Thursday 20 November 2014

Ridley Scott on filmmaking

This all audio, no moving pictures. Okay? The (muted) sounds in the background come from Thelma & Louise, which Ridley Scott directed and here discusses at length.


Unknown said...

Ridley Scott talking while viewing Thelma and Louise, made in 1991.

His career began with 7 years at Royal College of Art, then BBC designer, made 30 minute movie with brother Thomas Scott who starred and carried equipment, then 15 years television commercial directing as route into feature films. Commercials are short movies with maximum technology, emphasis on communication, great learning ground for feature films. Developed ‘The Duellists’ as route to into Hollywood. Then Alien, Blade Runner, Legend, Someone to Watch Over Me, Black Rain.

Chose Thelma and Louise, a female character driven story, to step away from being pigeonholed as exotic locations director. The script had been floating around for a while. Developed in conjunction with writer. Decided to make it fun, not serious.

Director’s performance is everything you see on the screen, the actors, the words, the blue sign, the light, the movement of the crowd, how much smoke. Director’s job is to make the proscenium for the actors as real as possible. As the film evolves, it should become more majestic for two figures journeying through the landscape to their own demise.

Working with actors
If didn’t go to acting schools, no experience, learn to articulate what your requirements are while you are doing it. Ridley Scott discovered he was good at casting. The better the actor, a lot of problems for the character taken care of, room to address everything else in more detail. The best actors have ability and come with solutions and ideas. The best relationship with any thespian is a partnership. Come to a solution before you get on the floor. Then on the floor everyone knows what they’re doing. Director becomes barometer of what they can do – up down slow – actor doesn’t need to be told reasons why.

Visual dialogue
It is easy to get swamped on process of how film looks. A lot of detail. Ridley Scott has art directing background and attends to all details. Film is a visual medium. He is now being influenced by rock videos and TV commercials. There is a new visual dialogue developing.

Hates bright top lighting unless in medical room or abattoir. Uses light as he sees it. Always two cameras working now. The magic goes through the viewfinder. Empty space in close up or landscape or medium shot.

Storyboards are a key factor. Storyboard everything. Draw the whole thing. Ridley Scott now does thumbnails and gives to sophisticated storyboard artist to make copies for first AD, cameramen, prop departments.

Putting scenes together
Shout when no train, using fan, then shoot train and put together later.
Party scenes are a nightmare. Everyone shouting.
Last scenes needed to be embellished, more spectacular, as part of the final journey which is getting more spectacular as the pressure mounts.
Landscape underscoring the characters. Don’t discuss with anyone as it is confusing to them. The writer is only interested in story, narrative and dialogue. Spend a lot of time with writers, see the film as they talk.
Director Register distils aspect of scene such as desert to its simplest form.

Unknown said...

Working with two cameras
Scene works better when do it all together. Actors off camera for two hours, not fresh. Can only do if light allows. As the scene develops they get more into it and find their own reality. Move camera rather than cutting and having stop-start. Once you say Action an actor is on stage. Can waste a lot of footage but better for the actors.

Edited by Tom Noble, elegant cutter especially on characters. Gets to the solution gradually without drastic cuts. Once you see a film a few times it gets slower and slower. You have to bear in mind people see it once.

Average price of Hollywood movie is $24m, Thelma and Louise done for $16-17m as actresses less well known and everyone else reasonable.

Script is the star. Everybody knows you’re onto a good thing. Nothing worse when actor doing it for the money and thinks it’s really dumb.

Describes lighting in various scenes.

Score upbeat and fun rather than funny. Ridley Scott shoots for score. Score is the fourth dimension, music is dialogue. Score is manipulative, adjusts your feelings, pushes you further than the film. Score can bail you out if fast cutting can’t be done. Hans Zimmer worked with Ridley Scott on Thelma and Louise and Blackberry. Very inventive, one of the special composers.

Filming is orchestration. Keep eye out for opportunities. The stronger the script, the more you can play around with things. Director needs to be organic, directing with visions. They are imaginative, they have a strong overview and can put it into practice, able to create an afterthought on the spot.