Monday, June 17, 2013
I'm from the old school. This is the school where you, get marks, watch a rehearsal, set up, do a first team rehearsal (stop and go), and then shoot. This still seems to be the norm in television, where time is of the essence and the understanding of time budgeting seems to be a little more evolved on a day- to -day basis. Features, lately, though, seem to work on a more catch-as catch-can basis, where no time is given to the camera crew to work out the bugs of any given shot. Our old friend Sanjay believes that this is a result of digital filmmaking, which has worn away the old discipline of rehearse-mark-rehearse-shoot. We now seem to turn the camera on and just roll, and roll around, hoping to get good pieces. I agree, and I see it more and more. Pixels are cheap, compared to film stock, and this has resulted in lowering the bar on a technical level for those of us directly related to the final outcome of any given shot. I used to lament about the editor using the one bad take out of four that had a bump or bad boom in it. Now, there's just one endless take that we extract pieces from. In a way, it's actually raising the bar. You have to be right every time, but in a different way. It's like auditioning on the first take every time and having to sight read music. I've heard this called being "reactionary," or reacting to what unfolds before you and finding the shot within it. To a certain extent, this can be fun (given that your operator trusts you). On the other hand, it's total crap. I've got to get well around six hundred pounds of dolly or four thousand pounds of Technocrane arm moving on the whims of a twenty-something actor who never does the same thing twice. My competitive nature says, "Bring it on!" and my common sense says, "You people are out of your mind." Not too long ago, I spent twelve weeks working this way on a huge movie and it made me almost ready to go back to TV. Believe it or not, the talents of the dolly grip seem to be more respected there. In the feature world of today, stuff just gets done and you either roll with it or you're replaced by someone who does. In either case it comes down to this: spending a little more prep time and getting a spectacular shot, or doing it on the fly and half-assing it. I'm not a half-ass kind of guy. It all comes down to trust. If you're doing this kind of reactionary show, you have to have the trust of your DP, Operator, and Director. WIthout it, you're gone.