The money and legal stuff is taking awhile, as it always does, so there's not much to report. In the meantime, I continue to watch movies, read books, and now I'm starting to look at paintings. Some of the movies I just saw include Nashville (I appreciate Altman but don't "get" him--too emotionally detached), 400 Blows (loved it--what a devastating film), Witness (BEAUTIFUL), and I'm about to watch "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford." Both 400 Blows and Witness had great composition in the shots, something I'm really working on.
I continue to read MacKendrick's "On Directing," which is deep and difficult but helpful.
I'm already having some conversations with my production designer Jim and DP Randall. They both agree wholeheartedly with my ideas about shooting the first chunk of the film in a raw, desaturated way, with the latter part of the film more composed and colorful.
Really hope we get this money stuff taken care of ASAP, I'm eager to get going.
A Perfect Film
Published: February 12, 2008
Just read this from Roger Ebert:
"Now what do I mean when I say a film is perfect? I described Atman's "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" as perfect, that's what I mean. A perfect film is serious or funny or anything in between, but in its way it owns wisdom about life, and we learn something from it. Our attention is fully engaged by it. If we are movie critics, our notebooks rest forgotten in our hands. It is cast so well that the roles fit the actors like a second skin. It has dialogue that functions to accomplish what is needed, and nothing more; it can be poetry, prose, argument or bull----t, but we believe the characters would say it. There is not an extra or a wrong shot. The compositions make everything clear but not obvious, and they work on an emotional level even if we're not aware of it. And when it's over we know we've seen one hell of a film."
I'm going to post this wherever I can to remind me of what I'm shooting for.
Script, locations, movies, books
Published: February 6 2008
I think we're pretty much done with the script. I can't think of any more things I need to do to it; or, at least, I can't think of anything I CAN do to fix any of its needs. At some point you get to close to it and don't know what works and what doesn't. I feel like I've addressed most of the problems that my friends and advisors have pointed out, so I'm feeling pretty good. Right now the script comes in at 111 pages, which I think is too long. Page count is usually equal to minute-count. If the movie came in at exactly 111 minutes, that wouldn't be awful, but I'd prefer to get it down to 100. Just not sure how to do that at this point.
I had a good talk with a production studio in Georgia that might end up being our shooting location. Nothing has come from Virginia, and with the money we'll save shooting at one location, along with the fact that Georgia offers a 10% or so tax rebate (meaning you get 10% of all the money you spend in Georgia returned to you at the end of shooting), I'm leaning in that direction. I should be flying out there to check it out in a month or so.
Just watched "Badlands" for the first time, the Terence Malick film with Marty Sheen (I can call him Marty because I'm in the biz) and Sissy Spacek, made back in the 70's. I'm trying to watch as many great films as I can, of course, but I'm concentrating on films that have a lot of exterior locations, made by directors known for the visual brilliance. The film really was gorgeous. As I've said, I plan on shooting the first half of the film, when things are rough and raw, with a loose, rougher style, and the second half of the film more composed and pretty. I already do loose pretty well (although I'll get better), but I'm not as great at the composed, pretty stuff. It's not my tendency, but it sometimes needs to be. After watching some Wim Wenders, Kurosawa, and Terence Malick films, I feel like I'm getting better versed on the subject.
Finishing up "Our Southern Highlanders," which will help me understand the setting better, and then I'll read "On Filmmaking," by Alexander MacKendrick, which will help me shoot said setting. Hopefully.