Posts from November 2012

Inspiration where there is none

Jonathan Richards has an interesting post about an unsatisfactory shoot:

We were creatively dead on our feet, with little or no grip to spice things up and with empty rooms to shoot and cleaners to dodge… ‘how can I make this interesting?’.

And the answer is… ‘I’m not sure, quite honestly’.

We’ve all done these jobs. They’re invariably draining and unsatisfying, but the way I look at it is that the problem was set long before you turned up for the shoot. If the script and the plan calls for a bunch of talking-heads shots and cutaways, you’ve already lost.

If you’re lucky your interviewee will be charismatic, their story compelling, and your cutaways motivated. Much more likely: you’re shooting the same bland interview you’ve done a zillion times before, it’ll gnaw away at you all the way through the edit, and throughout you’ll know — just know — that nobody’s going to watch the result anyway.

Personally, I turn most of these jobs down. If a client is convinced that it’s what their audience needs… well, OK, but other film-makers have more patience than I do for shooting this stuff, and I’d hope they’re better at it than I am as a result.

What I’d rather do is work with a client at an earlier stage, explore what it is they’re trying to achieve, and think through some different approaches which might help meet objectives. Sometimes — often? — that does lead to talking heads, but with a really clear idea about why we’re in the room. Which leads to a completely different mood on set.

The challenge, often, lies in getting the client to recognise that every film-maker has a different approach, and hence the film they’re buying reflects their choice of crew.

That is: I try to train my clients to be producers.


“Never mistake motion for action” (Ernest Hemingway)

Spot on.



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