Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Daily Productivity Blog #11

Today, I took the following actions in pursuits of the cinematic storyteller's craft:

1) I worked on the edit for my friend-colleague's theatrical project. I didn't accomplish as much as I ought to have, but some is better than none.

2) My co-writer and I put in three hours' work on our feature, after being stalled on the inelegant but apparently unavoidable structure of our film's teaser. I went into idiot-savant mode and tore through our third act, looking for anything and everything that might require any kind of connective tissue in the first act. My co-writer classified my savant-isms and then we went to work analyzing them. This enabled us to do some wonderful refining to the connecting points in our 1st and 3rd acts -- which is a milestone of sorts, being at the stage we can definitively state that we're refining our outline. Of course, our second act has an enormous amount of work that needs to be done to it directly, but because so many of our refinements are about alleviating the burden on our 2nd act, our 1st/3rd act work actually sometimes doubles as indirect 2nd act work as well.

3) And I watched THE QUIET MAN, which is a phenomenal film. But I am conflicted over how Ford deals with the boxing back-story, primarily because it seems to me we should be understanding why Thornton won't fight for his wife so that we can feel his internal conflict as it reaches its boiling point. Instead, we're left on the outside for the better part of the film, observing a man who seems frustrated and conflicted, but being unable to connect with why he feels this way. Ultimately, it makes Thornton look like a cipher at best, an unsympathetic coward at worst -- until, that is, we're given his backstory. It just doesn't make any narrative logic, given Ford's storytelling preferences and presumed intentions, that he would deliberately make this film 1/2 observational "character study", 1/2 passionate romance. I don't want to kill one of my heroes, but I do think this may be a mistake. If nothing else, I think it's telling that the backstory has to be revealed on the back of the box in order to sell the film's story coherently. It's no SEARCHERS or STAGECOACH, but it's still a good film.

4) The making-of also gave me what is likely the best, simplest acting lesson I've ever been given: "[Maureen O'Hara] looks me in the eyes... [and] makes me act by making me react." -- John Wayne

Hasta manana.

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