Thursday, July 26, 2007

Disagreeing With Books... or

But first this little note to myself:
A Canon FD 85 1.2L lens is worth no more than $625 'cause that's what you can get one for at Adorama. So says me.

Now onto our main subject:

Disagreeing with Books

I'm reading Judith Weston's Directing Actors because Stu Maschwitz recommends it so much. Basically I agree with it's premises. It advocates what I would call "specific, positive" direction. But I think that because she's an actor (and not, specifically, an editor) she mistakes some "acting" things for "editing" things. She talks about how Jon Travolta would tell directors that when he's making a decision on screen they can't see it now but they'll be able to see it in the editing room. And she credits it to Travolta's being "in the moment".

No no no no no! Why? Because of The Kuleshov Effect. That's why you "see" it in the editing room and not while you're doing it. It's not really there! The audience takes so much stuff from the context that in film you can be "in the moment" as much as you want, or not. It frequently doesn't matter.

Any picture editor will tell you that many of the best "decision" moments they've used were from a bit or piece at the head or tail of a take where the actor was just out-of-it or listening to the director. And the fact she'd credit how a "decision" a character makes looks on-camera to the actor's being "in the moment" is odd because she also talks about using stuff which is actually going on around you (specifically an itchy sock) -- which is of course a very different "moment". The reason it all works on film is that Kuleshov dude..

Also, she denigrates watching the monitor for performances. She thinks you should stand by the camera and watch the actors. No no no again! Why? Because the captured performance is different from the live performance. If you really want to know what the performances are like, close your eyes and just listen to the actors (actually, it's better to do this with headphones so the sound is a bit dryer than what you're hearing in the room.)

Sound. It's where the performance is.

Next time I'm going to party with what I disagree with Stu about in the DV Rebel's guide.

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