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what's more important, direction or acting?


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Unless the director is the legal owner of the source material (which was rarely the case in the studio era days but more common now), the director would have to get permission from the owner to make a 'director's cut'. In cases like these I wonder who ponies up the money and how the profits (if any), are divided up.


As for editors; In the studio era I always wondered how much actual control they had and how the director and producers 'monitored' what the editor was doing. Like the management of any complex process I always wonder who has the final say and how the various parties manage their power in the lifecycle of the process.


As the lead software developer I have experience in a somewhat similar process. I made it clear to management (who knew next to nothing about creating software), that I was willing to conform to their vision BUT they had to get me their ideas early on in the process. Otherwise the cost associated with redoing things would get way out of hand.





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Going out on a limb here finance, but in answer to your question, didn't Casablanca have major screen writing issues? They started production with only half the script written? The Epsteins's and Koch (and my mother's sister in law from Donegal ---- that's a joke) got invited to write. Now, this may not be a good answer to your question considering how successful this "little" film became, but one of the Epstein's has been quoted saying "there was more corn in that film than the states of Iowa and Kansas". And Koch maintains it was the tension that brought the film balance, blah, blah, blah.



Bottom line, I have enjoyed the initial question, but find it IMPOSSIBLE to answer completely, due to more thinking and the points others make like . . . .editing! Time to get back to some serious vodka and the fact this this is the longerst day of the year.



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Just to clarify something....

When I mention John Ford's "inappropriate choices of long/medium/close shots"

For example- when a charactor realizes they love another-it's a full body shot and when someone's drinking a beer at the bar-it's an intimate close facial shot. Opposite of what you'd expect to create mood. Maybe that's Ford's "genius", but I don't get it.

And just because my friends made documentaries, doesn't mean they didn't study (or work in) film in general.


I love that example Dargo. When I showed TikiKid Singin' In The Rain, I warned her about the extreme close up crane shot coming for the big ending in the Broadway Melody number. When it closed in on Gene's big toothy smile I screamed like PeeWeeHerman, "GAH!"


Now, no matter what we're seeing, if the camera gets too close we both do it in unison, which usually gets a chuckle from those around us.


I agree about the editor imput too. Remember how Hitchcock edited by only shooting one way, not letting anyone change his vision? I rarely pick up on bad edits but always notice the impact of great editing.


And you never really know if an actor disregards direction and gives the performance THEY want to give, especially with a Bette Davis or Marlon Brando egotist type.


Just goes to show you film is a team effort with many unsung contributers. In fact, if anyone stands out _too_ much, it can ruin the finished product. It needs to mesh, blend and flow as a whole.

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Ah, thanks for the clarification, TikiSoo.


There is something to be said for the unexpectedness instead of the same-old, same-old too.


When working on a spec years ago, one of the characters was a local TV reporter. Other than volunteering at my local PBS radio, unfamiliar with the world of local TV news. I started to watch the news regularly and go on the internet to see some smaller news operations (which were posting their newscast stories online) and dissect it to write it in the action.


The local story, whether a package or live, VSOT or stand-ups had the same video features.


--standup of reporter (waist high for women usually-chest high for men) (if live on scene available)

--Wide establishing shot of mayhem

--view from 12-25 ft away, depending on detail needed.

--standup of reporter (if available) in front of mayhem.

--insert interviews of witness/opinion reactions

--return to standup and close


Back to studio.


There were some stations that would include shot of street sign at the corner after the establishing shot, then return to a close up of the the ambulance or fire truck, but you don't see this too much anymore. It was standard practice with some stations to the point viewers would call in complaining if the station didn't include it!


Anyway, I find I am attracted to the camera work that does the unexpected with the convention story/shot guidelines, and maybe that's why I love *The Quiet Man* so much.


Back to you, TikiSoo....

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Thanks, Tiki...about your appreciation of my use of Clint's extreme close-up to make my point down there, that is.


I'm glad you responded back with an example about Ford's manner of direction and how it could possibly seem to some as counter-intuitive, as just in your case and before it was brought to your attention by the two documentary filmmakers, I hadn't noticed such things, myself. As you now do, I'll begin to attempt to notice this in his films and will see if I think it might adds or detract from them.


And Re the Gene Kelly scene in "SINGIN'", I'm sorry but from your use of the "PeeWee Herman" analogy to describe your reaction to it, I can't tell if you think it's a perfect use of the final close-up shot or if you think it might be a bit over done?


(...'cause I've always thought it a perfect use of such)

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HA! You don't know the HALF of it, LADY!


(...but if I knew how to type in that there Cyrillic stuff, I could spell it all out for ya so it'd just be between you and I...oh, and yeah, anybody else who might be from the old Eastern Bloc TOO!) ;)

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>casablancalover said: There were some stations that would include shot of street sign at the corner after the establishing shot, then return to a close up of the the ambulance or fire truck, but you don't see this too much anymore.


Now they just show a googlemap picture to establish location.


>And Re the Gene Kelly scene in "SINGIN'"


Dargo, I started by explaining exactly what the Broadway Melody number was going to look like. I said "the ending is a big crane shot-watch the backround - and the camera is going to zoom in to Gene's face, so close you're going to see his tonsils!"


So as it zooms in I implore "slow down!" and then put my hands in front of my face and jokingly yell "Aaahhh" as if we're going to crash!


It got a big laugh out of her....I know, overly dramatic. But I'm just illustrating how you can be an active viewer instead of a passive watcher. (at least when we're in our own homes)


The kid hated musicals, but now she understands and enjoys their fantasy aspect. And now when she watches a film, she's much more aware they are not "real stories" but team efforts of many people putting their talents together for one vision-which is kind of what this thread is about.


It's just kind of funny that whenever she sees an extreme close up, in any movie, she'll repeat my silly performance. Laughter is a good teacher.


You want gifs? I'll give ya gifs:







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>TikiSoo wrote: Now they just show a googlemap picture to establish location.

Ha! You're right!


I was meaning no offense at local TV news either- at least at their video setups. They are always at such a tight schedule to get on the air, this is what they know would work. It's when they have the luxury of a feature piece more in depth that I really appreciate the extra detail in visual story-telling. But how often does that happen?


Edited by: casablancalover2 on Jun 23, 2013 10:42 AM

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In the classic studio period the producer was in control of the final cut- the editor, director and writer were just contract employees like the everyone else on the lot. Yes Welles did go off to South America and let someone else butcher/improve "The Magnificet Ambersons"- well Robert Wise thought he made it better.

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This is like saying, what's more important, the chicken or the egg? How can one exist without the other?


Some directors love working with actors and elicit better performances from them. Elia Kazan was mentioned. I would also add George Cukor, Ida Lupino and James Ivory in this category. They were all very in tune to what the actors could add to the material and provided careful guidance.


Other directors undermine actors (and what the screenwriter intended). What we get is an out-of-control ego that destroys a good story.

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>This is like saying, what's more important, the chicken or the egg? How can one exist without the other?


Hmmm...well TB, I take it you're not an adherent of Hitch's own person view of the movie making process then, eh?....


"I never said all actors are cattle; what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle."


(...'cause while yes, a collaborative environment IS always conducive to a successful film, c'mon now YOU know that the cinema is ultimately the "director's medium")

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some comments on whether directing or acting is more important:


(1) One can protest a certain circularity: a great director is one who can get great performances from actors, instead of just competent ones. How many great actors give performances in mediocre movies? But if a movie has a demonstrable quality, people will take its director seroiusly.


(2) I personally find that Dustin Hoffman is clearly the best part of movies that otherwise would be much less successful. I am not a big fan of The Graduate, and Tootsie would be a much lesser movie without him. I am certainly not a big fan of other John Schlesinger movies and Hoffman is certainly the best part of Straight Time.


(3) On the other hand, the number of great John Wayne movies not directed by John Ford and Howard Hawks is fairly limited.


(4) Jonathan Rosenbaum once commented that he had problems with both Ninotchka and Love in the Afternoon because he thought the lead in both movies would be better played by Cary Grant. And it is hard to disagree with him.


(5) Some directors have a remarkable ability to find great actors, like Ingmar Bergman. And there are directors like Stanley Kramer who can do nothing with talent but squaner it.

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The chicken is more important than the egg because chickens can have value without producing eggs.



Oh wait a minute - chickens come from eggs! Eggs are mandatory to produce chickens!



Hold on a sec! You need to chickens to produce eggs! WHOA - I GET IT NOW !! ;) Can I phone a friend? :)



Actors are more important because they can direct themselves (literally or figuratively) or be charismatic no matter who's directing...



Directors are more important because they co-ordinate ALL the actors as well as all the other elements that make up a movie. I'm sure every movie set needs a ringleader. Directors can direct animated movies, too.



I'm glad I could solve that dilemma for you. Have a great day, TB. Mark H London ON












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OK, it may be completely geeky/childish of me, but I am a big fan of the Harry Potter movies/books as are my kids, so we saw/read them all. Multiple times. I think the difference in quality between the first two and the third lies, in large part, with the director. The first two movies aren't terrible--they were competent--nothing spectacular or special, no sense of "magic" or of entering another world like you got from reading the books. Pretty faithful to the actual text of the books (which is something peoplre always complain about, but it isn't necessarily a virtue) but kind of boring. And, cardinal sin in my book, the script took out much of the humor. What was left, with the exception of a few lines, was obvious, contrived and very slapstick.


Then came the third movie, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, and it was wonderful. It's the only one of the films he directed and is by far, the best. Granted, the kids had become better actors and that helped, but I think the biggest difference was the director (though I could be wrong). The script didn't follow the books exactly, but there were so many added little touches that helped create that sense of entering another world that was so missing from the first two films. The sets were better and more detailed, with all sorts of activity going on behind or around the characters, who are often shown in longer views/shots for just this reason. One scene in particular really worked--near the beginning of the film there's a scene of the boys all sitting in their dorm, wearing pajamas and fooling around eating magic candy. There's no scene like it in the books, but it's funny and intimate and pulls you into the world of the film. But Cuaron doesn't linger on it--after a few seconds he swoops outside into the night, where the dementors (evil, soul-sucking monsters, for non-fans) are waiting, creating a chilling contrast between the warmth and security of the castle and the danger outside. The kids are given little lines and actions that make them seem more like the teenagers they are (like Hermione worrying about the state of her hair when they are in the middle of a crisis). Funny little touches like cheerful waltz music during a scene where Harry turns his evil bitchy Aunt Marge into a human balloon and imbuing the whomping willow (a sentient tree) with a comically nihilistic personality, I could go on and on...Here's one of the scenes I mean--there's no point to it, as far as driving the plot, but it's just another one of those little things that makes the movie enjoyable. It takes place in the wizarding inn called The Leaky Cauldron, where Harry is meeting his friends before going back to school.




or Lupin's boggart class:






Sorry about the length--I do get a bit too enthusiastic at times!

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