Archive for category directing

Film terms and movie speak

It is almost as if there is a whole other language when it comes to the film and movie business. There are an awful lot of film terms and film terminology that seem designed to keep out all but the most persistent cine-phile and wannabe artist who dreams of someday directing a film themselves.

Granted, there are many industries who operate under the own arcane gobbledegook. ‘Management speak’ is often touted as an example of language gone loopy. Movies, however, are a very public affair and if you have the slightest interest in getting under that glossy and glamorous sheen to see how they are really made, then you will soon come across some very mystical incantations which will befuddle your brain and murk your mind. Reading like something out of “The Lord of the Rings” are words, phrases, job titles and techniques from “Gaffers to gobos, dollies to doughnuts, apple-boxes and Auteurs.” Were you aware that if you are at all interested in looking through the camera then, one day, you may have to put your face against a “teddy bear’s asshole”? I’ll leave you to find that one out for yourself.

Anyone getting to grips with film terms and movie terminology should be rewarded with a certificate of achievement and a badge. If you have ambitions to study film technique, make films yourself or just appreciate the art and craft of movie making, then at some point you will begin to encounter these obscure and esoteric nuggets of mouthery that are found nowhere else. They are mysterious and strange and, like some ancient Masonic code, designed to act as a barrier to those who are merely curious and of the fair-weather variety.

To the committed seeker though, they represent the first layer of initiation into the movie world. They are the first test of worthiness which you must conquer before those who have travelled before you will even consider looking down upon you and letting you fetch them a cup of coffee.

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Jack Nicholson – On Film Directing

Jack Nicholson:

I tried to utilize whatever professionalism I found myself surrounded by and tried to get people who weren’t going to be frightened. On ‘Drive, He Said’, I had an organised crew and the organized crews that I’ve worked with are really trying to imitate the other crews that I used to work with – the so called disorganized crews. That really means that they had less people working. Every crew is disorganized to a certain degree.
Every movie has a totally different set of circumstances and problems, you know: how do you get the doughnuts from the Grand Canyon Motel down into the gorge and keep the generator running at the same time? It was very much a learning experience. My theory on it was that I didn’t know anything about it to start. I related to somebody who was a professional in their job. I would say, “I don’t really know anything about this, so If I go overboard or if I start bullshitting you in some way, just let me know. I won’t be nervous about it. Just tell me, you know, and I would like to learn because it’s not the only movie I’m going to do.” They were always helpful.

In other words, if you did nothing, the movie would get shot. If you want to sleep all day, the technicians would go on. They have their own style. It’s really how much you affect their style as opposed to vice versa.

From “Directing The Film – Film Directors on Their Art“,
Eric Sherman, 1976, Acrobat books, Los Angeles.

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Takeshi Kitano – On Film Directing.

(’Beat’) Takeshi Kitano:

“On my first film, the crew simply didn’t trust me…I remember arriving on the set the first day and asking the cameraman to set up the first shot. He looked at me warily and asked, “Why do you want to shoot it like that? Why don’t you start with an establishing shot?”

I told him that it was a matter of intuition, that I didn’t feel I needed an establishing shot in that scene. But that didn’t suit him. He insisted that I should give my reasons. I could tell that the whole crew was just as wary as he was. He had another idea in mind, and I had to fight him for an hour before winning the point. It was a very important shot – in fact, it ended up on the cutting-room floor – but it was a matter of principle. I had to impose my credibility as a filmmaker. And that lasted throughout the shoot.”

From “Moviemakers Masterclass – Private Lessons from the World’s Foremost Directors“, Laurent Tirard, 2007, Faber &Faber, New York.

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