Sunday, February 25, 2007

I've Got Issues

I'm torn between feeling like there isn't enough in this piece, and like I might be trying to put too much into it. The problem I had with my first project this quarter was that I tried to put too much into it; I couldn't just let what was be, and because of that it ended up being a little cluttered, the "message" mixed.

In retrospect I don't know what I could have cut because the way I see it all flow now, I can't imagine it without any of the pieces. That's not to say that I think they should all be there, or that they're all necessary, only that at this point I don't see a way of cutting any of it. The shots flow together too well for any of them to be cut at this point. WHICH MEANS that if I'd simplified things at the story stage, I would have been able to keep my shots more focused at the shooting stage, and my edits more streamlined at the editing stage.

So with all of that in mind, that I find myself confronting those same tendencies again. Part of me feels like there isn't enough to carry a five-minute film, the other part of me says, "It's not what you say, it's how you say it." And I'm torn because I don't want to put all of my effort into something vacuous, but then by being afraid of that I may end up just making it unnecessarily complex.

I think what I need to do is ask myself what exactly I'm trying to communicate with this piece, and then structure everything around that. I know that sounds really simple, but it's really not. And as much an aphorism as that may be, it's also a truism. But like all truisms it can't just be applied to a situation, it has to be internalized so that then it will grow out of one.

The Specific Problem:

The problem is that there is really one crucial moment in the film--I've mentioned it before--it is the fulcrum about which the ENTIRE short swings. Which means that really, it should be the climax. Everything that follows is denoument. But it being a short film, there isn't enough before the climax to justify a "traditional" denoument.

DENOUMENT: The denoument in this should only be a denoument in the sense that it is the action that follows the climactic action. It need not resolve things. Nore need it end things. In fact, the denoument in this ought to imply that what will be occuring later is even more horrific than what occured before. This will be where we reveal the truly monstrous impassivity of the One character's conscience, and the herd mentality induced passivity of the Second character.

Should this end with the Second character looking at the One character? Should it go futher to have the Second character look back ahead? I definitely like that better than the first option. Or should it go all the way and have them turn the car out of frame and leave the camera to linger on the blurry alleyway, with the immobile body drowning in the light? I'm more inclined to end it on the two guys. We haven't left the car yet, so why should we? And isn't seeing the body out of focus in the background enough? Or do we need to linger on it? However, the car driving out of frame provides a greater feeling of resolution--or, if not resolution, at least more of an feeling of finality: "they will go on, we will not" is what that says. Is that appropriate to the film?... You know, it might really be the most appropriate...But in terms of ambiguity it still leaves something to be desired...Can a compromise be reached, an ending that maintains a certain level of ambiguity (although it just occurred to me that there is quite a lot already that is ambiguous) while still letting the car drive out of the shot?

I suppose, really, that I can film it all in one shot, and cut it earlier if need be...But then won't that undermine the finality of the cut if I end up cutting earlier? "If it's not intentional, then it's not art"?

CLIMAX: This really stretches out over several beats; there isn't any one moment that can be defined as THE climactic moment. 1) There is the knock on the window that shatters the stillness of the brooding character. 2) There is the whispered exchange and the writing on the (presumed photograph) that follows (audio in background). 3) The out-off-focus beating in the background behind the head of the character in the car--this is the shot that really establishes the different nature of the character.

BUILD UP: This is the toughest part, the part that I haven't worked out yet. This is especially problematic since I really don't see how this will carry through the better part of the film. Really, this about 2/3s of the film. Maybe 1/2. It also depends upon the length requirement for this project. I suppose I ought to just start writing and see how this turns out. But right now there is: 1) The cigarette; 2) The person; 3) The photo; 4) The car; 5) Questions: Why is he staring at the photograph? What emotion is he restraining? Why is he sitting in a car? Why is the car a piece of shit? *What is the metaphor that the cigarette represents or what does it come to respresent? Etc. These are all questions that need to be addressed, or need to appear as if they're being addressed.

I need to plot these out and start writing.

Just watched: Miller's Crossing--I'd forgotten how fucking amazing that movie is. And oddly enough, a really good object of admiration.

Point isn't that these guys are definitively bad guys, that their actions are evil regardless of "who" they really are ==> see the missed opportunity of Pullo's murder of Cicero in Rome. What was wrong with that?

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