Dec 13, 2021

DECEMBER, 2021 

LANG, GODARD, AND BRESSON: 3 APPROACHES TO SHOOTING

I took this photo after I finished writing 24 Frames Lalla and my room was a complete mess. 

24 Frames Lalla is a 30 page short film. It will be shot Feb 2022 and will be a 9 day shoot. I wrote the screenplay between June 2020-November 2021. The film is about a suicidal artist who makes a film alone during the Covid-19 lockdown.

There's an amazing interview on the criterion channel between Fritz Lang and Jean Luc Godard. In the interview you learn that Lang has a very preplanned approach to shooting that sounds similar to how Hitchcock worked.  Lang knows exactly how he will shoot the scene before he walks onto the location. Godard, on the other hand, doesn’t know how he will shoot the scene at all. He figures it out once he's on set. 

In the interview, Lang is very concerned and asks Godard why he does this. Godard points out that he doesn’t work with studio sets and often sees a location on the day he arrives to shoot. There isn’t a designer to build him a office. He has to find the office and the space informs the shot. Whereas for Lang, the shot informs the location.

Robert Bresson is a mix of the two. Robert Bresson storyboards, plans his shots, but he still insists on creating the shot once he arrives to the location because for Bresson he wants the shot to be created in the moment so that the audience is watching a creation unfold.

"It's not that I haven’t thought about the film. I already have made a storyboard. A plan on paper. I shut myself up all alone to do this, and in my mind, I make the film. After that, I leave the storyboard aside. I don’t look at it again and I shoot the film. There’s an enormous gulf between the film as it is on paper and the real film. They’re not the same thing at all. It’s surprise how different the celluloid and paper versions are. It has to be a surprise and I want it to be total. You have to come face to face with the new. That’s very important to me novelty and nature. Not the natural. Nature. I want moments like that to create something within me. And what is created is what I want to commit to film. I always want that to be something new. I have great faith in beauty but beauty is only beauty when it is new.”

I like Bresson's passage above because it points out how you need both prep and improvisation. I think there is not one set way to make a film and that stories need different approaches but for 24 Frames Lallla my approach will be Bresson’s because that's what fits the style of the film best.

AUGUST, 2020 

HOW I CAME TO WRITE SURVIVAL OF THE HOLY FOOL

I started doing research for this film in 2016 and finished writing it in spring of 2020. There are several reasons how the story and structure came about.

-I initially became interested in writing the story because I was a gentrifier in a white working class neighborhood that had been rooted in Philadelphia for 150 years...here comes the artists. There was animosity and an under current of fear between me and my neighbors. I had a lot of guilt about that. My remedy was to research the area and learn some of the history.  I quickly discovered that among a certain group of people it was common knowledge that there were lead contaminates within and around the dead factories that were on every corner block. At one point there were 37 lead smelters fully operating in my neighborhood. I thought this had the potential to be an interesting plot line.

MAY, 2020 

STORY STRUCTURE OF SURVIVAL OF THE HOLY FOOL 

-After my film I AM THAT, I wanted to write a screenplay that had multiple storylines and was similar to Robert Altman's, Nashville or Short Cuts. I knew this would technically challenge my writing skills. I was looking for a story that could lend itself to an ensemble based cast.

-Characters and tones come first to me, plots come later.  I settled on the lead plot line because it gave me an umbrella plot that multiple characters could live under.  I'd be able to have large group scenes where you could see the characters interact with one another and behave in a certain public way but then I could contrast that with intimate small scenes inside the houses where you could see how the characters behave in their private moments. I watched an interview with Robert Altman about the making of Short Cuts and he talked about wanting to convey a feeling of lifting the rooftops off of houses and taking a peek inside to see what everyone is doing. I took this idea and ran with it and that's how the 5 different households on one neighborhood block idea was conceived.

MARCH, 2020

TYPES OF CHARACTERS IN SURVIVAL OF THE HOLY FOOL

-Lastly, I wanted to write two different types of characters: 1) characters that were steeped in all things physically and emotionally material, for example, addiction, debt, fear, loneliness, resentment, anxiety, power, etc. 2) And then I wanted to write one character who was the opposite of all that. She would be fully rooted in the spiritual world. The Holy Fool is this character.  She was the hardest character to write. There were times I would get so frustrated that I'd cut her from the script but once she was removed I no longer wanted to direct the film.  She is the sole reason why the script took so long to write. It took me years to write her well and figure out where she was coming from. I theoretically knew why but I didn't have the skill as a writer yet. 

Overall, I love this script and it was worth every knock out it gave me.