A Dreamer Walking

The Rewards of Taking Away

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on September 19, 2011

When an executive producer looks at a film and thinks it is not working usually what first comes out of his mouth is, “We need more!”. More visual effects, more duologue, more sound effect, and more cuts. It is a typical impulse for us to think our film needs something added when it isn’t working. The problem is more is not always better. Executive producers know very little about the art of film. They are usually part of the project because they want to make money. When you have a non creative person calling the shots you usually get a film packed FULL of worthlessness. Stuffing more stuff into a movie when it is not working is like telling a kid to eat more cake when he or she complains about feeling sick. In reality, if you truly feel you have a good theme for your story and it is still  not working thematically, the problem usually has more to do with things that are in the film that should be taken away.

Films don’t need nearly as many visual effects, sound effects, cutting, complex camera moves, music, or  duologue as we often think they do. Great artists know the art of taking away. Charlie Chaplin did it with many of his movies, specifically his film Modern Times (1936). In Modern Times Chaplin uses sound effects extremely selectively, only when he is trying to make a point. Because all but the essentials are taken away we as an audience are more aware of the sound we do hear. In 1993 Steven Spielberg came out with Schindler’s List. For some reason the movie was in black and white. Obviously Hollywood had converted to making their movies in color a long time before Schindler’s List, yet Spielberg felt there was a benefit to taking the color out of the film. Spielberg was also known for using the camera in many complex and playful ways, giving us vast crane shots, huge special effects sequences, and flashy cuts. Yet, in Schindler’s List Spielberg took almost all his signature film style away. He took away the steady cams, the crane shots, and the zoom lenses, to give us a more realistic feel. He simplified everything so we had a very realistic and very straight forward look at the Holocaust.

Another benefit to taking away is the emphasis that comes with putting what you took away back in. Because Spielberg gets the audience use to seeing Schindler’s List in black and white he is able to use color to really emphasize one of his key points of the film. There is one key scene in Schindler’s List where among a huge amount of destruction we see a girl with a red coat walking through the ghetto. While dozens of Jews are running around in the streets getting gunned down by German soldiers we see this girl in red walking through the city unharmed. The only color on screen was the red coat. Spielberg drew us into the movie and immediately connected us to the character because he used color so sparingly.

You can make greater statements in your film if you use the big effects, complex camera moves, and grand scale music sparingly. If you have a film full of action all the way through, none of the action will likely stick out. With each film you take the audience for a ride. You do not want to go a hundred miles per hour all the way through. Like any good roller coaster ride you need to have times of quietness and suspense in order to make the huge drops and triple loops feel more satisfying.

An important thing to understand is that many elements of cinema can just be distracting. First you need to understand the essence of your scene and then you need to know what tools to use and what tools to leave out in order to emphasis that essence. Will the scene work better with several cuts or just one master shot? Is music needed? Is even sound needed? Take out whatever needs to be taken out in order to draw the audience closer. Let the audience connect some of the dots themselves.

Pixar’s Up does a fantastic job with their beginning montage where we see Carl and Ellie go from childhood friends to an old and happily married couple. In the montage the director Pete Docter took away the dialogue and sound effects. This allowed us as the audience to give our complete attention to the music and visuals. The visuals and music gave us everything we needed. We were able to fill in the blanks. We as an audience understood their emotions without needing to know exactly what they were saying. We fall in love with Carl and Ellie in the first sequence and it sets the rest of the film up perfectly.

There is a danger in taking away. When you take something like sound, dialogue, or music away, you need to make sure you are using the other elements of cinema to perfection. In the movie Wall-E director Andrew Stanton said he knew making the main character not be able to speak English was risky, especially for a film that kids would watch. He knew he needed to put more emphasis on expressing the character Wall-E through sound and acting. They looked into all the Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin films of the silent era. They studied how these two legends expressed their story with no dialogue and usually no sound. What taking away forces you to do is be more creative. You need to figure out how to express more with less and that is always risky. And, I admit there are times where you do need all the elements of cinema to express your point. You need to walk a fine line as a filmmaker. The audience will get bored if they are always told what to think and not given the opportunity to connect the dots. However, they will leave if you don’t give them enough information to see how the story connects.

It is not good enough to just take risks. You need to know what you are doing. You need to know the rules in order to break them. Know the benefits of sound before you make the decision to take it away. Know what you can communicate with a medium shot and close up before you choose to just stick with the master shot. We have more tools then we ever have had before in cinema. We shouldn’t be afraid to use them if needed. However, with all the technology and high quality visual effects we have now I do not think you could make a movie like Steven Spielberg’s E. T. (1982) any better. I don’t think I could enhance the quality of Frank Capra’s 1939 black and white film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, with the technology we have today. There are simply times where less is more.

Turning 21!

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on January 3, 2011

(I thought I would start out the new year with a BANG! This is a paper I wrote about two months ago, when I turned 21. Sort of gives you a good idea of my journey up to this point. A bit long but I hope you ENJOY)

Turning 21!

Well I found myself wasting time looking at meaningless things online. So, instead of continuing to do that I might as well choose to listen to a suggestion from my Mom and write about turning 21. 21 is sort of age marker in many peoples lives. For me 21 means one more year of time gone. As productive as I feel at times I still do not feel productive enough. Believe it or not I already feel like I see my time on this earth counting down. I have so much I want to do and so little time to do it. Personally I think I should be making movies now, trying to bring some of the stories I have in my head and in hundreds of different notebooks, sketchbooks, computer files, and random pieces of paper, into reality for everyone to enjoy, be inspired by, and choose to act through.

I can not complain about life up to this point. I have found myself truly blessed. I have grown up in a country and with a family that has allowed me follow the burning passions which pull at my heart. Some of those passions I need to admit I have not done a good job following, some are not there anymore.

When I was young I had ambitions to become a professional baseball player. It was a game where the physical problems I had with my hips did not hinder me. To be honest I actually think it helped. since I went through the first four years of my life not being able to use my legs well and spent a couple months in casts not being able to walk at all, I was able to develop a curtain amount of patients that most kids and even adults don’t have. Even when I was young I found that I had the natural ability to keep my cool in tense situations. This helped me both with winning when I got into fights with my big (at much STRONGER) brother and doing really well while pitching in baseball. When I was twelve years old, and Little League baseball games only lasted six innings, I averaged more then 12 strikeouts a game.  During the last All-Star game I pitched in that year, I had a temperature of a hundred and two and still was able to throw a no hitter through five innings. The game was 0-1 and I was pulled for the sixth inning. The coach put his son in. We lost 5-1.

Sadly the passion I had for baseball did not translate to much action. Sure I was naturally talented and that carried me through several years. But to be honest, my older brother was much more driven to practice then I was. I had a better temper for baseball but my brother had a much greater dedication to the game. Because I lacked dedication I found myself slowly becoming average. Moving to Montana did not help my dedication, but in a sense I feel it was a blessing. Instead of doing a mediocre job perusing baseball in Montana (a state where the game is not usually taken too seriously) I chose to pursue another passion: movie making.

I do not quite know when I became really drawn to film making. I know I always enjoyed Disney movies when I was little. I especially remember watching and being effected by the movies Dumbo and Bambi when I was a small child. I was able to watch plenty of TV when I was in my casts and I always loved to watch the transforming orange on Sesame Street. The orange with sunglasses would come on screen and bounce all around and turn into boats, cars, sports wear, and household items right in front of my very eyes. It was magical and it effected me deeply.

The first theater experience I remember was with my dad. We went to the movie Star Wars. They showed it at the college where he taught at. We went into a little theater, just my older brother, my father, and me, and we saw the words “In a galaxy far far away” slowly fade onto the screen, to which I had hard time reading all the words. Then it happened, music jumped out from all the corners of the theater and I saw the words Star Wars in huge yellow font flash in front of my eyes. The rest of the role I couldn’t read but the music was doing everything for me. Then I saw a little ship flying away from the biggest battle ship I had ever seen.

The movie was thrilling. It exited me. It impacted me. And I wanted to have that experience again. I became a huge fan of movies and quickly was introduced to the films of Steven Spielberg. Immediately I became a fan of his work. We did not have much money to go to the Movie Theater often, but each time we went it was a true event, an experience like none other. I was hooked when my Grandpa brought us to the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). My mind was boggled when we were Transported into a single snowflake that revealed a grand land, a real city, inhabited by living breathing characters.

After dropping my ambitions to become a professional Baseball player I chose to pursue two other talents with the hope that they would somehow lead me into film. I pushed myself in art and story development. This time I made sure I had the dedication I had lacked in baseball. When I found that I was naturally good at drawing faces, more specifically eyes, I dedicated myself to it. I was told by one of my art teachers that the eye were the hardest thing to draw. I figured if I could master the eye I could become a better artist then those I competed against in school.

I was a competitor. Even though I was no longer really playing sports, I was going to become the best artist out there. During my sophomore and junior year of high school I treated art like my friends treated their sports. The majority of lunch times I spent working on paintings. When my friends were practicing for cross country, wrestling, or track after school I was in the art room spending a few hours working on projects. If you look at my math and science notebooks, you would see more doodles of eyes and cartoons, then actual assignments. My pursuit for art paid off in my Junior year. I entered my work in for a scholarship (that was normally reserved for Seniors only) and won one hundred and seventy dollars that I was allowed to use to buy some much needed art supplies. With the watercolors, brushes, and papers I bought with that scholarship, I created a series of paintings that have already been hung in numerous art galleries.

Sophomore year was the year I discovered extra features on DVD’s. I often went to a close by movie store and rented the DVD’s that had the most extra features. Soon I started taking notes on the extra features. I wanted to develop my own stories. I loved video games back then and decided to make my own. It was called “Mr. Waterbottle Man“. The main character was a water bottle and he fought evil fires with a endless supply of water. Then I imagined Waterbottle Man as a actual human who had a water suite. You can only imagine my frustration when I found that Mario Sunshine had stolen my idea.

However I was onto bigger and more exciting things. I used to play outside with my little brother, Caleb. We played hundreds of games through out the years and I began to develop a story out of those games that I still think will be one of the greatest stories I will ever tell. Those games however, did more then help me develop one story. They strengthened my imagination and help me figure out the key elements to making a story work. Playing outside with a few simple sticks did more to help me creatively and in my ambitions to become a filmmaker then any class I have ever taken.

As dedicated of an artist as I was, school in general was not my favorite place. Even in art class I had a hard time getting good grades because I would spend too much time working on projects that were supposed to just take a few days rather than the weeks I gave them. I didn‘t care too much about what I needed to do to get a good grade. What I cared about was making a piece of art I thought was impacting. I refused to believe my mother when she told me only one out of twenty watercolors (my art medium of choice) turns out well. I spent the extra time trying to make all my watercolors look right. Of course spending this extra time, even with going in at lunch and after class, made me always fall behind on my art assignments.

As a sophomore I was convinced I wanted to become a filmmaker, so subjects like math and science were a huge drain for me. I was never good at these two subjects and although I did try to pay attention in class, if it came down to doing a math assignment or working on a story idea or a piece of art, I always chose the latter.

I have however always had a interest in the subjects of English and history. Sadly I must admit that the teachers who often taught those classes were not too interested in me. As much as I tried to push myself in English, I seemed to be “naturally” bad at it. Most likely it was because of my dyslexia. My dyslexia effected my reading, so it took me twice as long to read a book as my fellow classmates. Also, I had no idea how to write. I tried hard, but it is hard to learn from your mistakes when you only get your assignments back at the end of the quarter. To me school seemed to be about getting assignments for the sake of having something to do, not for the sake of learning.

In history I learned a tremendous amount. I often came home talking to my mother about curtain things I found interesting in the lesson that day. I was especially interested in my American History class my junior year. My teacher really seemed to know what he was talking about. Topics like the Civil War and the Indian Wars fascinated me tremendously. I found it very interesting how this nation was built and how it wasn’t as glamorous as we would like to think. The deception, the hardships, and the breakthroughs our nation went through were all intriguing to me. I still remember my history teacher explaining the process immigrants needed to go through to get into America. It saddened me how harsh their lives seemed to be and what they needed to do just to make a living in this “free nation“.

The only problem with my history class was that my grades did not reflect the amount I learned. The major portion of my American history teacher’s grade was determined by his essay tests. I scored horribly on the tests and barley passed the class. Back then my handwriting was hardly readable and I never had enough time to get through all the questions. When my mother went in to talk to my teacher about my dyslexia problem, my teacher just said he would make the tests easier for me. Neither my mother nor me wanted an easier test. We just wanted extra time for me to finish  and someone to act as a scribe. My history teacher had a huge problem with this and told my mother that he didn’t think I had the “capacity to comprehend the important elements of a subject”.

Even though my teacher did not believe in me, from his History class I developed a passion for studying the past. I studied the history of major league baseball. I rented long documentaries from the library and began to read books on the subject. I thought the stories of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Honus Wagner, could make some great films someday. While looking for biographies on baseball players I ran across a book that would change my entire life. It had nothing to do with baseball. It was about a movie producer who made himself known through developing cartoons. The book was called Walt Disney: An American Original, by Bob Thomas.

Of course I heard of Walt Disney before, but I always let the company he created overshadow the man. I had been inspired by the Disney movies, especially the animated ones, but I never really put much thought into how those movies were made and who the visionary behind them was. When I read Bob Thomas’ book I was inspired. Every chapter gave me more depth into a visionary who seemed to be able to move mountains by his passion. I read about Walt Disney’s ups and his downs. What surprised me the most about Walt was how he was able to overcome his imperfections and struggles.

Then I began to get more interested in the movies Walt created and the people who worked for him. It amazed me how so many people were caught up in one man’s dream. I looked into Walt’s Nine Old Men, nine animators who were some of the lead creators in Disney  animation from the 1940’s through the 1970’s. All nine of these animators were extremely talented artists with completely different backgrounds. They also had completely different personalities. Studying these nine animators helped me realize one of Walt’s greatest gifts. Walt was able to bring people of completely different stature and background together to make theme parks and movies that would last, that would effect the world much longer then any one life.

My passion grew as I studied each of these artists. They gave me insight into what good filmmaking is all about and how to carry a vision to fruition. I wanted to find people today who were as passionate as Disney and his artists. This lead me on to studying the Pixar studio, where I was inspired by people like John Lasseter, Joe Ranft, Andrew Stanton, and Pete Docter. All these people have helped to define the Pixar Studio and all of them seemed to have the same foundational belief in storytelling that Walt had. At Pixar I found a place where I wanted to start my career. I found a place that would push me in my own vision as a filmmaker.

The development of my vision for film is a whole story in and of itself. It probably goes back to movies like Dumbo and Bambi. I was intrigued by those movies for more reasons then the “happily ever after” at the end. Especially when I got older, they gave me insight about the struggles in life. The Disney animated movies made me think, made me see how there is loss in life and how a person could grow from that loss.

From Dumbo and Bambi I moved to movies like Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan. These were specifically adult oriented films. In both movies I saw the good guy die at the end. It wasn’t exactly a “happily ever after”; it was a small dose of reality. I needed to realize the fact that sacrifice is frequently needed when fighting for something you believe in. I began to realize the true power of sacrifice through film. I began to realize that you do not usually see the beauty in things until they are taken away. I began to establish sacrifice and loss in the stories I was creating. I can say now, in almost every story I have developed there is loss and sacrifice. I firmly believe that those two things help us truly see the good in this world.

At quite a young age, probably much younger then I should have been allowed to watch this film, I watched the movie which has impacted me more than any other through out the years. The movie was Schindler’s List. I must admit the first time I watched the movie I did not understand all of it. I just watched a story about several different characters all trying to survive a brutal time. I remember not thinking very highly of the main character Schindler at the beginning of the story. I remember feeling sad for all the Jews that were forced out of their homes and made to work for people who made fun and even persecuted them. When the Germans raided the Ghetto I was horrified. I could not believe what I was seeing on screen. I had seen nothing like it before. I found no entertainment in it. I did not understand at first why someone would show such horrific things: of Jews being brutally killed for no other reason then for being Jews.

If the movie just stopped there I probably would have been extremely disappointed and even  traumatized by the inhumanity of it all. But the movie did not stop there. I watched one man Oskar Schindler, give everything to save hundreds of Jews. At the end Schindler changed. The change I witnessed deeply effected me. The end of that film was the most powerful thing I have ever seen in film. When Schindler was leaving the hundreds of Jews he had saved, Schindler broke down crying. He told the Jews he could have saved more. I could not believe it. This was a man who we literally see save hundreds of people, and he was crying out for those he let slip away. It made me see how great an impact such a imperfect man could make. I thought if he was crying out because he could have saved more, I should at least try to do something for people who I knew were in a worse situation than myself.

I decided I was going to start to create the kind of art and the kind of stories that brought up tough issues. There was going to be a meaning behind what I did that impacted people for the greater good. This was when I began to truly own my faith in God. I began to realize my passion in film and art was a gift from God and was not be to taken lightly. I began to realize I had a duty to develop and bring into reality the many stories I had in my head.

My paintings began to be oriented toward those in need, towards problems I saw on this earth. I worked on paintings which brought up the issue of poverty and starvation. I began to develop stories that concentrated on the pains of addiction and loss. However, my work was not about giving into those problems and pains. I wanted my paintings and my stories to be a beckoning for others to stand up and fight for this world.

At age 21 I am only beginning to realize the power of the gift I have been given. I, more then ever, want to develop stories and bring up issues that could make a difference for those in need. At the age of 21 I know the clock is ticking away. I know my passions will not come to fruition without hard work and study.

In my 21 years of life I have gone through many struggles. Some of the struggles were brought on by the world some of the struggles brought on by myself. There are always distractions from my dream. It is always easier to give up and listen to the people who have never believed in me and expect me to fail. I can only imagine what I have ahead of me. There is so much I do not understand. One could easily call many of my ambitions naive and impractical.

I think many people my age still act like they have a lot more life to live and can worry about their ambitions and passions in a few years or so.

It is hard to imagine I could even get into a position where I am creating a story I have developed. It is not like I don’t understand how hard it is to bring about a vision. I have studied Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg, and each one of their visions were greeted by a endless amount of doubts and obstacles.

I guess what gives me hope is people like Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg were somehow able to fight through the endless supplies of doubts and obstacles. Somehow, as impractical as their visions were, both Steven and Walt were able to make their dreams turn into realities. What seemed to give them strength is the same thing I believe gives me strength. They had a reason for believing in the impossible. With every voice I have had turning me down, I have had one lifting me up. In the most impractical places I have had people that believed in me. In 8th grade I had a math and science teacher who for what ever reason gave me respect. He made me feel as though I meant something. He was the teacher who taught me in the two subjects I hated the most, but he still looked at me as though I had something to offer this world. Let me tell you right now, people like that make a difference.

My family, specifically my mother, has always been at my side pushing me to succeed. I never had the mother who babied me, I never was greeted with false love. It was always genuine, meant for one purpose and that was to get me stronger in order for me to fulfill my dreams. Both my mother and father allowed me to walk the path I felt called to walk. They have always stood by my side and encouraged me, even threw the uncommon routs I have taken toward my dream. I have four siblings who love me dearly and never let me get away with mediocre.  The bottom line is I have a reason for why I want to do what I want to do. I see every day the people and things which keep me walking out my dream.

At 21 I find myself to be a very blessed man. Even though I am conscious that I only have a limited time left, it does not stop me from appreciating the present. I will try my best to follow my vision. I can not complain about how it has turned out so far. Through the doubts and the obstacles there will always be the goal. My true ambition in life is to follow that goal no matter where it takes me.

The Character INTRODUCTION!!!

Posted in Personal Philosophy by Jacob on August 27, 2010

Unlike real life (as you can see above), the introduction of a character in film is very important. I just watched a commentary on the Pixar movie Ratatouille where Brad Bird went into detail on what he was thinking through out the film making process of Ratatouille. I have come across very few who are as good at explaining their process and philosophy on film making as Brad Bird. In the Ratatouille commentary Brad emphasized the importance of introducing a Character. It is a art that seems to have been lost with this generation of filmmakers.

Every main character in Ratatouille has a very unique and telling way of being introduced. The main Character Remy, a rat obsessed about becoming a cook, is introduced to us crashing through a window with a cook book in his hands. This introduction is very telling of who Remy is as a Character. The breaking of glass represents the kayos that is going on in Remy’s life, the book represents his passion for cooking, the two are together because they are directly related to each other, the kayos Remy finds himself in is because of his weird obsession on fine cooking. There is also Emile who is Remy’s brother, he is a very soft spoken rat who will eat absolutely anything, naturally he is introduced to the audience sitting down in a very relaxed position eating garbage. Skinner the villain of the picture is introduced so we can see only his hat hovering over the counter like a shark before it attacks.

I look at some of my favorite movies of all time, such as Schindler’s List and I see some very clever introductions that express exactly who the characters are. With Oskar Schindler we are introduced through him getting ready to go to an expensive dinner, immediately we can tell that he wants to look richer then he really is, he scrambles to find the money he will need for the dinner, very prudently he puts on his cloths and the last thing he puts is his small Nazi badge, telling us who his allegiance is with. We do not hear Schindler speak before we know exactly what he is about. Within the first five minutes of meeting Schindler we see his eye for woman, his way with handling money to get what he wants, and his hospitable charm he uses to gain reconnection.

You can look at many of Steven Spielberg’s movies and see his genius with introducing his characters. Whether it is Indiana Jones and his very stylized intro where we hear the hero theme and we have a extreme close up revealing our hero’s face or the subtle into of Tom Hanks’ character John Miller in Saving Private Ryan, where we see a bunch of solders getting ready to storm Omaha Beach and we are introduced to the shaking hand of John Miller looking just like the rest of the people he is with, trying to throw off the idea that he is a “hero” and making him just a solder like the rest of the people he is with. You can tell that Steven puts thought in what we see first and how it represents who the character is as a whole.

A good filmmaker will take the extra time to find the perfect way to introduce a character to the audience. The first impression means a lot, we build opinions right away, the filmmaker needs to make sure they are the right opinions. I am not saying that we should always have huge introductions, they can often be very subtle you do not want to consciously draw attention. The question you want to ask yourself is, am I expressing who this character is?

Film Mediums: Live Action!

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 11, 2010

Live Action is the most common film medium in film business.  In this day in age almost anyone with ambition can make a good quality film. The tools used to make film is getting more and more affordable, the knowledge in what is needed to make a good quality film is becoming more and more accessible.

With live action you are allowed many different takes from many different angles on any given scene. Unlike both 2D and CG animation, it does not take a vast amount of time to do just one second of motion. Everything is done in real time on the spot, which allows the actor to explore different ways to execute his or her performance. All the angles and shots are not planed out in pre-production.  On the spot inspiration is a huge bonus for live action film. You are allowed to see all the things around you and enhance your performance through those things.

The director of the film is allowed to see the big picture more clearly.  With 2D and CG animation you are given curtain aspects of any given scene individually. You go to one department to look at the acting in a shot and then go to entirely different department to see the landscapes and lighting for a shot. With Live action you are allowed to see everything at the same time, the performance, the setting, the lighting, and so on. The time it takes to do a live action film compared to a CG or a 2D film, is often cut in half. You are allowed to see the big picture much more quickly and it is not nearly as hard to make changes with live action as it is for animation.

One great aspect of live action is the individual performances that you are allowed to clearly see on screen. In both types of animation mediums you can not possibly create a main characters individual performance by yourself. It takes many people working together to act out a character such as Woody from Pixar’s Toy Story or Beast from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. In live action one person often carries out the entire performance of a character, because of this the public often create “stars” from actors that have accomplished great performance after great performance, such as Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts. More weight is often put  on one performer to make or break a movie.

With live action film, chemistry between actors is key. Each actor uses the things and people around him or her to enhance his or her performance. There is a famous saying about acting, “acting is reacting”, and there is no better medium to see this applied in then live action. The immediate reaction an actor can get in live action, can not be completely copied in any other medium of film. The performance is entirely built on the interaction with the surroundings around you. Steven Spielberg talked about trying  not to have much of a rehearsal time with his actors because he wanted his actors to give a sort of “in the moment” performance. There is a such thing as over working a routine where the natural flaws of an action disappear and the performance looks a little too mechanical. Usually a good actor has a good idea on what he or she would like to accomplish in a scene and an idea on how he or she is planning on going about executing his or her performance. However, all this planning can not be set in stone for it will change based on who you are acting with. An actor is only as good as the person he or she is performing with.

Post-production is a very important part in live action film. With animation you have a very clear idea on how you are going to cut the picture before any final footage comes to the table. However, with live action film you are allowed to be a little more loose with cutting, you have the ability to shoot many different takes from many different angles. Because it is so easy to shoot the film, you are allowed more options when the footage gets to the cutting room floor. It is the editor that has control of an actors performance. Although the actor has done his own characters performance, there is a vast amount of footage of the performance to choose from. If a actor is on screen for 20 minutes  all together in the final film, it is likely that there has been several hundred hours of footage shot of the actor. In these hundreds of hours, there no doubt has been some bad takes where the performance was not to it’s highest degree.  Thus, the performance is often based on the good judgment of the director and editor.

Live action film is a medium that has flourished for more then a century. From the silent days where a actor with a false mustache made us laugh  through his vast skill in physical humor to modern days where actors like Tom Hanks and Russel Crowe have shown us how life like and impacting a performance can be. An actor is allowed to be put in a position where they do not need to imagine anymore, where the costumes, props, and sets truly feel real. Live Action film is a medium that will last through the ages, because it shows us a reality that no other medium can.

(This is a scene where I think the surrounding had a vital impact on the performance. Because everything was right in front the actor Liam Neeson, he was able to create a performance that touches the core of my heart. My hope is that animation will one day be able to do the same)

(Here are the links to the rest of the posts for this series, Film Mediums, 2D Animation, and CG Animation)

The Connection

Posted in Personal Philosophy by Jacob on April 29, 2010

In many commentaries I listen to I hear the director often say something like, “I wanted to make sure I wasn’t being preachy to the audience”. Most film directors realize that being preachy to the audience is a sure way to have people walk out before the film is done. I am a big fan about not being “preachy” in any movie I make.

Before you can communicate your ideas to the audience without being preachy, you need to be able to build a relationship. We as the audience need to know the characters before we are willing to listen to them.

The relationship in a film is key to having your point come across. Take an example from the movie Schindler’s List. Schindler’s List is a Steven Spielberg movie about the Holocaust. In this movie Steven did not just throw us into the brutality of the Holocaust, he first built a relationship with the audience. We first got to know the main Character Schindler. Schindler was not a man who had a relationship with the Jewish people at the beginning of the movie. The movie was first about getting to know Schindler, then we began to see a relationship build between Schindler and the Jews. We were able to get to know the Jews through Schindler. The story was about the relationship Schindler builds with the Jews, the more we got to know the Jews, through Schindler, the more we felt for their loses. The evil of the Holocaust began to mean something to the audience because we now had a relationship with the Jews.

The reason to why the big battle is often at the end of the movie, is because we need to first have reason to care for the battle. The reason we care for the battle, the final football game, or the concert at the end of the film, is because we have gotten to know the characters that are in those events and are now rooting for them to succeed.

The more you let the audience get to know your characters the more we will care for what they have to say.