How Cameron Crowe Used An Unusual Technique For The Dialogue In Almost Famous

As one might intuit, Crowe has a deep, abiding affection for pop music. This bears itself out on his films’ oft-amazing soundtracks. It seems that on “Almost Famous,” Crowe would relay direction to his actors in the form of his favorite songs. Fugit recalls that Crowe seemed to grow antsy whenever a scene began to feel too structured and would start interrupting to retain a certain degree of naturalness. Fugit said: 

“During scenes that were really rehearsed, I think I could sometimes become too technically focused or too mechanically focused. So Cameron would just start playing songs during the middle of the take or he would start saying things to me while we were in the middle of the scene.”

Crowe also seemed to frequently brainstorm — and film — what appears to have been a long series of “mini scenes.” Fugit recalls that Crowe seemingly constructed a patchwork of short, brief moments between characters, and then would spring them on his actors. Fugit called these scenes “capsules,” and it seems they served a vital anti-rehearsal function, perhaps employed as a means to keep Crowe’s cast improvisationally limber and conversational. As Fugit put it:

“He also liked to plan these little morsels or capsules of interactions. It would be like a set of dialogue interactions that lasted maybe five to 10 seconds at most. These short, sweet interactions that he would have on standby. We had rehearsed them, but they didn’t have a specific time or place in the script. He didn’t have them written as part of a scene. He would just have them ready to go whenever he felt.”

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