I just received a few books in the mail: In The Blink Of An Eye by Walter Murch and On Directing Film by David Mamet. On Direction Film is a thin book, so I opened it up first. The author is a stage writer writing a book on his recent venture into film. Like myself moving from photography to documentary video, I thought his opening remarks hit the nail on the head. I quote:
“There is a wonderful book called The Profession of the Stage Director, by Georgi Tovstonogov, who writes that a director may fall into one of the deepest pits by rushing immediately to visual or pictorial solutions.”
When I read that, I thought to myself, “that’s precisely my downfall as a photographer.” The first thing I usually do is scope out the scene and look for the best ‘shot’, and maybe think a little about motion and people coming in and out of frame. Then I might consider audio, and….
He continues in his book, “This statement influenced and aided me greatly in my career as a stage director; and, subsequently, in my work as a screenwriter. If one understands what the scene means, and stages that… one will be doing one’s job for both the author and the viewer. If one rushes, first, into a pretty, or pictorial, or even descriptive staging, one may be hard-pressed to integrate that staging into the logical progression of the play.
And there he describes my common predicament: I pull all my shots right into Final Cut Pro, and have no clue what they mean. They’re all pretty. But when I look at the script, or the interview, or ambient moments, I’m hard pressed at times to stitch them together into something that means something. Because, after 10 seconds, it’s the ‘after-taste’ or impression that the viewer is left with that counts, and not so much the aesthetic of a particular single shot (though ultimately the interplay of visual and audio are what makes the magic happen).
Anyway, this is looking to be a great book. I enjoy books most when I’m in the middle of an intense project…