cast led by 'Saturday Night Live' cast member and Groundlings alum Wiig would mean that he'd face plenty of unscripted hilarity, Feig turned to Robert Yeoman, a director of photography who used cross-shooting on 'Get Him to the Greek,' another film produced by Judd Apatow. "Bob had gotten into that style, and it was a no-brainer to hire him," Feig said.
On most films, two cameras are used in any given scene but both are trained on one actor, with one camera shooting wide and the other in close-up; the scene is then shot over again with the cameras filming the other person. On 'Bridesmaids,' Feig and Yeoman opted to point different cameras at different actors during two-way conversations.
"We do so much improv and throw so many curveballs at the actors while they're performing that we record both sides of the conversation at the same time," Feig told Variety. "You have these amazing moments that happen and if you've only got one side of it, it's impossible to recreate it again on the other side; you lose that first-time magic. This type of comedy is never the same when you say it twice."