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Direction's Fragments: ep 1

A journey through the world of directing with some brief considerations and a few anecdotes in no particular order, plus some (not required) advices for the youngest.

By Gianfranco Gatta

You can teach a rhesus monkey to be a director in a day”. Line from the movie "Argo" that says a lot about the decline of an artist figure, which has been venerated for the entire Twentieth Century.

Especially in Television, the director is now a sort of technician, devoid of any space for inventiveness, necessary only as a “garbage can” into which all production, authorial and temperamental problems are poured; last but not least, the legal responsibility for broadcasting. Today even a master like Antonello Falqui would have problems dealing with managers of embarrassing incompetence, conductors with a fluctuating character, authors who in most cases do not know what a lineup is.

 
 
 
 
 
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The Director/Author and here we return to the cinema is a predominantly solitary figure who, unlike a writer or a painter or a composer, needs to deal with dozens of people to see his Work completed. An oxymoron!

The gestation and realisation of a movie has a three-step path: the first is the conception and writing of the screenplay, which on average varies from one to three months. The second one is the most complicated, especially if the script is not commissioned; the search for money and therefore for a producer, especially for a debutant, can take years, a couple of years if they are lucky. The third concerns the making of the movie, made up of shoots that take place on average in four to five weeks and the editing, montage, dubbing, etc. which can start almost parallel to shooting, reducing the final process to about three weeks. Then the promotion begins and the press offices take over.

During the shooting, a director is constantly confronted with actors, technical staff, first of all the director of photography, followed by operators, electricians, machinists, make-up artists and hairdressers, set designers and interior designers, sound engineers, editors and many other professionals; often it is the assistant director and the assistants who act as a filter, but there is no doubt that every day of shooting and editing a director is overwhelmed by continuous questions and various requests, to which he has to owe a satisfactory answer. He goes to the psyche of the crew and the cast.

In the end, between continuous mediations with the producer, actors and various personnel, the Author loses part of the ownership of his work, having become a collective work. And some still continue to consider Cinema a form of Art, while for the collective imaginary it is "An Emotion".

 
 
 
 
 
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In reality, Cinema is an Industry, perhaps anomalous but still an industry whose main purpose is to "make money", as it should be since it counts thousands of workers. Art is another thing! If we consider Van Gogh who never sold a painting in his life, we understand better.

There is no doubt that Masterpieces can come out of an industry, comparable to true Works of Art, just think of a "Porsche Targa4" (strictly for men) or an Amarone Riserva 2015, just to range from manufacturing and oenological. Thus, Cinema produces masterpieces such as "La Dolce Vita" or "Blade Runner"; but most of the products supplied by an industry are generally of medium-low quality.

 
 
 
 
 
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There was a great director who admonished his assistants: “Is your family rich? Because if you are not, you cannot do this job. " This affirmation was not only an invitation to not consider directing as a social elevator, unless strongly endowed with great passion, but also to select, in a very snobbish way and a "bit" racist, those accustomed to a certain ease and consequently to the taste for beauty. Luigi Squarzina, a refined theatrical director, set up a "Cardinal Lambertini" for the Teatro Stabile in Rome, in the early 80s, demanding in the scenography all authentic furnishings of the time: silk brocade tablecloths and drapes, gold cutlery, crystal glasses and so on, bringing the costs of the set up to the stars. The reasons were that the rustle of silk was different from that of nylon, just as a crystal toast has no comparison with that of glass: it was necessary to educate the public about beauty also through hearing.

 
 
 
 
 
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Can we talk about the sound of a Dupont lighter when it closes? Luxury, when it is not a waste but a choice, it favors the artistic vein if this is thought as a representation of "Beauty".

But there is poetry everywhere as "Street Art" teaches us.

To be continued.

 

 

Credit Images: Nicolette Leonie Villavicencio on Pexels