SCREEN-L Archives

March 1996, Week 4


Options: Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
"Denis Simard (by way of Denis Simard <[log in to unmask]>)" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 21 Mar 1996 16:06:06 -0500
text/plain (83 lines)
About my query on shooting of Nanook:
Ken Nolley wrote:
>Flaherty was not alone when he shot Nanook.
>But you don't need to read background information to know that he was not
>alone; the film (as is usually the case) bears eloquent testimony to the
>method of its production. Some of the most famous action sequences are
>quite obviously shot from two camera setups; the walrus hunt comes to mind
>immediately as an obvious example. Look at the film again for the
>sequences which are constructed by intercutting between two camera
Mark Langer wrote:
>Flaherty was assisted by Bob Stewart, the Revillion agent at Port Harrison
>who is seen in the trading post sequence, and by a number of the natives
>on site, including Allakariallik who plays Nanook. He used one motion
>picture camera -- an Akeley -- and also took still photos with a Graflex.
>The equipment was maintained in part by the natives and in part
>by Flaherty.
Mike Pounds wrote:
>Obvious Flaherty wasn't alone! But his approach to filmmaking was decidedly
>primative. His background was engineering, not filmmaking so his
>expedition was not well equipped. If you read his book, imagine reading
>the subject's book as a basic part the research, he states that Nanook
>saved the film project when the camera jammed -- due to the extreme cold
>-- by taking the camera apart and repairing it.
Morgan wrote:
>Flaherty was alone, in the sense of white, proffessional assistants,
>but he utilised the the local community when and where he could. He gave
>great credence to the local population for bringing him the vast=
>of clean water he needed for developing (he developed and edited on
>site) and for generally helping out.
Rolf W. Brandis wrote:
>He brought with him 75,000 ft of film, a Haulberg electric light plant and
>projector, plus two Akeley cameras and a printing machine.
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>He shot all of the footage himself.
And Yves Lever wrote to me:
>Evidemment, Flaherty =E9tait seul, avec une seule cam=E9ra, sans aucun
>=E9clairage artificiel...
>[Translation: Obviously, Flaherty was alone, with only one camera, without
any >artificial ligths...]
So who's right? Although almost everyone gives me literature references to
sustain his point, it seems that the knowledge on this question is not quite
clear... Ken Nolley is probably the one that point out precisely the problem
that I wanted to raise by my question. Does we have to conclude that
Flaherty had two cameras (and consequently some operator with him, whether
it was native or white one) from the observation that there's a lot of
scenes which use the intercutting technique? In my point of view, I cannot
agree with him when he says that "the film (as is usually the case) bears
eloquent testimony to the method of its production", at least not as a
general rule. For example, the "shot/reverse shot" cutting between to
characters can be done either with one or two camera (tv reporters always
use just one camera for their interviews), and it's generally the same thing
with a lot of intercutting techniques. The result on the film is often the
same for a "naive eye" (like we all are most of the time), whether it has
been shot with one or two cameras. But having an extratextual knowledge on
how a scene was shot can be very revealing of the kind of strategies that
have been adopt to reach this result, and it can change the way we view this
result. This is specially true in the case of documentary productions. And
that's why I was asking myself how Flaherty shot some of Nanook scenes,
because it may really change the way I look at them. I think I'll have to
continue my inquiry on that... Anyone have any more suggestion about this?
DENIS SIMARD | [log in to unmask]
Litterature comparee | Tel: (514) 271-4136
Universite de Montreal | Fax: (514) 343-2393
To signoff SCREEN-L, e-mail [log in to unmask] and put SIGNOFF SCREEN-L
in the message. Problems? Contact [log in to unmask]