A Dreamer Walking

Clint Eastwood – An Observation – Faith in the Craft

Posted in Film and Filmaker Studies, Observation Series, Uncategorized by Jacob on February 6, 2011

Clint Eastwood 1I appreciate Clint Eastwood as a director just as much, if not more, then I do Martin Scorsese. I chose to take a break from Martin and look into a few interviews of Clint Eastwood. I ran across a fantastic interview of him on Charlie Rose (click HERE to see it). I would recommend anyone studying film to watch the interview.

After watching many of Clint’s films it seems very obvious he is a classic filmmaker in the sense he does not try to get too complex with the way he moves about the camera or the way he cuts and expresses sound. Back in the old days filmmakers were simple because the medium forced them to. Clint stays simple because it is the best way he expresses his stories.

For Clint’s films everything seems to be done in a very clear manner and usually the meaning of his pictures are glaring at you in broad daylight. Clint is not one to beet around the bush or have some kind of meaning hid deep inside one of his pictures. The points and meanings of his films are usually obvious. Most of Clint’s movies seem to be about relatable characters going through tense situations. He first lets us get to know and care for his characters and then takes us on a ride with them.

Clint’s “simplicity” is one of my favorite qualities of his films. The simplicity we see in Clint’s films comes from the confidence he has in himself. He has taken the term “go with your gut” to heart. This is also one of the reasons why I and many critics say that Clint’s movies have gotten better with his age. Now in his 80’s, Clint seems to be at the top of his game. He has more experience than almost anyone in film business. The farther along he goes the more he learns and his instincts become better and better.

Eastwood’s way of directing needs to be studied. He has talked often about not thinking too much about how he chooses to go about creating a shot or editing a scene. He has explained many times the filmmaker ends up talking himself out of something that would have worked best because he or she keeps on second guessing themselves. Filmmakers overwork their material to the point they ruin any magical quality that was originally there. But, before we go with our gut we need to figure out what this “gut” instinct actually is.

The term “go with your gut” can easily be misleading. I think Clint has the right to say it because he has developed his philosophy on film to a strong enough point his “gut” is a reliable source. Clint also does a good amount of research into the story he is trying to tell. His choices on how to go about shooting a shot or editing a scene are usually strong because his choices are built on strong foundations. The reason why we as filmmakers should go with our gut is because we feel in tune with our technique and the story we are wanting to tell. The more we develop our philosophies and technique on filmmaking the more reliable our first instincts will be.

One of the reasons why Clint has a simple film style is because he thinks simplicity is the best way to tell a story. Clint’s simplicity represents his confidence. He does not want us to marvel at a camera shot, he just wants us to be consumed by the story. In another interview with Charlie Rose in 2003 Clint explained his filming process like this, “I keep everything as quite and subtle as I can. At the same time punctuating the points I need to punctuate”.

Movies don’t always need quick cutting and huge sweeping camera shots. You will see hardly any of these things in Eastwood’s films. The filmmakers job is to get the story across in the best way possible. Sometimes, maybe even most of the time, we do this through avoiding complexities and just allowing the story to unfold. Clint has trust in his instincts. He has trust in his actors and crew. And, most importantly Clint has trust in the story he is telling. Because of the trust Clint has put in his medium he has become one of the great artists for his medium.

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