Tuesday, October 03, 2006

You either have it or you don't.

That's a Woody Allen quote. I was reading this book called "Moviemakers' Master Class" the other night and Woody Allen was one of the directors that was highlighted. He was basically talking about the fact that you either are a filmmaker and you have talent or you don't. I tend to agree, though I don't feel as if I'm the one to make that assessment for my own abilities. So maybe I am, maybe I'm not. Until someone in a position of power in the industry tells me I suck and should pack it in, I'll probably keep trying. I know I'm always hyper critical of my own material and while I think I'm doing a job that's average or perhaps a bit better, I never assign superlatives to my own work or skills - I feel this is an exercise for the profoundly arrogant. I like to let the viewer make the call. Yet astonishingly, there are people at this level that like to talk about how great they and their films are and that and it always makes me want to puke.

The other thing that I took from this book was something that Martin Scorsese observed when he was reviewing films for students one year at NYU. His observation was basically that the student films, while technically well executed were all pretty flat and uninspiring. He basically felt that the reason was that the intention - the message or what they were trying to say with the film just wasn't there. While I've always felt that I'd taken a message or an emotion away from the very best films I've watched, it never really dawned on me (completely) as a filmmaker that I should try to understand what people should try to take away from my film in terms of a feeling, emotion or message. I've always sort of known that, but for some reason, it was never really cemented in my primitive brain until I read that.

Life experience does help improve the quality of a film. That was pretty much a universal theme in two of the books that I'd read on directors this weekend. The other constant theme was this notion of the script being the most important thing - it's not everything - but it is the most important element of a great film. Why? Because as Woody says, you can have a great script that's acted pretty marginally and still end up with a great movie. But a bad script with all the budget and production values in the world and best performances won't make even a decent film. Well.. Duh... How many times has that been demonstrated in the industry?

So that's why script and story are king with me.

Another draft of Heist is done. A few tweaks aside, I'm feeling good about the story, but want to send it back out for another coverage report ASAP.

Todd is in town working on some local indie stuff, so we've also begun some preliminary casting work. He's been managing the postings and we've had some responses, but I've not seen head shots yet. We want to do callbacks for some of the parts and get the people on tape to see how they are.

So here's a quote from me (though I'm sure someone else has already said it) : There is no such thing as bad acting, only bad direction. Why? Because the director is responsible for getting the performance and yelling cut/print at the end of the take. We are all actors, and there should be no reason that under the right conditions any of us could deliver a convincing performance on film. Skilled directors such as Spielberg have shown that it's possible to get a totally convincing performance from non professional actors, so why shouldn't I be able to do that? If I can't get a good performance out of someone that's not experienced, then there's only one answer - I suck as a director. An actor may not fit the role, or may not work in the part, but that's not the actor's fault. That's bad casting. So I'm convinced more than ever now that if this movie sucks it won't be because of the script, it'll be because I didn't do my job as a director, because I plan on making sure the script is pretty airtight before we shoot. I think everyone is on board with that though.

I won't be attending NHFX this year. Bit of a shame since there were a few films that I was hoping to see.

I plan on trying to enlist the help of the Nashua Chamber of Commerce in the production of Heist. I want to see if I can get some local businesses to offer help with locations and logistics support and in general just have the blessing of the town in terms of using it as a backdrop for the film.

That's it for now. Stay tuned.