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2007 updates -- Spring THR331 Fundamentals of Stage Directing
If you read my pages in order, you know by now that director is a storyteller and has to do it in images.

There are several pages I have regarding VISUAL COMPOSITION: check the Theatre Directing. There are also pages in ART directory in 200X Files.

The question is how to arrange the primary action and secondary (camera) in such a way that you can get the dynamic visual composion (here we cross the line of the slide-presentations into montage). See it as collage in action. From the theory perspective each shot must have to contradictive qualities: be a open structure in order to leave within the content of other images, and to be complete, according to the old rules of fine art (balance, proportions, mass). How can we have both? That is the great secret of filmmaking!

Compare the script (Battleship Potemkin) and the images from the film:

Wild Strawberries, Bergman:

In the early morning of Saturday, the first of June, I had a strange and very unpleasant dream. I dreamed that I was taking my usual morning stroll through the streets. It was quite early and no human being was in sight. This was a bit surprising to me. I also noted that there were no vehicles parked along the curbs. The city seemed strangely deserted, as if it were a holiday morning in the middle of summer.
The sun was shining brightly and made sharp black shadows, but it gave off no warmth. Even though I walked on the sunny side, I felt chilly. The stillness was also remarkable. I usually stroll along a broad, tree-lined boulevard, and even before sunrise the sparrows and crows are as a rule extremely noisy. Besides, there is always the perpetual roar from the center of the city. But this morning nothing was heard, the silence was absolute, and my footsteps echoed almost anxiously against the walls of the buildings. I began to wonder what had happened.
Just at that moment I passed the shop of a watchmaker-optometrist, whose sign had always been a large clock that gave the exact time. Under this clock hung a picture of a pair of giant eyeglasses with staring eyes. On my morning walks I had always smiled to myself at this slightly grotesque detail in the street scene.
To my amazement, the hands of the clock had disappeared. The dial was blank, and below it someone had smashed both of the eyes so that they looked like watery, infected sores.
Instinctively I pulled out my own watch to check the time, but I found that my old reliable gold timepiece had also lost its hands. I held it to my ear to find out if it was still ticking. Then I heard my heart beat. It was pounding very fast and irregularly. I was overwhelmed by an inexplicable feeling of frenzy.
I put my watch away and leaned for a few moments against the wall of a building until the feeling had passed. My heart calmed down and I decided to return home.
To my joy, I saw that someone was standing on the street corner. His back was toward me. I rushed up to him and touched his arm. He turned quickly and to my horror I found that the man had no face under his soft felt hat.
I pulled my hand back and in the same moment the entire figure collapsed as if it were made of dust or frail splinters. On the sidewalk lay a pile of clothes. The person himself had disappeared without a trace. I looked around in bewilderment and realized that I must have lost my way. I was in a part of the city where I had never been before. I stood on an open square surrounded by high, ugly apartment buildings. From this narrow square, streets spread out in all directions. Everyone was dead; there was not a sign of a living soul.
High above me the sun shone completely white, and light forced its way down between the houses as if it were the blade of a razor-sharp knife. I was so cold that my entire body shivered. Finally I found the strength to move again and chose one of the narrow streets at random. I walked as quickly as my pounding heart allowed, yet the street seemed to be endless. Then I heard the tolling of bells and suddenly I was standing on another open square near an unattractive little church of red brick. There was no graveyard next to it and the church was surrounded on all sides by gray-walled buildings.
Not far from the church a funeral procession was wending its way slowly through the streets, led by an ancient hearse and followed by some old-fashioned hired carriages. These were pulled by pairs of meager-looking horses, weighed down under enormous black shabracks. I stopped and uncovered my head. It was an intense relief to see living creatures, hear the sound of horses trotting and church bells ringing.
Then everything happened very quickly and so frighteningly that even as I write this I still feel a definite uneasiness. The hearse was just about to turn in front of the church gate when suddenly it began to sway and rock like a ship in a storm. I saw that one of the wheels had come loose and was rolling toward me with a loud clatter. I had to throw myself to one side to avoid being hit. It struck the church wall right behind me and splintered into pieces.
The other carriages stopped at a distance but no one got out or came to help. The huge hearse swayed and teetered on its three wheels. Suddenly the coffin was thrown out and fell into the street. As if relieved, the hearse straightened and rolled on toward a side street, followed by the other carriages.
The tolling of the church bells had stopped and I stood alone with the overturned, partly smashed coffin. Gripped by a fearful curiosity, I approached. A hand stuck out from the pile of splintered boards. When I leaned forward, the dead hand clutched my arm and pulled me down toward the casket with enormous force. I struggled helplessly against it as the corpse slowly rose from the coffin. It was a man dressed in a frock coat.
To my horror, I saw that the corpse was myself. I tried to free my arm, but he held it in a powerful grip. All this time he stared at me without emotion and seemed to be smiling scornfully.
In this moment of senseless horror, I awakened and sat up in my bed. It was three in the morning and the sun was already reflecting from the rooftops opposite my window. I closed my eyes and I muttered words of reality against my dream—against all the evil and frightening dreams which have haunted me these last few years.

ISAK: My name is Isak Borg. I am still alive. I am seventy-six years old. I really feel quite well.

[ awesomefilms.com ]


Call it a scrap-book, if you will.

Maybe this is the place to ask -- Why do you use zoom so often? Remember, to FOLLOW ACTION only! Or? Is your image too static? Don't do it, unless you want to single out a story point!


Collect them, the images! Also, the episodes from your favorite films in class.


See Haiku Page: sometimes one line of poetry gives you a strong VISUAL direction!

TOPICS: drama + comedy + postmodern + time + space + Artistic ID * Style * Story, Form & Genre * Screen Language * Projects * Script * Translation to the Screen * Directing the Frame * Subject Size * Angle * Perspective * Composition * Look * Movement * Continuity * Coverage * mise-en-scene * Casting * Rehearsal * Directing Actors * Audience * Expectation * Suspense * Surprise * Violence * Humor * Dynamic Dialogue Scenes * Static Dialogue Scenes * Group Dialogue Scenes * Tips * Documentaries & Experimental * scripts *

Prose sample (Chekhov's "Lady with a Dog"):

At Oreanda they sat on a seat not far from the church, looked down at the sea, and were silent. Yalta was hardly visible through the morning mist; white clouds stood motionless on the mountain-tops. The leaves did not stir on the trees, grasshoppers chirruped, and the monotonous hollow sound of the sea rising up from below, spoke of the peace, of the eternal sleep awaiting us. So it must have sounded when there was no Yalta, no Oreanda here; so it sounds now, and it will sound as indifferently and monotonously when we are all no more. And in this constancy, in this complete indifference to the life and death of each of us, there lies hid, perhaps, a pledge of our eternal salvation, of the unceasing movement of life upon earth, of unceasing progress towards perfection. Sitting beside a young woman who in the dawn seemed so lovely, soothed and spellbound in these magical surroundings -- the sea, mountains, clouds, the open sky -- Gurov thought how in reality everything is beautiful in this world when one reflects: everything except what we think or do ourselves when we forget our human dignity and the higher aims of our existence.

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