Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Directing: a socially acceptable form of tyranny

"But at a certain point, and I don't really know...people have asked me this. I don't know exactly what it was that pushed me towards directing, but I think it was a naive notion that if I directed I would be able to play all the roles. A kind of greed."
~ Peter Bogdanovich

I'm about half way through my film-making class now and I'm pleased to say, it's growing on me. After the first night's class, where I walked home absolutely flummoxed as to how anyone could possibly conceive of High School Musical 3 as their favourite film of ALL TIME, things have gotten a lot better. We had a DP (director of photography for those not schooled in film parlance) come in last week who was interesting, engaging, and very informative. Most of my fellow students have turned out to be fairly intelligent, and though he's Hollywood and I'm Art House, the sheer enthusiasm and just plain niceness of our instructor has been a blessing in disguise.

As part of our course, we make a film - obvious, right? What kind of film-making course would it be if we didn't make a film? We wrote the scripts and organised some actors and had our film shoot last weekend. There's so much taken for granted in the making of a film, so much that goes on behind the scenes. You're watching this explosive row or tender love scene, but you don't see the 10 people standing just behind the camera, or the boom mic literally just out of frame. The fact that film makers have their own language - I mean we all know the clich├ęs of "quiet on set!" and "cut!", but I was a bit surprised to find that the 1st AD and the director actually do say these things - there's a whole roster of crap that has to be said before the camera starts rolling or the actors start moving.

I loved directing the film. It's incredibly intimidating initially as you're given complete creative control, but you're also given a shoulder full of pressure as you want what you're watching on the monitor to look good. I also learned that you don't actually watch the actors while you're directing, you watch the monitor. Makes sense I suppose... Our amateur actors were brilliant and so patient - if this experience is in any way reflective of what being a screen actor is like in real life, I don't know why any of them enjoy doing it. Now stage acting is something else altogether, at least you get to build consistency and maintain a character over a defined period of time. But having to repeat the same scene over and over again - it's inanely robotic. It's the behind-the-scenes people on the set who get to have the most fun: the director, and the DP, and the 1st AD - they're the people who are really making the interesting decisions.

So now we're spending the next few weeks in the editing suite, putting our short film together - buffing up a little diamond. I'm completely hooked - I love the creativity, the collaboration - the fact that you get to work with a great team of people is brilliant, the pressure, everything. It's amazing. I want more.

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