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March 1995, Week 2


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Richard Wohlfeiler <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 9 Mar 1995 15:09:06 CST
Richard Wohlfeiler <[log in to unmask]>
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
On Wed, 8 Mar 1995, hanemann wrote:
> ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
>    It seems curious that when a movie is being made, not the writer,
> director, actors,producers, nor anyone else on the set engages in weighty
> esoteric analysis of what's being shot. They simply take a script, (each
> with his, or her own particular talents to admix) and they shoot the
> movie.WYSIWYG.
>                          Danny H.
While it's clear that many factors of practicality determine specific
details of any film, I wonder whether the statement that a film is simply
"shot" doesn't in fact gloss over crucial intellectual and analytical
decisions that determine what is shot and how it is shot. Just because the
filmaker's orientation is to produce the movie rather than to produce a
coherent discussion on the film as a completed product (frequently one
among other cultural productions of all sorts), it does not necessarily
follow that total refusal of analytical intelligence is required. Would
it be useful to consider what kind of thought it _does_ take to shoot a
movie? Somehow the suggestion that it's a matter of turning on the
lights, positioning the actors, cranking the camera, and calling for
"action" leaves too much unsaid, I think.
A very interesting book, _Cronenberg on Cronenberg_ (ed. by Chris Rodley,
Faber & Faber, 1992), contains articulate accounts of a writer/director's
intellectual, emotional, and practical approach to making his films.
David Cronenberg's comments make it clear that film making isn't just a
matter of exposing frames, and that in fact considerable genuine critical
and self-critical thought can effect the images that finally appear on
those frames: the issues of content and how cinematic style, effects,
performances, lighting, sound, etc. shape content are not trivial or
uninteresting side issues, in my opinion.
I can understand why a particular film maker might not want to talk about
the intellectual decisions that arise in the course of making a film, but
I remain at a loss as to _why_ the question of analytically considering
those issues at all seems so highly charged, to the extent that some seem
to declare them completely out of bounds. Could someone explain what is
at stake here?
Richard Wohlfeiler