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CHOICE A or CHOICE B?


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#1 Keneu Luca

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 04:31 AM

I didnt want to hijack the JUNO IS LAME thread, even though its probably too late. So I started a new thread to continue the discussion that grew out of that thread.

Heres the thread:
http://www.cinematog...showtopic=28350

And heres what I have to add:

You have been chosen to direct a film based on your favorite book. You've read this book a million times as a child and you always wished you'd have the chance to direct it as a film. You never thought youd be able to because you have absolutely no money. But a producer who has seen some of your work wants you for the job. This producer has acquired the sole rights to make this book into a film, and you know this will be the only time this book wil ever be adapted into a film. This is a one shot deal.

The producer already has the 35mm film equipment and stock. More than enough. Post production facilities and distribution is not a concern - its all locked.

But here's the catch. The producer's budget is limited. And he has waaaaay too much pride to get money elsewhere, which means he'd have to share producer credit and he's not about to let that happen. He has $1 million left. Two differnt ways to sepnd it:

CHOICE A

Producer knows an excellent team of Writes/Actors who intimately KNOW this book and have inspiring ideas on how to adpat the book and the actors know the characters so well because theyv spent half their life acting out scenes from the book, living and breathing these characters. And these guys know how to perform. Actually no. Scratch that. They know how to BEHAVE. How to behave just as natural and as candid as we human beings are behind closed doors when we are all alone. Their fee is $1 million.

CHOICE B

Producer knows a team of DP/Camera Ops/Gaffers that are so brilliant and innovative, Vilmos Zsigmond and Vittorio Storaro once conspired to have this crew blown up in a car bombing. The jealousy was eating them alive. This crew can do things with light that will make you reconsider your Faith. Guess what...$1 mill.

THE TRADE-OFFS

The producer will look to a community college for the choice you do not make. Hes got his eyes on a student DP who knows how to get proper exposure, but lights everything even and flat. Producer also knows a guy that can write the script, but his scens are predictable, long and drawn out, dialogue is painfully on the nose. The actors....well, yeah, they can rehearse their lines, and each of them have seen INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO a thousand times. You know this because it says so on their resumes.

So...whats more important to you?

Edited by Keneu Luca, 18 January 2008 - 04:34 AM.

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#2 Ruairi Robinson

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 04:56 AM

I didnt want to hijack the JUNO IS LAME thread, even though its probably too late. So I started a new thread to continue the discussion that grew out of that thread.

Heres the thread:
http://www.cinematog...showtopic=28350

And heres what I have to add:

You have been chosen to direct a film based on your favorite book. You've read this book a million times as a child and you always wished you'd have the chance to direct it as a film. You never thought youd be able to because you have absolutely no money. But a producer who has seen some of your work wants you for the job. This producer has acquired the sole rights to make this book into a film, and you know this will be the only time this book wil ever be adapted into a film. This is a one shot deal.

The producer already has the 35mm film equipment and stock. More than enough. Post production facilities and distribution is not a concern - its all locked.

But here's the catch. The producer's budget is limited. And he has waaaaay too much pride to get money elsewhere, which means he'd have to share producer credit and he's not about to let that happen. He has $1 million left. Two differnt ways to sepnd it:

CHOICE A

Producer knows an excellent team of Writes/Actors who intimately KNOW this book and have inspiring ideas on how to adpat the book and the actors know the characters so well because theyv spent half their life acting out scenes from the book, living and breathing these characters. And these guys know how to perform. Actually no. Scratch that. They know how to BEHAVE. How to behave just as natural and as candid as we human beings are behind closed doors when we are all alone. Their fee is $1 million.

CHOICE B

Producer knows a team of DP/Camera Ops/Gaffers that are so brilliant and innovative, Vilmos Zsigmond and Vittorio Storaro once conspired to have this crew blown up in a car bombing. The jealousy was eating them alive. This crew can do things with light that will make you reconsider your Faith. Guess what...$1 mill.

THE TRADE-OFFS

The producer will look to a community college for the choice you do not make. Hes got his eyes on a student DP who knows how to get proper exposure, but lights everything even and flat. Producer also knows a guy that can write the script, but his scens are predictable, long and drawn out, dialogue is painfully on the nose. The actors....well, yeah, they can rehearse their lines, and each of them have seen INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO a thousand times. You know this because it says so on their resumes.

So...whats more important to you?


If the script is good enough, it will attract all the money and talent you will need.

So script first, then key talent, AKA name actors. If you get those in place, the rest will be much much easier.
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#3 Keneu Luca

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 05:58 AM

If the script is good enough, it will attract all the money and talent you will need.


That is not always true. For many reasons.

Depends on how much exposure the script gets.
"Good enough" means different things to different people.
Plenty of "good enough" scripts become low-budget movies.
A "good enough" script may be brilliant, but considered too risky for some people to participate in because of a risk (or insecurity) that it may play to a very narrow audience. Or be too...well...different.
A script may be set in motion but the appropriate talent may be unavailable to be a part of it.
The script may be brilliant, but the person who is in charge of it may not be.

In other words, the political nature of the art can easily negate the simple notion that a good enough script will attract money and talent by default.

Also, this idea does not apply to the scenario I described.

So script first, then key talent, AKA name actors. If you get those in place, the rest will be much much easier.


Not everyone wants name talent. Plenty of instances where this happens.

"Name" actors is a business concept. It has nothing to do with choosing the actor who will bring the most honesty, truth, and humanity to the role.

Edited by Keneu Luca, 18 January 2008 - 05:59 AM.

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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 08:09 AM

Personally I'd look for a good Dp and editor. . . in theory, the director would be able to elicit good performances from his/her actors and the simplest of stories can become poignant and beautiful if covered in such a way as to make it so (Diving Bell and the Butterfly, for example has a main character who cannot move! Yet the film is still amazing, visually, and granted, well written, but the point still stands, I think that visual beaty can add more weight to an otherwise ordinary story).
And of course a brilliant editor to help keep the story moving when/if the actor fail is VERY useful.

Then again, I'm partial and neither option is ideal.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 11:34 AM

You have to start with a solid script and then a decent cast, unless this is a movie that is not dependent on a strong writing and acting for some odd reason!


If the script and acting are lame, who cares if Zsigmond or Storaro photographed it?

That said, the choices aren't necessarily realistic -- the best writers, actors, or cinematographers are not necessarily the most expensive. A good producer would first work on getting a good script within his limited script budget and once he has that, look for financing so that he can cast it well and hire a good team to make it, again, within whatever budget he has.

Generally you don't plot out the shooting budget or do any casting without a script.
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#6 Paul Bruening

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 11:53 AM

He did say that his producer has a lock on it and has way too much pride to get spare money. That's a pickle. IM me. You may want to consider something I have.
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#7 Ruairi Robinson

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 12:04 PM

That is not always true. For many reasons.

Depends on how much exposure the script gets.
"Good enough" means different things to different people.
Plenty of "good enough" scripts become low-budget movies.
A "good enough" script may be brilliant, but considered too risky for some people to participate in because of a risk (or insecurity) that it may play to a very narrow audience. Or be too...well...different.
A script may be set in motion but the appropriate talent may be unavailable to be a part of it.
The script may be brilliant, but the person who is in charge of it may not be.

In other words, the political nature of the art can easily negate the simple notion that a good enough script will attract money and talent by default.

Also, this idea does not apply to the scenario I described.



Not everyone wants name talent. Plenty of instances where this happens.

"Name" actors is a business concept. It has nothing to do with choosing the actor who will bring the most honesty, truth, and humanity to the role.


Take a look at what I said again, because you seem to have chosen to misinterpret it. And I thought I was being crystal clear. Sheesh/

"If the script is good enough, it will attract all the money and talent you will need."

if the script is good enough, then it's good enough, no matter how much you dance around what different people think is good, GOOD ENOUGH means it attracts the talent you NEED. If you don't need stars, then that's not an issue, is it? if it's a low budget movie, then attracting massive investment isn't a problem, is it?

Good enough may mean different things to different people, but in terms of getting a movie made, the meaning is pretty clear. It means "good enough". If you are talking about a story that is NOT attracting the talent it NEEDS, then it's not good enough.

Some of the best scripts I've ever read have remained unproduced, but they did attract talent. whether the pieces all fell in place for the movies to get made is another matter altogether. Walon Green's Crusade script is superb, but will never, ever get made. But it was certainly good enough to attract studio interest, and talent etc. etc. etc. It's not the filmmakers fault that the studio fell apart before the movie got made!

Recently I read a great western script called "The Brigands of Rattleborge" by Craig S. Zahler. It topped the black list (a shortlist of most popular scripts among agents and producers in hollywood) and deservedly so. Big directors have circled it, and Tom Cruise was interested in starring in it. I have no idea of it's status now, but it was certainly "good enough" to attract talent. If it never gets made, for whatever reason, it's not because it's not good...!

R.
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#8 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 03:47 PM

I occasionally hear of scripts that take 5 to 10 years to get made. I don't necessarily believe each one went through 10 years worth of rewrites either. So the script was good enough to be made but the other elements did not fall into place in a timely manner.

So, as the pieces slowly come together, suddenly a key player has a new gig coming up and either they have to be replaced or the the project gets puts on hiatus. By the time that person is available again the odds are somebody else won't be available.

So the quality of the script does not automatically generate it's own creation.

I would choose the core group that can perform the script as good as possible and build from there.
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#9 Eldon Stevens

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 01:27 AM

I see that I'm late to the DP Kobayashi Maru.

Despite my high level of respect for the cinematographer's craft, this choice is a foregone conclusion. I'd have to go with A.
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#10 Benjamin Cameron

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 12:06 AM

kobayashi maru is right.
with all due respect to all the other posts, here's a point: buster keaton never worked with a script for his independent features. needless to say, some of these are among the greatest works of cinema. so maybe this is just a wild exception, but it also raises an interesting question: do you even need a script ?

i am also aware of other "scriptless" movies (inland empire) that are dubious at best, so it really is a hard one.
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#11 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 01:32 AM

What in the Hell are you talking about??!! :blink: Your choices are a lousy crew and great cast or a great crew and a lousy cast?!! :huh: You kinda see how NEITHER one of those choices will work?! What you do is take 650K hire a GOOD cast with one or two GREAT actors and 450K hire a PROFESSIONAL crew with a very good cinematographer. THEN you're gonna end up with a GOOD movie instead of a BEAUTIFULLY lit piece of crap that no one pays any attention to or a brilliantly acted piece of crap where the audience can't concentrate on the performances because the actor's faces either can't be seen or look like some kind of a bad horror movie. It is NEVER an A or B choice, it's an A AND B choice ALWAYS! That's why MANY times producers can't afford their FIRST choice and have to go with someone else. B)
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 01:37 AM

here's a point: buster keaton never worked with a script for his independent features.


Not exactly true - Keaton put a lot of effort into writing the scenario for "The General", as well as many of his features, which he felt could not just be a string of gags as his short films could. There may have not been a traditional shooting script, and Keaton would work out a lot of the physical gags on the set (and play baseball with the crew until some solutions came into his head), but they were all working from a story that was developed by Keaton and his co-writers. His shorts though were a little more loosely structured, story-wise.

My wife has been writing a series of essays on Keaton's crew members, including his gag writers, so I'll have to ask her about it tomorrow... (she's asleep).
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#13 Benjamin Cameron

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 11:51 AM

David, thanks for clarifying what i meant, not that keaton didn't have any structural plan, but just that he didn't work from a script as we would know one. i have read that large amounts of his sequences were generated as he went, and when he got roped into MGM, he was saddled with gag writers and a script-writing system that was totally different than what he had worked with before.
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#14 Keneu Luca

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 04:47 PM

What in the Hell are you talking about??!! :blink:


I'm talking about a hypothetical. And judging from many of the responses here, a few people either didn't realize this, or ignored it. The nature of many hypotheticals are often improbable (not that I think my hypothetical here is all that improbable). But they force you to consider the value of the presented options because they are put into a context. A hypothetical creates a sitiuation in which a choice must be made, rather than just an ongoing debate as to which choice is better.

A man must save the life of his one and only young son, or a person who has the cure for cancer. It's an improbable situation, but it puts the issues into a context and forces you to actually make a choice, not just debate.

So, what in the Hell am I talking about? Im talking about a hypothetical.


Your choices are a lousy crew and great cast or a great crew and a lousy cast?!! :huh:


Lousy but competent. In both respects. Yes. Those are the choices.

You kinda see how NEITHER one of those choices will work?!



No, I don't. Perhaps you can elaborate on what you mean by "work"?


What you do is take 650K hire a GOOD cast with one or two GREAT actors and 450K hire a PROFESSIONAL crew with a very good cinematographer.


This breaks the situation of the hypothetical, thereby making the decision easier. It is meant to be a difficult decision. That's the point.


THEN you're gonna end up with a GOOD movie instead of a BEAUTIFULLY lit piece of crap that no one pays any attention to or a brilliantly acted piece of crap where the audience can't concentrate on the performances because the actor's faces either can't be seen or look like some kind of a bad horror movie.



No, the actor's faces will be seen. As I stated in the hypothetical, the DP knows how to get proper exposure, but lights everything even and flat. A bad horror movie? Well thats a whole new can of worms - what makes it a bad horror movie? Are you referencing an actual horror movie that had properly exposed flat and even cinematography? If so which one?

Edited by Keneu Luca, 29 January 2008 - 04:49 PM.

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#15 Matthew Buick

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 05:37 PM

I would pick A. I'd choose the fine cast who could live and breath their roles. I'd then do the cinematography myself, treating the whole film like on of my Super 8 movies, shooting available light as often as I possible can, perhaps hiring a DP such as Stuart Brereton or David Mullen to help draw up lighting plans I could follow at a later date. If myt cast could breathe their roles I'd let them set the tone for the scene. I'd just shout action and cut.
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#16 Zamir Merali

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 07:33 PM

I think the real point of this thread is that it is time for the writers strike to end. Everybody has way too much time.
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#17 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 01:50 AM

I'm talking about a hypothetical. And judging from many of the responses here, a few people either didn't realize this, or ignored it. The nature of many hypotheticals are often improbable (not that I think my hypothetical here is all that improbable). But they force you to consider the value of the presented options because they are put into a context. A hypothetical creates a sitiuation in which a choice must be made, rather than just an ongoing debate as to which choice is better.

A man must save the life of his one and only young son, or a person who has the cure for cancer. It's an improbable situation, but it puts the issues into a context and forces you to actually make a choice, not just debate.

So, what in the Hell am I talking about? Im talking about a hypothetical.




Lousy but competent. In both respects. Yes. Those are the choices.



No, I don't. Perhaps you can elaborate on what you mean by "work"?



This breaks the situation of the hypothetical, thereby making the decision easier. It is meant to be a difficult decision. That's the point.




No, the actor's faces will be seen. As I stated in the hypothetical, the DP knows how to get proper exposure, but lights everything even and flat. A bad horror movie? Well thats a whole new can of worms - what makes it a bad horror movie? Are you referencing an actual horror movie that had properly exposed flat and even cinematography? If so which one?


No, there is no point to this discussion, THAT'S the point. It's like asking if you cut a baby in half which half would you rather take to the the family reunion? The whole premise of sure a question is absurd and not worth debating because it does nothing to further cinematic knowledge, clarify issues or create worthwhile debate. It simply asks which is more important acting or lighting which is roughly the equivalent of which is more important air or water. You can't live without either one which, incidentally, is what "work" means, your body won't "work" without air and your body won't "work" without water as a movie won't "work" without good acting nor will it 'work" without light. I think I take exception to this because you're trying to divide an art into priorities that is by it's very nature, completely interdependent on all it's elements. Remove the smallest element from a great picture and the picture is less for it. The lighting, sound, composition, editing, acting, direction, music, script, continuity, production design, SFX, stunt work, choreography, costuming and camera movement ALL come together to make the sum of the parts greater than the whole. Remove any single one of these, make any one mediocre, and the whole suffers. Suddenly it's not the same movie. So again, what the hell are you talking about?
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#18 Chris Keth

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 02:22 AM

No, there is no point to this discussion, THAT'S the point. It's like asking if you cut a baby in half which half would you rather take to the the family reunion?


I'd rather take the upper half so you're not changing diapers all day. ;)

But seriously. Stupid thing to even talk about because it won't work either way. On a budget, you have to find a happy medium to spend the budget dollars on.
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#19 Keneu Luca

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 03:51 AM

As I stated in the first post of this thread, this topic came from the "Juno is lame" thread. Other people in that thread began this debate. Not me. I simply provided a hypothetical for it.

I understand the frustration that a hypothetical can cause. I too don't enjoy answering a hypothetical most of the time.

So, yeah, some people were able to participate in this hypothetical. Others think it's a waste of time. That's cool. I respect that.
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#20 John Allen

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 10:35 AM

I don't like the fact that the movie "Juno" is almost saying that it's ok for kids to have pre-marital sex, I mean the dad was actaully joking about it. I think if kids see this than there going think it's ok to have underage sex and then all they have to do is put the kid up for adoption, and think, "boy that was easy". For one; a girl's life will be messed up. Number two; the baby's life will be messed up 'cause the kid will most likely never know his real mother. What kind of message is that? :blink: However, I do like that it had somewhat of a pro-life message. Anyway, I think the movie is a dumb movie.

If people want to see a much better made movie, watch "Bella". It's a great film.
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