Die Another Day - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media

The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
Let's talk about anything media related.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 2nd, 2002, 12:37 PM   #16
CUT Productions
 
Posts: n/a
Fantastic debate! I just like to add my pennorth if I may.

I broadly agree with Robert, generally those of us (myself very much included) who muse that everything's been done before don't work with the same mind as say Hitchcock. I'm sure his contempories were saying the same thing back in the fifties. But the thing is there really is no such thing as invention only innovation - you can't invent a car without recourse to the wheel. It's been said many times that there is only about 20 stories in the world and all others are variations or combinations of these - but it is how these combinations are put together that determines what you have to say and the way in which you say it.

If we take the now overused track-in while zooming out (or vice versa) first seen in Vertigo, as mentioned by Robert, I would argue it was more of a psychological visual device than a stylistic one - it was a simple yet brilliant solution to the problem of conveying a phobia key to the narrative. It was I think first copied by Spielberg in Jaws, and although of less technical directness and cleverness it did convey a sudden dawning of horror. As for all the rest who use it they only convey their need to show-off - it has become the key signifier of a director who thinks he's an auteur. It does however depress me when I hear young people refer to this device as Spielberg's!

Citizen Kane on the other hand, which was undoubtedly a great and innovative film, used techniques which were by no means entirely original. Deep focus, ceilings on sets, overlapping dialogue etc. had been used on films before - it was the combination and bold use of as many techniques which was new. It probably came about through a combination of Welles overblown ego and Greg Toland's teaching abilities.

The technique of film-noir was likewise secondhand, imported as it was along with all the German refugees before the second World War, where they had used it for the expresionist cinema of the twenties.

Finally I have to say, I think the shutter effect in Gladiator works well and literally sharpens the bloody fighting, in what is for me one of the few true pieces of cinema I have seen in recent years. However it is highly likely that a legion (excuse the pun) of lesser talents will latch on to it, until the fad wears itself out in the time honoured way of cinema:tv:film student:amateur, sometime in the next decade.

Regards.
  Reply With Quote
Old December 2nd, 2002, 02:33 PM   #17
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 1,929
Charles:

"It's REALLY hard to achieve originality in every project you do, although I think it's a great idea to strive towards this."

Exercises exempted, (to paraphrase one of my favorite mathematicians) why do something that has already been done?

And, in the Superman video, is that you operating the steadicam at 2:04?

CutandPaste:

"However it is highly likely that a legion of lesser talents will latch on to [the Ryan shutter angle effect], until the fad wears itself out in the time honoured way of cinema:tv:film student:amateur, sometime in the next decade."

Keen.
__________________
All the best,
Robert K S

Search DVinfo.net for quick answers | The best in the business: DVinfo.net sponsors
Robert Knecht Schmidt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 2nd, 2002, 03:34 PM   #18
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Jersey City, NJ
Posts: 366
I'm sorry, all this talk of film style is fine, but lets stick to the important stuff - How did Halle look? (She is the only reason I plan on seeing the film.)
Rick Spilman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 2nd, 2002, 11:48 PM   #19
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
Robert:

"Why do something that has already been done?"

Because, for me, if I were to insist on being purely original when I shoot, I might never get to turning the camera on. The economics of the industry (when applicable) dictate that if a given look/effect/approach is achievable within the time and budget granted, go ahead and be creative! If it's going to take three days instead of one to create this never-before-seen masterpiece, then it might not happen (or happen without you!)

OK, since it's in front of us, let's take that "Superman" video. I was told by the production that we had to schedule a 10 hour day plus half an hour for lunch--absolutely no overtime was budgeted. This day netted us all of the color footage in the clip (the B&W footage, a mixture of 16mm and 8mm, was shot previously on the set by NBC and partially by the director). This meant that in 10 short hours, I had to choreograph and commit to film the following:

1) That elaborate crane shot that opens the clip, plus a few other variations (the closing plus other birds-eye views)
2) The flying shots of the lead singer, which involved rigging him onto the end of a different crane than was used in 1), with the camera mounted on a mini-jib on top of the big crane
3) The "green hallway" shots, which involved lighting three hallways and rigging a ring light on the Steadicam--multiple passes with different lenses and frame rates
4) The "behind the set" hallway made of flats (not nearly enough of this super-dynamic footage made the final clip, IMHO), which had to be lit from scratch and shot with different wide lenses on Steadicam
5) The band in the three-walled orange set, various dolly moves
6) The lead singer leaning on the rusty sign with the lightbulbs, a spontaneous set-up.

Thankfully I had a fantastic crew who kicked ass, and plenty of solid pre-production, because it was literally the tightest schedule I've ever had to work within.

Why is this relevant? Well, I would have liked to have been more creative and original with nearly every aspect of the shoot, but politically the real win for me was bringing it in on time and looking good, and the director was delighted (I work as the camera operator on the series, but this was an opportunity to move up to DP while working with the same producers).

I think of it similarly to learning to play jazz sax while in high school--my teacher had me study and transcribe other sax players like Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, and while I learned how to mimic their style and could play their notes, my own improvisation had its own flavor due to all the various influences. No-one ever called me a pioneer, but they liked my playing, I think.

(and yes, that is my brief cameo in the video. A nice gesture that Zach, the director, stuck that in there. It's a stock Steadicam show-off move, something you'd never really do during a shot--perhaps familiar to those who have watched Garrett Brown perform the same move on the Steadicam JR demo tape. Zach turned the camera on me and said "do something flashy!" and I obliged...
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 3rd, 2002, 09:39 AM   #20
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 1,929
"I think of it similarly to learning to play jazz sax while in high school."

Like I said. Exercises exempted.
__________________
All the best,
Robert K S

Search DVinfo.net for quick answers | The best in the business: DVinfo.net sponsors
Robert Knecht Schmidt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4th, 2002, 01:09 AM   #21
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
Robert:

Mm...not sure I'm following you. Do you mean that my copying the greats while learning how to improvise was an exercise (thus exempted)? I think my point was more that the musical style I ended up with was hardly original, but it wasn't a carbon copy of what I had learned from others either.

Come to think of it, my grammar was a bit shoddy on that sentence you quoted. Apologies (and I'm too beat tonight to come up with a correction--but then again the online community in general is pretty forgiving of such old fashioned notions such as grammar and spelling, eh?)
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4th, 2002, 09:19 AM   #22
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 1,929
"I think my point was more that the musical style I ended up with was hardly original, but it wasn't a carbon copy of what I had learned from others either."

Like I asked of you earlier. Have you noticed that often adoption leads to adaptation?
__________________
All the best,
Robert K S

Search DVinfo.net for quick answers | The best in the business: DVinfo.net sponsors
Robert Knecht Schmidt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12th, 2002, 03:30 PM   #23
New Boot
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Pasadena, CA
Posts: 16
Cool discussion. However, I noticed some folks have argued that Ridley Scott (with DP John Mathieson and brilliant editor Pietro Scalia) did not “copy” Spielberg’s SAVING PRIVATE RYAN battle scenes (DP Janusz Kaminski, editor Michael Kahn) in GLADIATOR.

Respectfully, I just wanted to point out that the fact is, Scott did explicitly copy RYAN. Who says so? Ridley Scott. Repeatedly.

For example, when Variety film critic Todd McCarthy asked him this question about GLADIATOR: “Ridley, in this scene [the opening battle] in particular, and in all the action scenes in the film, you developed a style that I would say is a bit different than what we've seen in your other work. It is more of a kind of a jagged and rough quality to it. When you were conceiving of those action scenes, how did you approach the manner in which you shot them?”

Scott replied: “Well, you know, other filmmakers have a habit of laying down the gauntlet from time to time, and the last person to throw it down on the ground was Steven Spielberg with SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. So I studied his technique and the techniques that they used in the [photographic] process, and we nicked everything.”

(Underlines mine. You can see this interview reprinted in full on the DVDFile.com website, and elsewhere.)

Another time Scott acknowledged this was in an Entertainment Weekly article from its “Oscar 2001” coverage:

“Whether staging staggering battle scenes in the snowy forests of Germany or choreographing quick-cutting ultraviolence in the Colosseum, Scott says his goal was to pick up the gauntlet that Steven Spielberg had thrown down at the beginning of 1998's SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. “He set a new standard,” says Scott. “Battle scenes used to just be wide shots like a ballet or a dance, but now you can take the audience inside the battle like RYAN did. It's right in your lap in the theater.”

(underlines mine)

Anyway, just wanted to lay to rest this one part of the otherwise fun and enlightening debate -- Robert’s original assertion was absolutely right, as confirmed by the horse’s mouth. (I only wish the script could have been half has well executed as the visuals...!)

Glenn
Glenn Camhi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12th, 2002, 05:16 PM   #24
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 1,929
Veering off on another right angle... I have great admiration for Ridley Scott and I think he's the second most sensible commerical filmmaker of the era 1980-present after Bob Zemeckis, but I was likewise disappointed in the Academy's choice of Gladiator for Best Picture, and probably 4 of the Best Picture selections in the last 5 years have been wholly unworthy of the honor. Around the time of Titanic Kenneth Turan was my hero.

Are you 'in the biz,' Glenn?
__________________
All the best,
Robert K S

Search DVinfo.net for quick answers | The best in the business: DVinfo.net sponsors
Robert Knecht Schmidt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12th, 2002, 06:29 PM   #25
Retired DV Info Net Almunus
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Austin, TX USA
Posts: 2,882
I agree with you on that, Robert. The wonderful lighting and style in Bladerunner, Black Rain, Alien, and Legend are what first caught my eye. But he's proven since then he's a storyteller as well...and doesn't have to lean on brooding sets for visual support. I saw a "making of" film on Alien...and it's no wonder that brooding, dark style of lighting (often back lighting) was used. The sets, in normal room light, looked pretty cheesy.
__________________
John Locke
SursumFilms.com
John Locke is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 13th, 2002, 12:10 AM   #26
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 1,929
I really liked Hannibal, too--why didn't it receive an Academy Award nomination for makeup?--and I also thought Black Hawk Down was an engaging and faithful effort at a modern war film.

Remaining commercially relevant over a long career is something many of the great filmmakers do not manage. For examples look to Frank Capra (the greatest working director in the 1930s who by the mid 50s was kaput), Akira Kurosawa (whose final films only got produced on account of the sentimental generosity of his devotees Lucas and Coppola), and cult director Stanley Kubrick (whose last film was Warner Brothers' test of his box office draw before bankrolling him on the big budget fare he was begging them to make--the expensive epics Napoleon and Artificial Intelligence).

So to keep seeing profitable films from Scott (and Altman for that matter) is a blessing indeed.
__________________
All the best,
Robert K S

Search DVinfo.net for quick answers | The best in the business: DVinfo.net sponsors
Robert Knecht Schmidt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 13th, 2002, 03:35 PM   #27
New Boot
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Pasadena, CA
Posts: 16
Yeah, Robert, I'm 'in the biz' peripherally -- which of course means I'm a screenwriter! Sold my first script last year (not the first I wrote!), not yet produced, writing one now to direct (not my sole career drive at this point, but seems right for this project).

As far as movie opinions, I do marvel at how unpredictable our reactions are to movies. By which I mean, we all react so differently to the same material. I love the quote (source forgotten at the moment): "Nobody reads the same book." Applies to all art. I for one loved TITANIC, though can see why some would hate it. Other than that one, I've seriously hated all the Oscar winners of late. Often I go totally against the crowd (last year was bored stiff by SHREK and BEAUTIFUL MIND and others; loved MONSTERS INC and CAT'S MEOW) and sometimes I'm in the same boat with 'em (eg, TITANIC). Go figger. I guess no one can account for why we love or hate something. I can think someone is a moron for loving what I thought was a trite or otherwise lousy film, and the next day the reverse is true. Ah, well... yet somehow we never tire of the discussions!

BTW: spot-on about Altman. I was getting worried 'bout him the last couple years, and then he comes out with one of his all-time best last year (in my opinion, of course). Phew! (Bogdonovich is another I'm impressed with again.)

Ramblin' Glenn
Glenn Camhi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 13th, 2002, 03:50 PM   #28
Outer Circle
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Hope, BC
Posts: 7,527
Warning! Off topic.

Personally, I really liked this Bond movie. And I didn't like any of the Bond movies after Sir Connery's! Sure I noticed a few small parts that could have been better, like the second "riding the wave" scene (cartoonish), but overall, I thought it was great.
Frank Granovski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 13th, 2002, 03:53 PM   #29
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 1,929
I also enjoyed The Cat's Meow, though only nominally, yet I realize Bogdanovich made some unconvential choices (Eddie Izzard for Chaplin!) that proved to be gambles that paid off. Still, it received very limited release and was not a box office success and so I don't think it elects, a priori, Bogdanovich into the "directors who remain commercially relevant over a long time" club.

Altman. His filmography is as you say hit-and-miss, but at least one of his is in my top twenty: his adaptation of The Player is untopped in the category "movies about the movies"!

Good luck with your many irons-in-the-fires. Even if your sale doesn't get produced soon, there's reason to hold hope. I read that Meow's script Everybody Charleston! floated around for a decade before Bogdanovich picked it up.
__________________
All the best,
Robert K S

Search DVinfo.net for quick answers | The best in the business: DVinfo.net sponsors
Robert Knecht Schmidt is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:34 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network