Beneath, Between, Behind the Scenes: Creating an Intimate Moment

M. Francis Enright
4 min readApr 10, 2024
Photo by Billy Huynh on Unsplash

M. Francis Enright is a filmmaker. His first short film, HR, was accepted into zero of the 23 festivals to which it was submitted. His second short film, The Routine, was nominated for Best Dark Comedy at the Georgia Comedy Film Festival. His third short film, Say Your Name, won Best Drama and Best Director at the Top Shorts Films Festival and has been selected for the 2024 Boston International Film Festival.

Blocking a scene is essential. Meaning where are the characters standing? Where are they sitting? When do they move? To what spot?

When do these actions take place? On what lines? What motivates the actions? Why would a character stand at a certain point? Why would they sit? What are they doing with their bodies? Why?

Why? Why? Why?

My first answer is usually I dunno. Just stand over there. Do what feels natural.

But actors need more than that. It is not a natural situation. There are lights and a camera. The actor has to hit certain marks so the camera can focus on them. They are miked for sound.

So as the director, I need to give them specific actions to do at specific times. And I need to give them reasons for what they are doing.

‘You’re character is anxious so think about adjusting your glasses every few seconds.’

‘Your character is not being totally honest so do not face the other character when you’re speaking.’

Simple seeming scenes can become very complicated but it is essential because the actions need to be in synched with the emotion of the scene.

But it all can’t come from me. The actors also need to understand the emotion of the scene and use their bodies to convey that emotion.

There is a lot of back and forth, which is all part of the process.

Marcus Jones comes out of the audition space having been told, yet again, “That’s great; we’ll be in touch.” He bombed the audition and he is pissed.

Lionel Wright, an older man in his late sixties, is standing outside, having auditioned for the same film, though not the same part. He probably heard the same thing Marcus did but he’s been through so many auditions that it doesn’t faze him.

The scene starts as a casual conversation, the ins and outs of auditioning and rejection. Lionel is still looking at his phone, glancing at Marcus every so often. The actors are far apart in the frame, at the opposite edges.

LIONEL:“Yeah, man. It’s rough. There’s a lotta competition, even for these little films, don’t pay anything. Actors lined up around the block to work for free.”


You been in anything?

As the scene progresses the actors move closer together. Lionel comes over to Marcus and sits beside him, handing him a folder with his headshot and resume.

Lionel hands Marcus his headshot and resume. Marcus turns them over, looking at Lionel’s long list of work.


Damn! You’re in SAG?


Yeah, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot. I can get maybe a hundred for extra and background work. Some commercials here and there and they pay pretty good but they’re not real regular.


But you make a living at it.

Lionel snorts and shakes his head.


Nah, not even close. Most of that is unpaid. Indie features, short films, plays. But that’s the best stuff. You never know which one might hit, make you a star!


So how you get by?


Uber, baby, Uber. I got mouths to feed.


I’m driving for DoorDash.

Marcus stands in frustration. What is there to say? Lionel regards him. This young man needs his advice.

When Marcus sits back down the two are now very close. This is an intimate conversation. The actions need to match the words and convey the emotion of the scene. Lionel knows where Marcus is at emotionally.


It’s hard man, it is hard.

So why be an actor?

I love it though…being on set, working with everybody, the lights, the crew, you know, the process. You got to. Otherwise, why would you put up with all this shit?


I heard you doin’ that Hamlet jazz. (Lionel has to chuckle at that one. It is such a cliché.)


Yeah, I just found that online. I don’t know; I don’t really get it.


It’s about suicide.

This was the most intimate moment in the scene.

The camera was on the slider with the sole intention of pushing in on LIONEL’S face, which is dark and angular and made for a lens.

It was his moment; his moment of contemplating what to tell the young actor beside him about creativity and suicide, walking that edge between desperation and desire. About why he wants to be an actor.

The shot was long push in shot of Lionel’s marvelous face, but we lost the light. The sun went behind some clouds, which were a thick blanket by that point. The Director of Photography told me the shot of Lionel wouldn’t match the shots of Marcus. We ended up doing the shot in a later scene and it was beautiful.

Rolling with the punch; the story of my life making films.

Why do I want to make films? Why do Marcus and Lionel want to act in them? In all likelihood, nothing will come of it.

Because if you push hard enough, you can find the light. It’s always there. It might be behind a cloud but it is always there.

You got to find it.



M. Francis Enright

Co-creator and cohost of The Working Experience Podcast. We explore what people do for work, how they do it and how they feel about it. Twice a week!