PDA

View Full Version : philosophy....



dstevens
08-22-2005, 03:36 PM
Curious what people think about.....

I'm still new to filmmaking, but I've written and directed a few shorts, all zero budget stuff. Mostly it's me writing, directing, editing, doing all the leg work, dealing with all the technical issues (sound familiar).

I'm delving feverishly into the technical jargon: frame rates, lines of resolution, etc. It's all interesting to me, and someone in your production has to keep up with that.

But- for some of us, whose main love is directing, don't you feel you can be sucked so much into this technology you forget about things like acting, writing etc, supposedly the things that really make a film. Your stuff can't look amateurish, but I've heard the criticism that modern film schools are turning out technology masters, not directors.

As a self-taught no-budget director, I find myself apparently breaking a lot of rules. I talk to the writer (when I'm not the writer) and I listen to the actors - if they've been working through the scene and have a script change, I usually say fine. It seems a beautiful way to make films, just the artists -director, writer and actors telling a story together.

But I'm forced to spend a lot of time mastering all the details - everything about audio, everything about cinematography, using the NLE, etc.

Does anyone else feel this tension?

Jeremy Ordan
08-22-2005, 03:44 PM
Ummmm... That's called filmmaking.

If you take on a director role you are wearing many hats. You are the question answerer. People come to you and ask 'how does this look,' ' what do you want from this scene from us actors,' & 'what are you looking for as far as sound is concerned?'

It's called filmmaking. If all you want is to worry about the actors then you need to move more towards stage... I'm not trying to be an ass, but where its just writer, director, and actors, that's called stage.

dstevens
08-22-2005, 04:07 PM
No, you're not being an ass. and I hear what you're saying. the thing I like about filmmaking is it exercises my organizational skills and my technical skills as well as my creativity.

I saw an interview with Francis Ford Coppola, who points out that film (which you correctly point is a very different animal from stage) is a technological endeavor - digital video is just the latest technology going back about a century.

He also points out (and I didn't go to film school or get a theater degree, so I don't know if everyone agrees with this characterization) is that film people and theater people don't talk to each other. Different art forms, to be sure, but with some things in common, yes? Actors create characters, and characters are an important part of storytelling.

So I totally agree if you want to be a director, you gotta at least know about a million different fields, if only to talk meaningfully to your sound person, your lighting person, etc. But it seems easy to get wrapped up into learning the technology such that one loses sight of the other elements in filmmaking?

It reminds of arts and crafts - it takes skill to make a chair that doesn't break, but some people make a bare stool, another one makes a chair that's also art.

GenJerDan
08-22-2005, 04:48 PM
The difference (to me) between stage and screen: on the stage, the story is pushed out to the audience by the actors (etc); on the screen, the story is pulled out by the audience.

Hmmm...film is more voyeuristic, you're peeking in on something through this magic rectangle, not having it thrown at you.

It makes a lot more sense inside my head. Sorry.

Dan

dstevens
08-22-2005, 04:57 PM
That's an interesting image - on stage the audience's space is 'invaded' by the actors, in film, you have to seduce the audience to reach into the box and pull it out.

Robert86
08-22-2005, 05:00 PM
I get you GenJerDan. Yeah, film is a lot more subtle. A lot more depth to it with subtext and other implications, not to say that the stage is not a good way to tell a story. But like you said, the story of a film is meant to be pulled out by the audience.

craigbowman
08-22-2005, 05:12 PM
But- for some of us, whose main love is directing, don't you feel you can be sucked so much into this technology you forget about things like acting, writing etc


No.

Everything should support a great story. If the story isn't great, everything else becomes moot, but not necessarily irrelevant.

So if the story is great, the acting is great, but the sound is bad..

David G. Smith
08-22-2005, 07:19 PM
I was a theatre major in college and the two means of expression are different. Theatre is very much more of a social event. From the start of rehearsal, the whole cast is together and they work together until the end of the plays run and while the play runs, the immediate feedback from the audience is what makes it so worthwhile. Filmmaking, while still a colloaborative artform, has much more work done, either solitarily, or in just small groups, especially post, where long hours alone, can be part of the work flow. I just seems that different types of people gravitate to the different worlds.

Theatre is an actor's medium where the essence of the art is the dialogue. Film is a director's medium where the essence of the art is editing, the temporal arrangment of moving pictures and sounds, to best tell the story.

I think that more filmmakers should be more versed in theatre, at least by going and watching plays. Some of the most moving experiences I have ever had were viewing well executed, moving plays.

Jeremy Ordan
08-22-2005, 07:28 PM
It's funny... For all of my projects I only hire actors with stage experience. In fact, rather than doing casting calls (which I have done several) I normally prefer to go to local low budget theatre productions. There are two big reasons I do this:
1. I hate to put this as number one, but I'm being honest. Here the people who are doing small theatre aren't paid. It's an important issue since we work with such a low budget on every project.
2. Theatre people want to discuss character, motivation, and go into depth to get into character. I am not saying this isn't true of all actors, but with theatre people, there is something that just gets me, and I love the way they come off.

There are of course problems with working with people from theatre.
1. They don't always understand that you don't need to annunciate every single word because you aren't playing to a 200 person house, you're playing to a boom 3' above your head.
2. They don't understand how consistency is important (I have an hour worth of footage that I cannot edit because our actor played the scene differently in every take and would not take direction, my fault, not his)
3. The whole talking on top of each other doesn't always come off very well when you are doing OTS shots. This is something theatre people really don't understand most of the time.

I do believe though that a director in film/video MUST be an artist of multiple trades.
That was the point I was originally making. Then again, I don't know anything and make talking head short films... What do I know?

craigbowman
08-22-2005, 08:45 PM
It's funny... For all of my projects I only hire actors with stage experience.

This is more common than you think.

If you spend a couple of sessions with your actors, you can give them a quick acting for film 101 which covers all of the issues you listed along with information on how blocking and staging for film works, how and why its important to hit their marks, continuity issues, and the importance of active listening.

I would also recommend the Per Holmes "Hollywood Camera Work" series for aspiring film or television actors, just as I would recommend Judith Weston's "Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film & Television " book for any aspiring Directors.

Gills
08-22-2005, 09:42 PM
Personally, I think the director should do more than sit in the chair and yell at the crew where he wants shit set up (which is unfortunately how most "big names" do it today). I like to try to challenge myself by taking on as many responsibilities as possible without overloading myself, to find my limits. A good, well-rounded director can find a balance between technical and artistic. Those who can't become film school professors. :laugh:

brianluce
08-22-2005, 10:30 PM
hey dt, it's a trap, find other people to do and worry about technical stuff. focus on the script and the casting.

dstevens
08-23-2005, 05:48 AM
Yeah my curse/advantage is actually I am very interested in the technical aspects. But I don't want to short the other areas.
'Sfunny, I live in Boston, MA which has a tiny (but active) filmmaking community, there doesn't seem to be a lot of co-operation. You'd think it would make sense for what people there are to pool their talent and resources, make some terrific films and develop a local film scene. But it seems like everyone wants to work on just their little projects.

Plus my situation may be different from other folks on this board... I'm approaching 40, I have a day job as a software programmer, and I'm tired of doing it. Need to do something creative. I don't think I have any illusions of being a big shot director, if I got a career ultimately as an editor/videographer doing wedding videos, corporate stuff, and occassionally did something creative on low budget stuff, but eeked out a living, I'd be happy. At this stage of life, just getting and keeping a job seems like winning!

XCheck
08-23-2005, 08:24 AM
Plus my situation may be different from other folks on this board... I'm approaching 40, I have a day job as a software programmer, and I'm tired of doing it. Need to do something creative. I don't think I have any illusions of being a big shot director, if I got a career ultimately as an editor/videographer doing wedding videos, corporate stuff, and occassionally did something creative on low budget stuff, but eeked out a living, I'd be happy. At this stage of life, just getting and keeping a job seems like winning!Not that different... I'm going on 43, otherwise my situation is almost identical. I don't intend to quit my day job (yet), but doing film and photography on the side keeps me from going nuts. :thumbsup: I am sure a lot of people here are in similar state of mind (judging from a lot of entries that obviously come from people with a lot of computer experience).

As far as casting thatre actors: I was back home in Czech Rep. two weeks ago. Usually I don't watch TV (not in general, and definitely not when travelling), but this time was a little different. I think I found why Czech TV & film mostly sucks these days. They cast all the theatre actors, and the director's talent doesn't seem to be abundant (the directors that are good IMO - Ondricek, Sverak, Hrebejk - names probably unknown to outside world - only do one film every couple of years, leaving most of the local production to the second tier).

The result is a lot of really bad TV. I was actually surprised how bad it was - I always thought of Czech cinema as somewhat avantgarde. All those theatre actors (which are actually big names back home) shouting from the top of their lungs in a close up two-shot, discussing military secrets (it was a 19th century period piece). You guys wouldn't believe how ridiculous that looked!

When I mentioned that they shouldn't cast theatre actors for film & TV, the rest of the family jumped on me like a swarm of wasps: "They would starve", "What about the American soap opera crap we see all that time" :huh: , and the like. It was time to shut up... :lipsrseal

There is a reason I live here and don't move back to El Czecho. :cry:

Jeremy Ordan
08-23-2005, 10:02 AM
It's funny that this thread has really evolved into a discussion on community as well as the difference between stage and film actors.

Recently I have gotten really excited about some of these one-minute film festivals. For me, I am normally so long winded with my writing and speaking (see any of my posts for example) that the challenge of a one-minute project is really exciting. Twenty minutes, no problem, one minute, big problem.

I just spoke with an actress I have admired for a while. She is very talented and normally does a ton of roles. I have her in mind for this one-minute film. She was so turned off the moment I told her it was a one-minute film, though.

One of the big similarities that you will see with talent is that they want to have big parts, and also be in longer projects. This just hit me now as I hung up the phone with her.

She loved the idea of a leading role, and hated the idea of the project being 60 seconds in length. Somethings never change.