Independent Filmmaker

September 13, 2000 - Darbys CU bomb sequences

I had done a rough edit of Rob/Darby Duffins bomb sequence and knew that I needed some additional angles of this scene. (I knew it when I shot it up at the original office location.) Since the office partitions were returned long ago, I needed to fake an office divider behind him for a reverse angle shot. I knew I might be doing this, so I had snipped off a portion of the material that was used in the office dividers I had rents a few months back. Went to clothing store and found a chunk of material that sort've matched the look and feel of the office dividers, threw it on a wall back at my office space. Vola, one re-created office cubicle.

We shot his sequence from the opposite angle which I had originally done the master shots. I placed the camera on the "other side" of him because the monitor on his desk would've blocked his face in this angle. Why I didn't just move the monitor, I don't know. In the biz this is called "cheating" the placement of actors (or objects.)

Since we had time (a luxury item it seems with this project), I had built a fake bomb-box interior and did some point of view from the bomb shots. The few people who saw me do it thought it would be a good shot, I thought it was kinda clique. (EVERYONE puts the camera looking out through an oven, mail box or trunk of car.) Eh, I needed some more angles, so I did it anyways.

We had a few shots that needed some sound recorded along with it. A rock band was practising upstairs in this office building and was going to fuck up our recording. Johnny had run upstairs and asked them to cool it while we filmed. The band was called "The Jupiter Project" and one of it's players, Jonny Pape, had come back down with Johnny and was going to watch and wait until we finished shooting. Seeing that we now had an entire FOURTH person with us, I made the guy (Jonny Pape) work the slate for the few takes we needed him quit. LOL. Herr Indie Direktor: "Hey buddy! Shut the fuck up!! And while you're over there..can you move that light over? Thanks!" :-P

Darby & Eric

Darby in box

Jonny Pape

Box n floor


September 16, 2000 - Eric's boring dissertation on the French New Wave cinema.

Since this is a film journal, I might as well toss in some remarks about films and directors that have recently taken an influence on me. I had heard about the French New Wave in film (circa 1960) but hadn't seen any of these films. I knew that they were very influential to many other directors, but since I never went to film school and they never seem to be shown on HBO or have them at Blockbuster Video, I've never had the chance to see any of them. My girlfriend works at a library and she has access to all sorts of obscure crap, so she was able to find a VHS copy of "Breathless" by Jean-Luc Goddard and "The 400 Blows" by Francois Truffaut.

So here's how my (ignorant) mind works: Since these were French films, I thought they'd all be about humping. (I saw "The Last Tango In Paris", I liked it. French girls always wear black, fishnets and berets, so they like to hump..right?) :-P With a name like "The 400 Blows" it figured it must've been an early fetish video. I knew who Truffaut was, he was the French guy in Steven Spielbergs "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." I also knew he did those early fetish videos back in the 60's. (or so I thought)

It was amazing how shitty "Breathless" sounded and looked. I guess this was a real indie film of it's day, and it's kinda hard to see what was so original about it with our modern day eyes. Jump cuts galore, shakey camera, rambling dialogue about who slept with whom. I guess you've got to imagine your seeing it in 1960 when it came out. 60's film critic: "Jesus..what moron would use jump cuts, shakey grainy camerawork with weird dialog that didn't advance the plot?" :-)

The 400 Blows is about KIDS? Jeez! I was hopin' we would actually SEE the 400 blows to someones face, neck and head. (French boxing movie of some sort?) Apparently each "blow" is a metaphor of lost innocences to childhood. Anyhoo...the movie was good (for something that came from 1959.) I can see why Spielberg was so into Truffaut. Truffaut loved to make movies about kids. (Not dopey, Hollywood type kiddies, but kids with real-life attitudes.)

After watching these two films, I would have to agree that these guys DID do something that was advanced for it's time. (Like I said, when you watch them now, it's hard to see what was so special, EVERYONE does what they did first back then.) Therese grabbed a book on Francois Truffaut called "Truffaut on Truffaut," it's created out of quotes said by him during his lifetime. (He died in 1984.) Lemme toss off a few at you that I thought were relevant to what I've learned during filming:

The young director must not say to himself: "I'm going to try to get my foot into this redoubtable industry by making a compromise between what the producer wants and what I want, by pretending to cook up for him the comedy or detective film he expects but sticking to my own little ideas." etc., because with that reasoning you're lost in advance. You need to say to yourself: "I'm going to knock off for them something so sincere that it will be howling with truth and of a formidable force; I'm going to prove to them that truth pays off in hard cash and that my truth is the only truth." I mean, the young director must be convinced that he should not work against the producers nor against the public but that he has to convince them, bowl them over, seduce them, put them in his pocket. You have to be desperately ambitious and desperately sincere, if the enthusiasm you felt while shooting is to communicate itself in the showing and win over the public. The starting point must be the principle that any constraint you accept gets you only aridity and insipidity , whereas if you love what you film, the public too will probably love it. But isn't all that obvious?

Francois Truffaut, Arts, 1958

I believe that an idea that pleases an artist will by definition displease the public. Why? Because the artist is someone OUTSIDE society and addresses himself TO society. So what it amounts to is imposing your own originality on people and not falling in with their banality. Yes, you really have to say things as they are. It's a work on conviction, and the whole undertaking becomes a match with people.

Francois Truffaut, Tele-Cinema, no 341, October 1966

He [Jean-Loc Godard] has killed off, all by himself, the two or three worst things I know about the public: polite indifference, vague interest, amused condescension.

Francois Truffaut, L'Avant-Scene Cinema, no 70, May 1967

But I am sure we have all ended up adopting Andre Bazin's mayonnaise theory (films that "take" or don't take) because the practice of cinema has taught us a certain number of things:

It demands as much effort to make a bad film as a good one;
Our most sincere film can look like a practical joke;
The one we do most casually may end up going around the world;
An idiotic but energetic film can be better cinema that an intelligent but flabby film;

The result is rarely proportionate to the effort put into it.

Francois Truffaut, Preface, Les Films de Ma Vie

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