Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chand Rai is my recent aspirant and student who travelled all the way from Gelephu, Bhutan to learn and experience Screenwriting. And he’s going to host a few programs in his hometown in Bhutan early next year. Screenwriting Academy – ScreenWrite.In is spreading its mission to a wider spectrum.

Chand has been a keen student; at the same his ‘theme’ has been quite definite and unique. The script he finished here, titled 'Nu Ten', sounded really touching, at the same time promising for an international film, which Chand plans to direct himself.

I’m writing this for Chand, and many like Chand who show interest to compare the roles of writer and director one has to switch, when it comes to actualizing a dream to make a film. Chand wanted to know the nitty-gritties of direction as I look at it; may be, he wanted to get a writer’s perspective to directing a film.

Ingmar Bergman had commented: "If you don't have something to say, don't make a film." A director has to have a concept, some driving passion, as a writer has to have a theme or a premise for his story and screenplay. Once you have that ‘theme, premise or concept’, the director puts in his efforts to communicate that concept to other people in the most effective way.

As a Writer most of the time you communicate to yourself, assessing the pros and cons creating conflicts and drama, the Director’s job is being an artist, part of it's being a ‘general’--organizing the troops--and part of it is being a ‘communicator’, so that the other creative people can do their best work within your 'concept'. The other part is being a ‘psychiatrist’--in particular, working with actors. And that is not said in a teasing way, because acting is an emotional tool, and you have to have some sense of the person who's doing it and what they have to contribute to their character in order to get the performance you want out of them.

It's crucial to choose what you say to each person very carefully. Your job as a director is to keep the whole integrated concept moving forward.

Locations and Art Director

A most important choice for any Director is have an idea about the locations one is going to utilize for the cinematographic shoot. As a Writer one may have had a vision about the locale but as Director one has to blend the locale with the pragmatism of the Cinematographic shoot. The Director, unlike the Writer, has to know the location for the Camera Lenses more than just seeing it in his mind’s eye. The location has to be really conducive to generate the emotion underlying the story’s world and the director has to identify it to himself first.

The importance of casting well holds not just for actors, but for all the other key people as well: the Art Director, the Cinematographer, the Costume Designer and the Production Controller etcetera.

While shooting Guna (Tamil) there is this crucial scene when Roshini (Abhirami for Guna) tries to escape the remote, dilapidated church on top of the hill in the forest, Guna hides in the junky bathroom exterior and chases her. And the Art Director had worked the junky bathroom perfect to the core.

But when the scene was staged the Director - Santhana Bharathi thought, "It's absolutely wrong to play it there. It should be outside the church and way beyond, for the curiosity to sustain." Then Bharathi realized that there was no place for Guna to hide, and if he can't hide, the whole scene is down the drain--it was a suspense moment. The Director was walking around the set thinking, "Where the hell do I hide this man?"

Then the Art Director pointed at the junky car Guna had brought his Abhirami and a little dark corner--which the Director hadn't asked the Art Director to supply--so you could keep Guna inside the car and you don't see that man hiding until you're right at the door. The Director never asked for it. It was wonderful. The Art Director has to give you little surprises and eccentricities beyond what you've worked out on the floor plan. The Director and his Prime Crew have to have that kind of rapport, and it's essential. That’s one way to look at it. The other side is, had the Director known the location well in advance, this problem wouldn’t have cropped up at all.

On Using Camera Movement . . . to be continued


Post a Comment