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[an error occurred while processing this directive] "Drama is life with the dull bits left out." Hitchcock
I do not know how I can stress the importance of learning what is for stage, screen, page; maybe I should ask you to think through the Aristotle's three structural elements -- plot (action), hero (character) and throught (idea). All theree must be expressed through each other: your plot (story, read about the difference between the two) must have this special cinematic thought (something which is possible express ONLY on the screen). What is good for a short-story isn't good for a script. Think of medium -- music, dance, sculture -- they all ask for a specific CONCEPT (forms do not exist separately from the meaning). Examine your film "ideas" -- test them, before writing screen-play!

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A few comments for my Stage Directing Students:

I do not want to make another "concept" (theatre) page -- use this one -- film. Remember the difference -- your medium is the 3D space and LIVE TIME (stage).

When you think about the show, think HOW you about to USE this chronotope... many "ideas" are not theatre ideas, because they require different material -- words, screen, etc. Each art uses our imagination, but every time it is very DIFFENENT imagination.

The most common mistake is literary concept, something good for a short-story (or a novel, God forbit). Do the sipmle checkpoint test -- can you SHOW what you want to say? What your actors are for? They are the main material. If not, you are on the wrong track.

Do you see it? The images. The stage images...

Or do you see at least pictures?

If you don't, you are not ready.

Read this play again.

Something will work, something won't -- you have to have many visions.

The fire-place in "Who is Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" didn't work. The green table lamp for George -- so so, but the fish-tank for Martha did work!

Some images will work for main stage and won't for the lab space. The three sisters on the green sofa on the big dark stage could work, but not when they are so close to the audience. Think costumes, the dress becomes a set... Masha is always in dark? I need to frame this dark -- light wall? or black on black, when we can see only the face and hands? Both?

Think in visual compositions -- see what you see...

Each scene, each monologue has this central image (climatic moment), the rest is going to it, step-by-step... and the resolution -- the image to remember after the show. I'm thinking about the last minutre of the show (The Three Sisters). I have to find it first before I can thing about the first scene. (And Chekhov placed the beginning and the end in different settings -- inside, living/dinning room and outside. I have to establish the end in the first scene, I can't forget the first scene in the finale! They lost it, the house, the nest... between the first and the last is the story.

You have to forget the writer, the play is only a source of inspiration for a director. You won't lose the text, don't worry. Go away from it, from the words, go against it! (In the first scene I want to hear the military band playing outside -- sunday, the last -- the old clock which always stricks only twelve! In the last scene the band is leaving, then -- dead silence and we can hear the clock inside...)

Write you OWN play, write your stage directions (there no clock in the last scene, you know).

Keep your images going, make them work again and again. Andrey's violin. I want him to play badly, but at the end he plays so bad, that crashes (?) his violin.

Dance with your play... play with it... play it...

Last advise -- STEAL IT!

Yes, steal from the masters!

I know several great paintings I am about to get into my show -- El Greco for the night scene with the fire, Serov's portraits for the last act, even from Bergman flashbacks in "Wild Strawberries" -- the family table, everybody in white, summer...

Look, there is no copyright on ideas! Especially the great ones -- they must be taken! Take it! Use it! What you think I do with actors? I do the same what playwrights do -- I use them to express myself! I DIRECT them.

But, repeat it thousand times, USE THE PUBLIC!

Why do i need the sound of violin, clock, band? To play on them, on their imagination, to produce the emotions I need to tell the story... The story is my feelings I had watching the show. I watch it first, I see it, I experience it -- and direct myself to give it to them...

If you know YOUR story, you have the concept.


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"One good idea is better than three brilliant ideas." - Elia Kazan

Film Analysis:

The Directorial Image: The Play and the Director by Frank McMullan; Shoe String Press, 1962 - 1: Creativity and the Director - 2: Dramatic Communication and Response - 3: Nature and Pattern of Drama - 4: Potentials of Dramatic Values - 5: Points of Focus - Directorial Image

Stage Show Concept * Spring 2007 class


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Directors Forum THOUGHTS, FILMS & MOVIES google.com/group/directing

This site is born out of the files migration from my hard drive to the light on the web. Now I have something else to think about -- "writing on-line as a performance." A different type of writing and a special way of thinking. In the tradition of postmodern theories I consider you, reader, as my co-author and therefore I do not apologize for mistakes. Thought (truth) is a process (Hegel). If you like finished and polished texts, get a book.
The idea to think about film as the northern type of sensitivity is new to me and drives me crazy. First, rethinking the "geographic" perception; thanks to postmodern writers it is not a totally new thought. Second, the revision of my approach to the film phenomena -- you go to "View Points" page and see for yourself. Keeping it in mind, you can see how I arrived at teaching a new course. I welcome comments and suggestions. I consider this class as Film Studies using the "Northern" cinema -- Scandinavia, Russia, Germany and US. My aim is to study the nature of film -- the new postmodern notion of film as thought-feeling, nomadic structure of viewing experience, and the northern origins of cinema. Bergman and Tarkovsky are the two directors most suitable as material for analysis. (I still don't know how this class could be arranged in order to cover the basic philosophy behind those ideas).


At first this page was supposed to serve my directing students. I talk about concepts and conceptualization on the first day in class. I discover the importance of this line of thinking by experience and I try to make sure that they understand where their future troubles begin. The concepts are the genetic codes of the future film. All our mistakes are visible at the end. To solve the problems we go back to the very beginning. The real beginning is not your exposition, but the way you think about your film. Since you are the parent (creator), you should keep re-examining not only your storyboard, script, composition, concept -- but YOURSELF. You have to work on yourself the way you work on your film. In fact, your film is the best tool to do it. I have a simple criterion for successful film -- if making a film did change me, it's a success.


This word my students do not like. They don't understand it. That's how directing class begins -- with misunderstanding. If I don't understand something, there is a chance that I'll learn something new.

Directing is about directions. First thing to do is to direct yourself: your mind, your thought process, your feelings and visions. Since you're not an actor, there is no director to direct you. You have to do it. If you learn it, the rest is easy.

All great men and great directors are people of vision. The films taught in class are the trace of different new ways to see and to think about life, the world and yourself. Vision is a mature concept. Stanislavsky during his rehearsals liked to scream at his actors -- "I don't see it!" If your thought is strong enough for others to see, you have a concept. If you think that theatre is SHOW-BUSINESS, think again about film -- Film is the business of showing the invisible world of our soul.

I'm not sure that I understand the notorious division between art and craft. If you want to make a movie bad enough you will learn "how" to do it. Try and try again, try many times -- and you will end up studying how the best is done. For me the main question is WHY should I do it? It has to be personal, like everything of importance.

So, how is it born, the vision thing?

History Note

The French word "auteur" has been employed since legal battles in the 1930s struggled to determine who deserved credit for a film. The question extended beyound the courts when film theorist Andre Bazin founded the quarterly journal Cahiers du Cinema in 1951, devoted to studying the art of motion pictures and hailing its greatest contributors.
Universities and film societies closely followed Bazin's criticisms and an underground film movement was born. From this wellspring came the French New Wave directors Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut, who took to the streets with 16mm cameras and explored new visions in film. Others simply applied these viewpoints into a new appreciation for the people who make movies.
Taking his lead from film critic James Agee, Bazin argued that the highest purveyors of the form were the fiercely independent American directors that continued to stamp their personalities on films in the assembly-line mentality of the studio system. Bazin reverred directors like D.W.Griffith, Ernst Lubitsch, and Charlie Chaplin, those who had succeeded in experimenting and improving despite contract players, union crews, dictated scripts, and impossible deadlines imposed by the studios.
Bazin's auteur theory is today the most pervasive position in the world. Almost all films seen today are viewed with a sense of their sole originator, and today's directors are often more popular and more controversial than the actors or scripts of their films. A sudden appreciation for the films of Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, and particularly Howard Hawks, stemmed from this perspective. And contemporary directors such as Stanley Kubrick, Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorcese are now heralded for their distinctive styles.
Another important principle rediscovered by Bazin was mise-en-scene, a style of filming that emphasizes long takes, the placement of the camera, and choreography of action as an extension of the director's personal touch. Mise-en-scne, Bazin argues, is preferrable to the radical montage scenes of Sergei Eisenstein, for it shows that the director was planning all cuts before the editing stage. Bazin pointed to the works of Jean Renoir, Erich von Stroheim, and Orson Welles as the finest example of mise-en-scene directors, and renewed interest in their careers soon followed.
Bazin set a criteria by which film buffs could got back and evaluate the efforts of others, and molded thought for an entire generation of filmmakers, critics, and scholars.

BORN: April 8, 1918 in Angers, France. DIED: 1958

Simply, be an artist. Yes, like the one who paints his canvases. He has a blank space in front of him, you have empty space! Construct it, shape it, orginize... He will put the red paint, you, too -- the red dress crosses the screen, or red light... Paint it. Write you movies the way composer writes music.

What words? Sounds!

You don't need words...

HOMEWORK: select one 30 sec. commercial and describe its concept -- Commercial Archive*****

Read Bazin's book to understand that director is no less an artist, tha a composer, writer, painter! Being a "filmmaker" is only being a professional (craft of the trade)! Of course, a composer can read, write notation, play instruments -- but this is to support his artistic needs! You have to learn how to see the difference in Meyerhold's formula (for actors): Actor = Creator + Medium

How does this formula work for director? What is YOUR medium? The same: Director = Artist + Medium

Write down what you consider film directing medium (bring to class -- oral presentation).

Artist (Author) -- what is so unique about YOUR vision of the world, YOUR perception of life, your sensitivity? Do you know? Do you know yourself? You must -- because this is the REAL source of any new voice in filmmaking. If you have nothing to say about the world you are born in (never before existed and reflected upon), you won't make it as a director. You will end up assisting others.... at the best. Work on those both at the same time: Creator (Artist) + Medium (Craft).

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Your story (proposal) must contain PLOT/STORY, CHARACTER/HERO and IDEA/MESSAGE (Aristotle). One page, no more that 3-5 min. Also, must post 1/2 page proposal to the List.

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