Friday, 17 April 2009

If they follow you...

"Well, first of all, screenwriting isn't really writing: it's really part of the oral tradition and it has a lot more to do with the day your uncle went hunting and the dog went crazy and the bird got away than it does with literature. One of the indispensable ways of of judging whether an idea will work as a film story is oral presentation - you have to tell your story to someone. 

When you first get an idea, maybe its five minutes long, then the more you tell it, the more you elaborate on it and the longer it grows. When the story gets up to about forty-five minutes in length and is still holding your listener's attention, so that you know that if you walk out of the room they'll follow you to ask what happens next, then you know you have something that will probably work on screen."

Paul Schrader (writer; Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Affliction) taken from Schrader On Schrader published by Faber and Faber. 

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

If only it were that simple

"All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun"
Jean Luc Godard 

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Possibly, maybe...

"Since the Old Testament there haven't been any new stories. Everything that has ever happened is written down in the Old Testament. Starting with the holocaust and fratricide to incest, everything has happened before. So what I don't understand is why we always want to invent new stories because we keep repeating these old stories in our lives every day."

Bela Tarr (taken from Sources of Inspiration published by SOURCES)

Sunday, 12 April 2009

A woman and Chabrol

"A woman confronting men is a proper subject, it is inexhaustible."
Claude Chabrol

Friday, 10 April 2009

From conversation to story

I overheard a woman say to another woman: "I didn't want him coming in, he had blood all down his front".  I didn't hear the rest of her conversation and can only speculate as to why he had blood on him:

1) the man had been in a fight.

2) the man had been in a car accident. 

3) the man was a butcher.

The first two of these explanations are fairly obvious. The third is less obvious and could (with some thought) be the spark for an original story.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

A good script...

"With a good script, a good director can produce a masterpiece. With the same script, a mediocre director can produce a passable film. But with a bad script even a good director can't possibly make a good film. For truly cinematic expression, the camera and the microphone must be able to cross both fire and water. The script must be something that has the power to do this".

Akira Kurosawa

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Remember this....

"Everyone has their reasons."   

Jean Renoir

Saturday, 4 April 2009

A case for speed

Early in his career the director Rainer Werner Fassbinder visited Werner Herzog to ask him if he would produce his films. Herzog's response was that he should do what he did and produce his own films. So far Herzog has made over 50 films, whilst Fassbinder made 35 features and two television series  in his 15 year career. 

On average, Ingmar Bergman shot one feature film per year. He would write his script in winter and produce the film in the summer. His model for making films (working with modest budgets, a small dedicated crew, limiting locations) helped create masterpieces such as Persona and Cries and Whispers.  His technique of regular production has been copied by Michael Winterbottom who has made 16 features since 1994.

Whilst speed of production does not always yield great films, it can enable the filmmaker to work constantly at his or her craft. Filmmakers such as Hitchcock and Micheal Powell made "quota quickies"(1930's UK low budget features) in their early careers and were adamant that this was a firm grounding for their later features. 

Friday, 3 April 2009

You can get it wrong...

"Photography is a fad well nigh on its last legs, thanks largely to the bicycle craze." 

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Satyajit and the Owl

'It so happened I woke up one morning and glancing at the window behind me saw a whitish brown owl (it was more white than brown) sitting on the shutter of a window that opened on the outside. 

The owl had its eyes riveted on me. I came up to the window, looking silently at the bird - it didn't move a muscle. While I stood watching, I heard shouting from the neighbouring flats. Our house was set back from the main road, but could be seen by at least a dozen neighbours from adjoining flats. They were now calling out to the owl and making enticing noises.

My wife joined me. The reason for the excitement dawned on us both at the same time.  In Indian mythology, the owl is the mount of Lakshmi, the goddess of luck and wealth, and an owl sitting on your window must naturally arouse the neighbours' envy. 

All the shouting and crying and whistling didn't perturb the bird at all. It kept its eyes fixed on me. I took out my Leica and took a picture of the bird. The 'click' didn't bother the bird at all. The owl stayed in the same position for two whole weeks and then it was gone. Whether it moved during the night, I couldn't say, but each morning I found it in exactly the same spot - looking at me in exactly the same way. '

From My Years with Apu by Satyajit Ray (published by Faber & Faber). The Satyajit Ray Foundation

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

As you fall to sleep tonight...

The subconscious can create some very unusual and distinctive stories. As you go to sleep tonight ask yourself what is the most amazing story I can tell? The trick is not to accept the first story that comes to you, but to push to find ever stranger stories.

I've made two films using this game: Mangetout is a story about a boy who reguritates the past and Keel is a ghost story.