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Direction's Fragments: ep 3

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

To be able to write you must read a lot, same is to direct a movie you must have seen a lot of cinema. There is a moment, more or less short, that everything stops: reading and viewing. More to read than to view.

Creating a cinematographic culture is important in order to have reference parameters, to accustom the eyes to peer beyond the narrative, to be able to study authors who are thought to be unattainable: the sequence shots of Bunuel, the close-ups of Leone, the trolleys of Ejzensteijn, “The touch” of Lubitsch.

You stop because the competition takes over, with yourself first of all!

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Directors can be compared to Formula 1 drivers: everyone is convinced that they are the best. There is no driver who does not think he is the fastest just as there will never be a director who will admit the artistic superiority of a colleague.

For a rider, if the desired results do not arrive, the fault lies with the aerodynamics, the tires, the lack of horsepower, but he will never admit to having the "less heavy foot" of those who pass in front of him. Thus a director will blame his own failures on the greed of the producer, the "bad" actor or the incompetence of press offices.

“I have a fond memory of Carlos Reutemann, the recently deceased Argentine driver. As a young assistant director I worked for CineFiat on industrial documentaries on Formula 1 and Rally: Ferrari and Lancia were the protagonists.

During the rehearsals, in Monza, Giles Villeneuve was lapping at a crazy speed; while shooting in the pits we catch up on Reutemann who stops to talk to engineer Forghieri, Ferrari's sporting director. Of course we don't hear the dialogue, as because of the noise in the Paddock we all wore ear plugs. Once in slow motion we find out what they said. Forghieri: "What do you want ... tell me what do you want?" Reutemann: "I can't do it ... I can't do it." (referring to Giles' test times) Forghieri: "You tell me what you want ... do you want more angle?" (referring to the rear wing) Reutemann: "I can't do it ... I can't do it." A clear admission of inferiority towards Villeneuve that left us stunned. Carlos was a good driver and also fast, he suffered from ups and downs but he made himself loved because he was a great gentleman”.

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Here, the refinement is not a peculiar gift of directors, they are usually hardened liars. Do you think Visconti could have thought that a guy named Fellini was superior to him? Or that Fellini himself could acknowledge that “drunk fatOrson Welles had more dreamlike visions than him? It could go on forever; titans of this caliber, who kissed each other in public and gave each other certificates of infinite esteem, actually hated and envied each other. It was the role they had to respect!

After all, that's how the whole world of entertainment is: big kisses and smiles in the open air, great envy under the embers. It is a bubble of fiction.

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Directors are often accused of having a "bad temper". Not true! You either have the character or you don't and if you don't have it, you can't do this job. It is true that there are improvised products that mistake authority for authoritarianism but believe, they do not last long.

Just as it is not necessary to study Freud, on the contrary, it is often harmful, so it is helpful to have a musical culture. It helps in visions when writing, providing a rhythm in editing; it hides a poetic vein that makes the most difficult situations sweeter and more bearable. But this is especially true in life!

A final question concerns the genesis of the screenplay. Many films are based on successful books, of the most varied genres: "War and Peace", "Congo", "The spy who came in from the cold", are just some examples of an endless literature plundered by cinema. There is a school of thought clearly opposed to using literature because the screenplay must be born "in purity" from the imagination of an author, not from the transposition of a book. Fellini was the leader of this current.

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But in conclusion, can we say that a director is an artist, even if immersed in an industrial system? Everyone is free to think whatever they want to, personally I consider it a matter of style.

The end


N.B. For the young people who want to undertake the arduous path of directing, two books are strongly recommended: “Notes of a Film Director", by Sergej Ejzensteijn - Einaudi Editore and “Hitchcock Truffaut", by Francois Truffaut - Net Editions. To know the life of a film set we recommend two films: “Day to Night”, by Francois Truffaut and all Rey’s movies, where there is all the poetry and the unconsciousness of the director.



Image Credit: Photo by Revolver Creative Company on Unsplash