Filmmaker, Video Editor, Motion Graphics Designer, and Photographer in Cairo, Egypt.
Keeping notes to remember.. You may consider it some sort of Documentation.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Making Movies - The Director: The Best Job in the World

Few points I liked from Sidney Lumet's book, "Making Movies".


# There’s no right or wrong way to direct a movie.

# There are no minor decisions in moviemaking. Each decision will either contribute to a good piece of work or bring the whole movie crashing down around my head many months later.

# The first decision, of course, was whether to do the movie. I don’t analyze a script as I read it for the first time. I just sort of let it wash over me. Sometimes it happens with a book. I read Prince of the City in book form and knew I desperately wanted to make a movie of it. I also make sure that I have the time to read a script straight through. A script can have a very different feeling if reading it is interrupted, even for half an hour. The final movie will be seen uninterrupted, so why should reading the script for the first time be any different?

# There are many reasons for accepting a movie. I’m not a believer in waiting for “great” material that will produce a “masterpiece.” What’s important is that the material involve me personally on some level. And the levels will vary.

# For anyone who wants to direct but hasn’t made a first movie yet, there is no decision to make. Whatever the movie, whatever the auspices, whatever the problems, if there’s a chance to direct, take it! Period. Exclamation point! The first movie is its own justification, because it’s the first movie.

# I’ve been talking about why I decided to do a particular movie. Now comes the most important decision I have to make: What is this movie about? I’m not talking about plot, although in certain very good melodramas the plot is all they’re about. And that’s not bad. A good, rousing, scary story can be a hell of a lot of fun. But what is it about emotionally? What is the theme of the movie, the spine, the arc? What does the movie mean to me? Personalizing the movie is very important. I’m going to be working flat out for the next six, nine, twelve months. The picture had better have some meaning to me. Otherwise, the physical labor (very hard indeed) will become twice as exhausting. The word “meaning” can spread over a very wide range.

# The question “What is this movie about?” will be asked over and over again throughout the book. For now, suffice it to say that the theme (the what of the movie) is going to determine the style (the how of the movie). The theme will decide the specifics of every selection made in all the following chapters. I work from the inside out. What the movie is about will determine how it will be cast, how it will look, how it will be edited, how it will be musically scored, how it will be mixed, how the titles will look, and, with a good studio, how it will be released. What it’s about will determine how it is to be made.

# I don’t know how to choose work that illuminates what my life is about. I don’t know what my life is about and don’t examine it. My life will define itself as I live it. The movies will define themselves as I make them. As long as the theme is something I care about at that moment, it’s enough for me to start work. Maybe work itself is what my life is about.

# Having decided, for whatever reason, to do a movie, I return to that all-encompassing, critical discussion: What is the movie about? Work can’t begin until its limits are defined, and this is the first step in that process. It becomes the riverbed into which all subsequent decisions will be channeled.

#Rightly or wrongly, I’ve chosen a theme for the movie. How do I pick the people who can help me translate it to the screen?

# But how much in charge am I? Is the movie un Film de Sidney Lumet? I’m dependent on weather, budget, what the leading lady had for breakfast, who the leading man is in love with. I’m dependent on the talents and idiosyncrasies, the moods and egos, the politics and personalities, of more than a hundred different people. And that’s just in the making of the movie. At this point I won’t even begin to discuss the studio, financing, distribution, marketing, and so on.

# So how independent am I? Like all bosses—and on set, I’m the boss —I’m the boss only up to a point. And to me that’s what’s so exciting. I’m in charge of a community that I need desperately and that needs me just as badly. That’s where the joy lies, in the shared experience. Anyone in that community can help me or hurt me. For this reason, it’s vital to have the best creative people in each department. People who can challenge you to work at your best, not in hostility but in a search for the truth.

# Tension never helps anything. Any athlete will tell you that tension is a sure way of hurting yourself.

# It’s obvious that good talents have wills of their own, and these must be respected and encouraged.

# Part of my job is to get everybody functioning at his best.