The films (and plays) of Mike Leigh, such as Abigail’s Party, Nuts in May and Naked, are scripted entirely before they are filmed or played before an audience. Yet his method of script preparation famously requires a great deal of improvisation from the actors. Once cast by Leigh, they begin to evolve a character, prompted by his interview questions and perhaps drawing on people they know or observe.
Eventually Leigh invites characters to meet each other, to find out what happens when they connect. From these meetings, he writes the script, which he directs for filming, then edits. This can result in tremendous depth of character and a hyper-real quality to their encounters.
Perhaps it’s only the written artefact of the script, lifted above the ephemeral moments of dialogue creation, that has led to the historical neglect of the role of improvisation in the creation of these classics. Are we more easily impressed by product than process?"
Read the full blog post here.