Sunday, February 23, 2014

Better Days Part 4: Tedium as Medium

In the week leading up to the shoot, many of my friends commented on how exciting they thought a making a movie must be. Perhaps. If you have never been on a film set, I can see why one might think it's exciting. There are lights. There are boom mikes. There are cameras. There are people everywhere. There are people doing lots of little jobs.

Actors sit in their places for hours, it seems. They'll run through lines, they'll talk about life, they are people at work. But they seem to sit and sit and sit and sit. Meanwhile, an assistant director yells this command or that command and waits for a reply. There is the sound guy doing his thing. There's the camera crew doing what they do. There's the director who looks on at the actors and does what a director should do. The shot gets framed, it gets frames again and then again. We do a wide shot, a medium shot and a close shot and then we do it again from another angle, and then from another angle. It's what we do.

Film is a tedious process. The medium itself warrants this sort of tedium. It can be no other way. To tell a story on film you want the biggest impact from the script, from the actors, from the scene. It has to be done again and again and again. The real magic, in all reality, happens in the editing room. If you want to compare this process to a piece of 'film' without this process, compare the best movie you've seen this year with any fucking trite piece of shit reality TV that goes on morning noon and night on nearly every channel on your TV. Believe me, the tedium of setting up a shot, the shooting of a shot and the editing of a shot is well worth the end product. I would think the shooting of reality TV is probably pretty exciting and the lack of art in it creates a tedium for the viewer. Anything you see on reality TV you've seen over and over again since MTVs Real World.

To avoid the tedium of this, I'll leave you with an anecdote: On the last night of the shoot, Gio and his crew were setting up a jib shot. This is a cumbersome, time consuming process. I was at the craft service table talking with Aeon and Andrew. I asked: “How's this going for you?” I asked because these two actors have much more experience than I have. They've been on all sorts of sets. That, and I really valued anything either of them had to say. Andrew laughed. He said, “This is going smooth. Going pretty quick.” I was dumbfounded. This was not what I thought. I thought it was dragging on and on. I mean, we were spending hours on a scene that becomes a minute or two. “Really?” I said. I looked from him to Aeon. She nodded in agreement to Andrew. Andrew, “You guys are running with two or three takes on average, it's moving.” I agreed with him. It did go quickly, in retrospect. It went quickly because Gio and his crew were very diligent when setting up a shot. The actors, especially Aeon and Andrew were chemically disposed to the screenplay. They were well rehearsed with their lines. A professional cast and crew with good direction will made for a smoother production.

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