Posted by : Prahaas Oldman Saturday, 16 February 2013
"The most excellent cinema is the one that becomes a memory"
We live our life watching the world turn from our perspective. We wake up everyday, get ready, leave for work, encounter various situations and numerous people, some of them turning out to be co-operative while the others can be termed as problems. But running away from them is not a solution for our life, in a way is a story that needs to be directed in such a way that we overcome all our problems with healthy solutions making our life look as worthy as a film. We are the directors of our own life, aren’t we?
On the other hand, if we do get a little bit restless and want to sneak in the life of others like a very fussy person, someone ,somewhere has had invented a beauty coined ‘cinema’. It provides us with the opportunity to take a peek in the story of life of various characters that are invented and directed by a person in a manner that it becomes often hard to discriminate between the flesh of reality and the thirty five mm reel of fiction. The person who accomplishes this task successfully is also termed as a ‘Director’ in the field of cinema, now whether the cinema is Italian, French, Indian or Catonese, this very person with the very same name tends to direct in order to deliver world class cinema to the audience.
Talking about world class cinema, there is a scene in the Rob Marshall directed musical ‘Nine’, where the leading man, Daniel Day Lewis who portrays the character of Guido Contini , an Italian film director is admonished by his favorite aging costume designer Lilly portrayed by Judi Dench, when she tells Guido that everybody knows that directing is a very over rated job and all that directors have to do is to say – Yes or No. And voila! The job of being a film director is accomplished.
Though this sentence by Judi Dench’s character is used in the film to provide a funny feel in her character, but it is partially true and partially false. The job of a film director is in a manner, to say Yes and No, but is obviously much more than that and on the other hand this obvious facts sleekly contradicts the fact that ‘Directing is an over rated job’. A director’s job is to direct i.e the puppeteer of the puppet show, who does says a lots of ‘Yes’ and a lots of ‘No’ but at the right place and at the right time. This combination leads to successful direction otherwise one’s fate is as same as that of Ed Wood.
Before learning about success, we must learn about failures. We must definitely become acquainted with the information about bad direction of cinema. Ofcourse, if there are good directors then there also exists a class of quite bad directors. The very simple definition of bad directors is that, they are the very individuals who said ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ at quite a few wrong times at quite a few wrong places. Thus there bad decisions led to their bad directorial ventures and they were classified as failures when it came to direction. Ed Wood was one such director, who never took care of his direction seriously and some of his shots did include the glimpses of a boom microphone lurking in the frame! Nothing more to be said in this context!
It all begins with an idea. An idea that forms in the head of a particular individual. Now this particular individual could and could not be a director. This idea, if sticks for long, proceeds forward to develop itself in a story and is penned down. The story is penned down by a story writer. It is to be noted that a director can be a story writer. Now the story writer takes the story to a long string of producers and ultimately some producer likes and shows his/her interests in the story. In this manner, after a few procedures, the story is brought. Now, the producer hires a screenplay writer in order to turn the story in a screenplay of a feature film. Another point to be noted is that, the director can also be the screenplay writer for there are many directors who pen down their own story and screenplays and direct a film based on them. The most notable examples are that of Quentin Tarantino, Lars Von Trier, Ingmar Bergman etc – the directors who write and direct. On the other hand, there are directors like Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Steven Spielberg etc who direct films that are based on stories and screenplays penned down by independent story and screenplay writers.
Now, when the screenplay is completed after a lot many rewrites that either take it towards perfection or degrade it towards failure, the producer hires the director of the screenplay friendly genre so that he/she could do justice to the screenplay.
The director dissolves himself in the screenplay, studying it to it’s very depths in such a manner that all the minor details too fail to escape his/her insight. After reading the screenplay, the director begins to visualize it according to the perspective provided by the screenplay along with his own, ultimately merging the both and moving ahead with the next process of pre-production.
Next, the director and the producer have a talk. During this talk, they talk about the cost friendly and efficient sets, a star cast that can do justice to the screenplay, a cinematographer who can play with light in the most efficient manner, an editor who is good with splits, a costume designer who can add all the satin and glimmers to the screen. After the discussion, a set designer is hired and he/she along with the director start working on the sets, making drawings and the architects construct their visualization. The set is made, while the director narrates his screenplay to the actors.
With everything finalized, the big day arrives, and the director is busy with the rehersal sessions with his/her cast. The director explains them the psychology of the characters at the moment and what action they will be performing in what manner. He/She also acts in order to demonstrate to the cast that what he actually visualizes. This leads us to believe that in order to be a director, one should definitely have a decent knowledge about acting. While the actors are preparing themselves, the director shortlists the costume and determines the depth of the make up required in the scenes. When all is explained to the costume and make up artists, the director takes a quick observation of the sets and finally starts collaborating with the cinematographer explaining him/her the shot, trying to explain the meaning of it to him/her and describing the camera angles, lights and shadows he/she desires. When all done with the cinematographer, the director faces the technical crew, i.e the light men, sound men etc and gives them precise instructions that they have to follow during the shooting. Finally the actors arrive on the set.
As the actors arrive on the set and get ready to give the shot, the director takes a quick check that whether all the technicians are in their places and the camera is set perfectly according to the shot. Any problem that is noticed in the costume or make up of the actors is corrected right away. The director asks the actors to take their assigned places and calls ‘Action’. At that very moment, the camera starts rolling and the actors start to portray their characters. If the shot goes well and fine then that’s excellent but even if it lacks a little something from the director’s perspective then the director immediately cuts in the shot and the shot portion is discarded and the camera is rolled all over again. This process is continued until and unless the director obtains the desired shot.
In the very same manner the rest of the film is filmed. During all this time, apart from the job that a director is performing, he/she has to also keep on checking the costs that the producer is paying for and has to take special care that the expenses don’t cross the forbidden line. Therefore, retakes are cut down for filming on film is costly and it is kept in mind that scenes are well rehearsed before filming.
When the filming is completed, the shots are sent for editing. There is a saying that directors should be kept away from the editing table for the shot filmed is the director’s baby and each and every shot of the filmed footage is too precious for him to edit out. Thus, many a times, the editor works alone, from a viewer’s perspective editing out the five hour long footage to a viewer friendly two and a half hour footage. This edited footage is refined, filtered, altered on the basis of sound etc by technicians and released. If the director can’t resist then a director-edited cut which is longer than the regular cut is also released after some time.
After the release of the film, the fate of the director is directly proportional to the fate of the film. The director can also win an Academy Award or even a Golden Raspberry award for his work. What ever the case might be, good or bad, a director is a director.
Anyone enthusiast enough could become a director. One can be a film school student, or one can just be a human being. All that one should have is the flair to tell the stories in a visual manner and if one has that flair, voila! You can be a director!
Guido Contini (Nine) : You kill your film several times, mostly by talking about it. A film is a dream. You kill it writing it down, you kill it with a camera; the film might come to life for a moment or two when your actors breathe life back into it - but then it dies again, buried in film cans. Mysteriously, sometimes, in the editing room, a miracle happens when you place one image next to another so that when, finally, an audience sits in the dark, if you’re lucky -- very lucky - and sometimes I’ve been lucky - the dream flickers back to life again. That’s why I’m secretive.