A Dreamer Walking

Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy – Screenwriters – 127 Hours

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on April 29, 2014

Danny Boyle

I am not posting this to talk about how great of a visual it is. Although I want to point out really quickly how director Danny Boyle is using the rule of thirds in the way he frames this piece. The main character Aron is placed perfectly at the right third of the frame and his eyes are at the top third of the frame which is considered the most pleasing visual placement a character could be placed. Our eyes go to him right away. The digital camera screen also represents another framing device to focus us.

The reason for posting this image is to talk about how brilliant of a writing device Aron’s digital camera was for telling the story of 127 Hours (2010). For those who don’t know 127 Hours is a movie based on a true story about Aron Ralston who got his arm wedged between two rocks in the Utah Canyons. Most of the movie takes place with just Aron trying to get out of the nasty situation he found himself in. This kind of situation sounds very un-cinematic really and would be a hard sell for a studio to finance. The only reason Danny Boyle and writer Simon Beaufoy were able to get the financing is because they had both just earned a huge box office an Oscars for their last movie Slumdog Millionaire (2008). This movie could have easily have become boring in a hurry. Most of it revolves around just one character who is stuck in one place. Audiences usually rely on changing environments and character interactions to boost their interest. Danny Boyle and his crew needed to find a way to keep this situation interesting and let us know what is going on inside Aron’s head. Where in most situations the audience can get a clue about the psyche of a character through how he or she interacts with other characters Aron is by himself. Thus in comes the digital camera.

The digital camera is actually an item the real Aron had when he got stuck. The writers Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy were able to see some of the videos Aron had shot from his time stuck in the canyon. However, Boyle and Beaufoy were less interested in re-shooting exact footage of what Aron shot and more interested in using the digital camera as a tool to tell their story. During the movie Aron begins to turn on the camera periodically to give updates of his situation. We are first exposed to Aron’s more practical side. He explains how he has tried to get out, how his body is feeling, and how much water he has left. After a time Aron begins to go inward. He begins to talk about how stupid he was to not leave a note for where he was going. He begins to explore the idea he might not get out alive and uses the camera to express some of his regrets and say his final goodbyes. By doing this we get inside Aron’s head and are able to track his arc. The more malnourished Aron gets the more vulnerable he is with the audience. When he is giving his updates Aron is staring the audience directly in the face. The term used when a character does this is breaking the fourth wall. By doing this a special connection is created between the audience and Aron. The brilliant thing is the writers found a way to break the fourth wall without making us feel their main character is addressing an alternate universe like you see in most movies where they break the fourth wall – such as House of Cards and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Beaufoy said they would not be able to tell the story if they didn’t have Aron’s digital camera. The logs Aron makes serve so many different purposes. We also see the camera’s battery slowly going down suggesting there is only a limited time Aron has left. The great thing about movies like 127 Hours is it forces you to think outside the box. The goal is to allow the audience in so they can feel they are part of the Story. With Aron’s digital camera we were able to see Aron at his most vulnerable. It just goes to show working with limitations can be the inspiration for the most creative solutions.

Danny Boyle 127 Hours Links

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 3, 2011

I have been doing a pretty big study on director Danny Boyle. My favrite film of his is 127 Hours so I decided to find as many video as possible on him talking about 127 Hours and take notes. I thought I might as well share with you the ones I found most insightful. Relize, not all these videos will have Danny Boyle in them but they will all be concentrating on 127 Hours and the majority will be talking quite a bit about Danny Boyle’s directing style.

Sadly none of the video’s I watched can be posted on my site, so you will need to click on my links and go somewhere else to watch the videos. But they are well worth it.

DP/30: 127 Hours: Director Danny Boyle, writer Simon Baufoy, and producer Christian Colson: In this interview the filmmakers go deep into the storytelling process of the film. They talk about how they were able to use the limited resources they had to create a structured story that would entertain an audience for a hour and a half. They talked about what the lead actor  James Franco brought to the project. Danny talks the most in this interview. He talks about what attracted him to the story and what he learned through making the film. He especially concentrates on what he learned from working with James. The interviewer, David Poland, asks some great questions and seems determined like usual to get deep into the reasoning behind the making of the film.  The interview lasts thirty four minutes.

DP/30: 127 Hours: Director Danny Boyle, production/Costume Designer Suttirat Larlare: This is actually a good contrast to the last video. Instead of concentrating too much on the story they talk more about the art direction and production design of 127 Hours. Even thought Suttirat is a bit nervous she is able to give you a good explanation on what her job was for the film. She talks a little about how it is working with Danny, then she goes into how she visually tried to translate the story through costuming and set design. Danny talks about some of the principles he and the rest of the crew established for the film. The Interview lasts about thirty four minutes.

Making Of: 127 Hours: Writer Simon Baufoy: This is actually a great video of Simon talking about his journey into screenwriting. He also talks about the great benefit of making Aron Rolston’s true story into a drama instead of a documentary. Simon explains the difference between something being factually true and emotionally true. This is a great twelve and a half minute interview on Simon’s basic philosophy on screenwriting.

Making Of: 127 Hours: Production/Costume Designer Suttirat Larlare: Yes this is another interview with Suttirat. However she is by herself in this interview and gets to do a lot more talking. Suttirat talks quite a while about how she got into the film business and gives some useful advice for anyone else wanting to get into the business. She also expands on the problems that came with creating the main set for 127 Hours. The interview ended up being fifteen minutes long.

Making Of: 127 Hours: Directors of Photography Anthony Dan Mantle and Enrique Chediak: Oh how I wish this was longer. These guys say some good things about the visual style of the film. They talk about why it is so great to work with Danny and a little about how they used the visuals to tell the 127 Hour story. Sadly it is only a four and a half minute interview.

Direct Effect: 127 Hours: Director Danny Boyle: I believe this is a video worth watching because it covers some different aspects on Danny and his film philosophy. He talks about what he feels film is. He also talks about how it is impossible for him to judge his work and what he thinks about giving test screenings. The interview is only five and a half minutes.

First Showing: 127 Hours: Director Danny Boyle: I believe this is one of the first interviews Danny did  for the film and I believe this interview shows Danny at his most comfortable. He talks more about his philosophy on filmmaking and he seems to very much relate to the young interviewers. He talks about using two DP’s and how they rejuvenated the acting. He also expands on the importance of giving a film momentum. The interview is nineteen and a half minutes.

Obviously through some of these interviews you will hear the filmmakers repeat themselves. However, I feel they are diverse enough interviews to all be listened to and take notes on. It is actually a good thing in my opinion to hear someone say something more then once, because you begin to have the idea take shape in your head more clearly that way. I hope you enjoy the interviews as much as I did.