The shorcomings of a film

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Michael Slowe
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by Michael Slowe »

Both Ned and Tim have been kind enough to refer to the way that interviewees are featured in many of my films and I will attempt to describe the methods employed in order to get what I want.

Firstly, I deplore the scenario of an 'interviewer' sitting in shot and asking questions of the subject. This is designed to get the very worst performance, unless the subject happens to be a professional performer or public figure. What I try to do is get my subject relaxed by discussing the project some days before filming starts, get them used to seeing the camera and explain roughly what I am aiming for. Then I either attach a radio mic to them somewhere or, if I'm not going to be moving the camera, fix a wired mic somewhere near the subject out of camera shot if possible. I then place the camera some distance away so as not to intimidate and use a longer focal length setting so as to get the framing I want. This can unfortunately minimise the chance of getting a nice 'bokeh' to the shot but the advantages outweigh that issue.

With the camera running I then discuss with the interviewee the subject, get them thoroughly relaxed and from those discussions come the answers that are required for the production. I never include my own voice so have to be careful that the required information is revealed without any specific questions being put, certainly not included in the film anyway. The subject may realise that we are live or they may not, I don't often draw their attention to this.

There we have it (as the Archduke famously exclaimed to the young Mozart in that fabulous film Amadeus).
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TimStannard
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by TimStannard »

All that work certainly pays off, Michael. Your interviews have a very distinct style. Your subjects appear to be relaxed and just chatting, socially about whatever the topic is. Your films reveal much about the interviewee - indeed they are frequently more about the personalities behind whatever the subject is rather than the subject itself.

Fortunately for the rest of us, not all films require that. Sometimes we just want an "expert" explanation or description of a process, or historical occurrence in which case the personality of the interviewee is irrelevant (and indeed a strong personality could even detract from the message of the film). These, of course, would be films about "things" or "processes" or perhaps historical figures - the danger is these can easily become "illustrated lectures" with little or no soul.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it
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Dave Watterson
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by Dave Watterson »

Michael refers to one of my favourite lines from 'Amadeus':

"My dear, young man, don't take it too hard. Your work is ingenious.
It's quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that's all.
Cut a few and it will be perfect."

It is a sentiment that can be adapted to many amateur movies too!
ned c
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by ned c »

My apologies for the delayed response to this interesting thread; events here have required a lot of my time.

Thanks for the positive and helpful comments. I started the thread as a means of discussing style rather than content; the traditional, three point lighting; subject talks to camera or slightly off camera versus a free wheeling hand held selfie phone interview. I have learnt along the way; most of the interviews I shoot are as a "hired gun" rather than as a part of a personal film project; however I take Michael's approach; prepare/prepare as one I can recommend to the directors I shoot for; the results certainly deliver.

Many thanks
ned c
Michael Slowe
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by Michael Slowe »

Too right Dave, point taken!!
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Howard-Smith
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by Howard-Smith »

In response to a comment made by Tim earlier, the director whose name you couldn’t remember who doesn’t like to rehearse is probably William Friedkin. In the excellent documentary “Friedkin Uncut”, he says, “Rehearsal is for sissies. What I’m after is spontaneity.” I’m of the same opinion and keep rehearsals to a minimum, preferring to start filming ASAP to capture fresh and spontaneous performances.
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TimStannard
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by TimStannard »

Howard-Smith wrote: Tue Nov 02, 2021 4:19 pm In response to a comment made by Tim earlier, the director whose name you couldn’t remember who doesn’t like to rehearse is probably William Friedkin. In the excellent documentary “Friedkin Uncut”, he says, “Rehearsal is for sissies. What I’m after is spontaneity.” I’m of the same opinion and keep rehearsals to a minimum, preferring to start filming ASAP to capture fresh and spontaneous performances.
I think it's horses for courses. If you had a stunt scene, I'd imagine you'd want that rehearsed to within an inch of it's life.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it
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John Simpson
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by John Simpson »

[Thanks for the positive and helpful comments. I started the thread as a means of discussing style rather than content
That's funny I thought I started the thread!

It takes quite a bit of confidence to show a film to others even more so to enter it into competitions. Many people want to produce something perfect from their point of view before showing it to others. Of course their/our idea of perfection is limited, and in a philosophical way the concept of perfection does not exist at all. But if we think of the film maker as an artist different principles apply and it could be seen that whatever the film maker produces is as it should be. The limitations of the film maker and the medium are all part of the art form.
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