Ah the crew, that wonderful, necessary band of heroes who actually gets the job done, the movie made. I love acting….film, stage, television….all of it ……since the age of three, when I danced on stage as a butterfly and got my wings caught in the scenery, but I suppose my favorite is film. The crew is your audience and they are right there and you know in your gut if you have “got” them or not. Generally most of them will not be open in their approval or disapproval, it’s not their job and they are too professional or afraid, to show any real feeling regarding your performance. But oh, the thrill when you know you have moved them somehow. And trust me, you do know. A theatre audience can give back the same feeling, but they are generally ‘down there’ and you are ‘up here’, there is a distance and sometimes it’s only laughter we can experience as feedback…..because it is an extrovert emotion. Those inner feelings, sadness, tears are harder for the actor to receive as a response. Television is good, but the pace is so fast and the crew is often bored going through the mechanical motions of a story being told over and over again, on a pre-lit set. It’s more of a job…cant blame them, it’s just the way it is.
There are some wonderful Directors of Photography nominated for an Oscar this year…no time to talk about them all. After the Director, the DP is probably the most important person on set.
But I watched Roger Deakins …nominated for SICARIO this year, talking about the work, the art. He said he’s not sure if the technology isn’t taking over, my usual bugbear. As it is for actors, you create your best work with your gut, not your head. He described a scene he shot for BARTON FINK, in the corridor of the hotel, where they shot the scene with fire all around, all real flames all around… no digital, with him running up and down with the camera!
I have watched DP’s come up with the most amazing creative answers to challenging shots. The answer is always prep/prep then tailor the scene to the time and the money and often it is the DP who will come up with the answer, when the Director is anxious to get his great look and the Producers haven’t a clue. Terrific Oscar nominated DP’s this year, all great hands on shooters: Ed Lachman CAROL, beautiful, period, moody, Robert Richardson THE HATEFUL EIGHT, his scenic shots in the first part of the film will take your breath away, then we move inside for rest of the movie, but it still is wonderful. The extraordinary John Seale, nominated for MAD MAX – FURY ROAD, heavens know what kind of physical feats he had to perform to get the extraordinary shots in the film and he ‘aint no chicken!! And of course Emmanuel Lubezki and the amazing REVENANT….stunning scenery, grueling, demanding location work and long, long takes (an actors dream I would like to add)…brilliant all of them and there are so many other working DP’s creating beautiful pictures to stun us. I have worked with a few…Douglas Slocombe (on the left 100 years old! Think he didn’t love the job?), Nic Roeg, Alex Thomson.. the list goes on and I will be for ever grateful. And I will never forget dear Brendan Stafford (DANGERMAN, THE PRISONER) who said: “no stand ins for close-ups …you want to look beautiful, don’t you?”!!!
More about amazing crew soon, Sound, Grips, Art Directors, Wardrobe, Makeup… the list goes on!!! Love them all.
If you’re still reading….last word…I promise…been watching the BBC’s new WAR AND PEACE and am enjoying it. Paul Dano is outstanding as Pierre, very moving, the lighting is extraordinary, very pale and the locations are breathtaking….good stuff.