Posts tagged Director
Posts tagged Director
By Scott Beggs
Think of Your Career as One Long Movie
“It’s all just one film to me. Just different chapters.”
This may be one of the most famous quotes from Altman — aside from his semi-misquoted line about no one having made a “good” movie yet — and while it’s a harrowing suggestion for a first-timer to even try to consider a gargantuan task as the first chapter, it’s also an open invitation to place Altman’s career into the context of a 60-hour feature.
No One’s Ever Made a Good Movie
That’s not exactly what he said, so Altman cleared up the comment with eloquence (in a sweet turtle neck) and a hint at what filmmakers should be striving for.
“I feel the medium of film has not yet really been explored. In other words I think that when we started film, we took it from theater, literature, and we were an extension of another art form. It’s still that way. It’s getting away from it, and I think eventually somebody will make a film that’s purely a film, and the audience can respond to as such… the only limitations are the linear ones. It has length. It has its beginning and an end and it takes a certain amount of time.”
Don’t Restrict Your Actors
From this 1983 interview
The Safe Studio System Will Never Be Safe For Original Voices
“Altman says his troubles with Fox are symptomatic of a general malaise in Hollywood. Many of the major studios are being run by people with little practical knowledge or experience about the movie industry, he says. Lacking sound instincts about what the public will buy at the box office, they try to protect their flanks by making advance sales to pay-cable systems, video disk distributors, and other markets willing to pay up front for movies not yet made. But those secondary markets are only interested in ‘safe’ projects with established stars, so it’s getting more and more difficult to float an original project or a movie starring unknowns.”
Sound familiar? Good, because it’s what Roger Ebert wrote in 1980.
After A Prairie Home Companion, Altman was asked if the movie came out the way he envisioned it. Altman dismissed the premise, saying:
“I wouldn’t know. Making a movie is like chipping away at a stone. You take a piece off here, you take a piece off there and when you’re finished, you have a sculpture. You know that there’s something in there, but you’re not sure exactly what it is until you find it.”
Don’t Take Advice From Anyone
From this interview during the Hamptons International Film Festival
From an idea to its release, a film is a constantly evolving entity. It takes its first form in the words of a screenplay that is then molded during the production shoots and finally takes its concrete shape in the editing room.
As David Lynch says, For me a film exists somewhere before you do it. It’s sitting in some abstract world, complete, and you’re just listening to it talk to you, telling you the way it’s supposed to be. But not until all the sound and music and editing has been done do you truly know what it is. Then it’s finished. It feels right, the way it’s supposed to be, or as right as it can. And when it’s finished, you’re back in a world where you don’t control anything. You just do the best you can, then say farewell.
Eighteen filmmakers share their insight on the different aspects of the filmmaking process. From screenwriting to acting, from cinematography to editing, and finally directing, these filmmakers are here to inspire you, filmmaker, on your filmmaking journey!
Read, Learn, and Absorb.
The way that I work is that I write everything in index cards, all scenes, and then I write a sentence for each scene, and then I put it up on a wall in terms of how the film plays out, and I just sit and stare at it, to see if I could find any problems in the structure. Nothing to do with dialogue, because that’s secondary, that always comes later for me. It’s all about the structure of the story, and it gives me the ability to just basically play the movie in my head.
I’m never going to be shy about anything, what I write about is what I know; it’s more about my version of the truth as I know it. That’s part of my talent, really—putting the way people really speak into the things I write. My only obligation is to my characters. And they came from where I have been.
Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you—the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound.
I try as hard as I can to not do the writing, to let the character do the writing. And what I mean by that is that for a long time you’ll be imposing your own will or maybe your own ideas on something that you love to do. Perhaps you think, “I’d love to do a car chase,” you know. So you can create some cockamamie story, you know, to get this character into a car chase but inevitably, hopefully, the character will just sort of like talk back at you and say, “I don’t want to be in this car chase. I never would’ve made a choice to begin with that would’ve gotten me into this car chase.” So hopefully you’re getting into a state of kind of autohypnosis, where the characters are kind of doing, making choices, and things are happening to them that can eventually formulate a story.
Given the choice between trivial material brilliantly told versus profound material badly told, an audience will always choose the trivial told brilliantly. Master storytellers know how to squeeze life out of the least of things, while poor storytellers reduce the profound to the banal. You may have the insight of a Buddha, but if you cannot tell story, your ideas turn dry as chalk.
It was his idea that once he had written the script, he’d pick what he considered the perfect people for the parts. Then it was theirs. And they were to come in prepared from their point of view, not to worry about the script as a whole, which…not many people work that way, most people say, “Work for the good of the script.” He’d say, “Work for the good of your character, do your character. Don’t worry, the script will take care of itself.”
Good directors can bring certain things out of you, with their intensity or gentleness or sensitivity or understanding. They can make an actor feel he can do no wrong.
I think acting is like sculpture. In other words, it’s what you take away from yourself to reveal the truth of what you are doing that makes a performance. A performance, what it is, what it deserves to be considered great or important, is always entirely made up of the actor himself and entirely achieved by what he has left in the dressing room before he came out in front of the camera. There is no such thing as becoming another character by putting on a lot of makeup. You may need to put the makeup, but what you are really doing is undressing yourself and even tearing yourself apart and presenting to the public that part of you which corresponds to what you are playing. And there is a villain in each of us, a murderer in each of us, a fascist in each of us, a saint in each of us, and the actor is the man or woman who can eliminate from himself those things which will interfere with that truth.
My heroes are no more neurotic than the audience. Unless you can feel that a hero is just as fucked up as you are, that you would make the same mistakes that he would make, you can have no satisfaction when he does commit a heroic act. Because then you can say, “Hell, I could have done that too.” And that’s the obligation of the filmmaker…to give a heightened sense of experience to the people who pay to come see his work.
I think the point of cinematography, of what we do, is intimacy. Is intent, is the balance between the familiar and the dream, it is being subjective and objective, it is being engaged and yet standing back and noticing something that perhaps other people didn’t notice before, or celebrating something that you feel is beautiful or valid, or true or engaging in some way.
The camera is the director’s pencil. It should have the greatest possible mobility in order to record the most fleeting harmony of atmosphere. It is important that the mechanical factor should not stand between the spectator and the film.
To me, when cinematography is at its best, it is very close to the state of dreaming. You know, in any other art you can’t create a situation that is as close to dreaming. Think only of the time gap. You can make things as long as you want, exactly as in a dream. You can make things as short as you want, exactly as in a dream. As a director, a creator of the picture, you are like a dreamer. You can make what you want. You can construct everything. I think that is one of the most fascinating things that exists.
For me, the strip of celluloid is put together like a musical score, & this execution is determined by the editing; just like a conductor interprets a piece of music in rubato, another will play it in a very dry & academic manner…The images themselves are not sufficient: they are very important, but are only images. The essential is the length of each image, what follows each image: it is the very eloquence of the cinema that is constructed in the editing room.
Just like a painter who does not use colours, but their correlation; blue is blue in itself, but next to green, red or yellow, it is not the same blue anymore: it changes. The aim is for the film to be made of such a correlation of images, you take two images; they are neutral, but all of a sudden, next to each other, they vibrate, life enters them: and it is not really the life of the story or of the characters, it’s the life of the film.
“Movie first, scene second, moment third.” That is the order of importance for everything.
The profession of film director can and should be such a high and precious one that no man aspiring to it can disregard any knowledge that will make him a better film director or human being.
I like the beauty of images, I like spatial treatments, I like light, I like to choose interesting locations, but that must not be in opposition to character study and keeping the mise-en-scène close to the skin. Making something sensitive is what I’m interested in; something sensuous, and sensing the world in the surroundings somehow, and also creating characters that have a psychological depth. After the Dogma movement in Scandinavia, a lot of directors seem to kind of do a lot of films with handheld video cameras and close-ups, melodrama, with no space and beauty, it’s just about the character and acting. I think both of those things should come together ideally. I think that’s my ideal as a filmmaker. To make a real movie you need to care about it all.
The director’s task is to recreate life, its movement, its contradictions, its dynamic and conflicts. It is his duty to reveal every iota of the truth he has seen, even if not everyone finds that truth acceptable. Of course an artist can lose his way, but even his mistakes are interesting provided they are sincere. For they represent the reality of his inner life, of the peregrinations and struggle into which the external world has thrown him.
I’d like to add some missing voices to this list:
I’m not a person who believes in the great difference between women and men as editors. But I do think that quality is key. We’re very good at organizing and discipline and patience, and patience is 50 per cent of editing. You have to keep banging away at something until you get it to work. I think women are maybe better at that.
Not only is a woman as well fitted to stage photodrama as a man, but in many ways she has a distinct advantage over him because of her very nature and because much of the knowledge called for in the telling of the story and the creation of the stage setting is absolutely within the province as a member of the gentler sex. She is an authority on the emotions. For centuries she had given them full play while man has carefully trained himself to control them. She has developed her finer feelings for generations, … and she is naturally religious. In matters of the heart her superiority is acknowledged, her deep insight and sensitiveness in the affairs of cupid … it seems to me that a woman is especially well qualified to obtain the very best results, for she is dealing with subjects that are almost second nature to her.
Show business is the best possible therapy for remorse.
The news is that most of the great practitioners of the art of acting know exactly what they’re doing; even in the best, most successful moments, when they let go of the awareness of what they are doing, they still, somewhere deep inside their body, know what they’re doing. There is a craft.
[on how similar the world of art is to film] Film is way different. When you’re 20ft tall on a massive screen and you’re seeing people’s lives played out on it, it’s different from a nice painting. Film is important; it can be more than reportage or a novel - it creates images people have never seen before, never imagined they’d see, maybe because they needed someone else to imagine them.
[On directing himself] The good thing I learned was that it’s okay to relinquish a little control over things when you’re making a film because it really is a collaboration. It was cool. It was like, ‘I’m not going to be caught up in every particular detail of how this thing works, or how the shot was going to look. These guys are professionals and they know what they’re doing, so how about I chill out, let them do their thing, and concentrate on the really important stuff.
Interesting thread on screenwriting camera directions and directing from the page.
It’s almost like a can’t not do it type of thing.
Edgar Wright: “Please enjoy the screenplay and all our copious notes.”
James Mangold knows his shit. And he wants you to look at it. He wants you look at his shit. He’s got references in every color!
Earlier this year, the “Walk the Line” and “Knight and Day” director took to Twitter to help educate his followers, many of whom were watching his feed in anticipation of comic book revelations. Could Mangold (“3:10 to Yuma”), a man of many genres who lacked “geek cred,” do justice to the X-Men’s most famous character? His way of giving people hope was the opposite of what anyone would have expected. There was no pandering to the source material. Instead, Mangold brought his film knowledge to the table, spelling out ten films — some widely classics, some deeper cuts — that informed or inspired “The Wolverine.”
It’s a ballsy move, one that promised a different kind of superhero movie. Many directors cite influences that disappear after going through the filtration process of big, studio filmmaking. Surprisingly, this isn’t the case for “The Wolverine,” that actually manages to wear its influences on its sleeve. On FILM.COM, we take a look at *how* the masters of the past seeped into one of the summer’s best blockbusters.
I can never understate how important this is. If you want to make films, if you want to write films, you have to watch films.
Also, is Mangold a Bond name or what?
Now, where is that beautiful trailer?
Apparently, it’s breathtaking.
Everything I had previously read about Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty had me believing that the film was going to be a broad comedy…
But watching the premiere footage from the film today during 20th Century Fox’s presentation of CinemaCon I discovered that not only is the movie more of a dramedy, it looks like it could be a film that everyone is talking about during Oscar season. Mixing both light and dark tones and featuring some absolutely beautiful cinematography, the The Secret Life of Walter Mitty reel is the best thing I’ve seen so far at the week-long Vegas convention, and the movie is now cemented on my must-see list for the rest of 2013.
There are exceptions, but for me, music makes cinema. Here’s a video exploring how several legendary directors use music in their films. This is a short episode of Auteur Theories, that doesn’t go too far into depth with any of them, but offers a brief survey. The lack of Tarantino may be disturbing to some, but I couldn’t find a place for him in this video. I might make a short of the same length exploring Tarantino’s amazing musical predilections alone. That said, my favorite musical moment in cinema is not featured in this video. It is the opening minutes of Terrance Malick’s The New World. —Auteur Theories: Of Song and Cinema
- “Wheel of Fortune” by Kay Starr LA Confidential (ALL of the music, really)
- “500 Miles” in Benny & Joon
- “White Rabbit” Jefferson Airplane from Sopranos S01xE07 (Watch)
- “Angel” by Massive Attack from Burn Notice S07E07