The Director Directs

Tomorrow may, or may not, wrap up filming for the short film I've been producing with The Company. Last weekend was derailed by a tooth extraction  that was in no way exacerbated by our director's recent flirtation with cigarettes. Don't smoke kids— cigarette smoke eats molars.

* * * * *

I've served as cinematographer for this outing, which is a fancy way of saying I've held a relatively heavy camera for very long periods of time while draping myself over cubicle walls or pressing my body into stucco corners. The Director fancies the exceedingly long takes. When I say long I mean takes so long that they potentially border on the uncomfortable for the audience. Relentless monotony isn't the objective of every take, but used sparingly, it may prove to be a very effective way of conveying the indistinct personality of the lead character. 

I must confess that I find it odd to serve as a conduit for someone else's vision on this project. I've spent so many years working alone on my artwork that it has required some readjustment on my part to not be the peanut gallery every time I hear the word, "Cut." 

At the same time I find it strangely liberating to not be the person controlling the final vision. I power up the equipment, check the settings, point and shoot. In some ways it is akin to my relationship with pinhole photography— I can't really control the outcome so faith is the only confidence I can hold. In this instance my faith rests with my friends, with the script, and with the actors. 

* * * * *

My wife has often pointed out that film is a communal art form. It is inclusive because it is impossible to realize alone, and perhaps this contributes subtly to the magic film works over our culture. We must labor together to create it, and then we choose to sit in a darkened theater for two hours and share in the viewing experience with a broader public. Stories are projected onto a screen so that they might add another perspective, another sorrow, another joy to the chronicle of our own lives. Story telling may be one of the few constants in the history of mankind and the moving image shows no sign of relinquishing its century-long domination of our narrative landscape. 

In two hundred years art history texts aren't going to be extolling our contemporary painters with nearly the same vigor that they'll be studying the cultural relevance of James Cameron or the cut-and-paste narratives of Quentin Tarantino. 

Knowing this has made me seriously consider the frequency with which I should be putting down the gesso to pick up the video camera.

No comments: