Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Story-telling - best techniques are transparent

Continuing the mood of my previous blog posts, I just wanted to write this blog as these thoughts totally pre-occupied me on my drive from Mumbai to Nashik.

The subject of discussion here is film-making craft and story-telling - and how the craft should help the story-telling and not distract from it.

I saw a short film made by young enthusiasts and I felt though the short film was made with not so developed filmmaking techniques  (bad hand held camera, simplistic shots)  it was made with such purity of heart that I felt I really enjoyed it and it stayed with me.

Why did I feel that it was made with purity of heart ? Why didn't I feel any purity so in say the recent well-crafted films I saw. How can a badly crafted film show more purity than a well-crafted film by professionals ?

Somewhere when we look for refinement in story-telling techniques, we start seeing these techniques outside the context of story itself and it's likely that we stop paying attention to the central thought of the film and  gradually start betraying the film's story. For example - "wah kya camera gol gol ghoom raha hai. Wah wah".Maybe instead of thinking about the camera, the audience was supposed to feel sad for the woman's death. So these small distractions add up. Precision is important to create a transcendance with your films.

I rem a lecture in my film-making course on causal chain given by shyamal  - esp coz he gave the same lecture twice and I was bored to death. But in the process the thing that was drilled down my head was that a given scene follows another scene and leads to another scene. A very simple but profound teaching. That is there is a causal chain, and every scene is defined by what precedes it and what follows it. So I remember when I was shooting my short fiction "Reflections", there was a scene were a classmate of mine had a small role of being a barber and he is very hilarious inherently. So during the shoot, beyond the part that was written, he would do something hilarious to enhance the performance and everybody in the crew were lapping it up. And we thought we got a good take. But I asked him to give one more take where he just walks to the lead and says just what is necessary. And he was so disappointed and everyone in the crew said why we need another take esp coz we were shooting 16 mm and on a strict budget of cans. But at that point I was remembering the lecture,  and I knew the scene before and the scene after this one and a distraction of thought from emotions of the protagonist (esp for a 7 min film) to the side actor would have really affected the film. And on the final edit I felt I took a good call (now I must re-iterate that filmmaking being subjective, people might disagree with my call as well but for a dir it is very imp that he has least number of regrets on the edit table).

I think the best films I have seen so far have impressed me with their story  first (or the profoundness of central thought and the catharsis it caused in me by emotionally involving me) and much later do I notice the acting, editing, direction and music.

 Appreciation for the parts should come only after appreciation for the whole.

But the stage of filmmaking I am in - or some of my friends or colleagues are is sort of an adolescent stage where our enthusiasm can lead us to get attracted by techniques at the cost of story.  However, with time and experience, we could also settle and aspire to be filmmakers like Koreda where every nuance, every use of technique is originating from the story and enhancing the story. Only a trained director on second viewing can point of the techniques that he slyly used, the techniques so effective that they became transparent.

Addendum: Actually the environment in which a film is made is also very important. The forces coming together to make the film - the producer, the music director, the cinematographer, the editor etc also play an important role in it.

1 comment:

anshuj said...

Very profound and well written Arati. Getting a peek inside a director's head was also a good bonus :)