Films, Visions and Dreams

From Action To Cut

54. People and Technology

There' s an interface where people and technology meet.  Some people are far more adept at this place and can manipulate the technology to their own ends. You need people like this because the basic fact about film is that it is an arena where Art meets Technology.  The tools of the art of film are highly advanced and require the use of experienced hands.

People are not machines and should not be treated as such.  Where there is a person there is a heart and soul, where there is a machine there is just inanimate matter.  The choice of film is one made with this in mind, it is just another barrier to be overcome, that one must use such technology to transform one’s vision.

Of course there are plenty of people who love all the types of technology associated with the film process.  The image of a crew on location is often one that draws the attention of the crowd.  Most importantly the equipment is of value to the filmmaker because it does a job.

Some film technology is quite beautiful, if looked at with this in mind.  Cameras especially are incredibly well designed and have an appeal all of their own.  But it is the look that they create that is of interest here.  Different technology, like different brushes for a painter yields different results.  In a way it is the mastering of this technology that gives an artist the freedom to utilise its functions and work around its limitations.

Actors its seems have little or no interest in the paraphernalia of film technology.  They must know a little in order to give their best performance.  It is the director who has to be the go-between, primarily shuttling back and forth between the actors and the director of photography.  So the director needs to be able to speak both the technical language of the crew and the emotional language of the actors.

Knowing your limitations in these areas is wise.  Sometimes knowing what you want and being able to articulate it to the actors and DP is all that is required.  They will then do their best, with their own specialised know-how, to give you this.  It all depends where you strengths lie.  A technical director may spend longer setting up the shot with the DP than talking to the actors.  Some directors are all about acting.  In truth you need to be bilingual.

This whole subject is often the basis of the story lines in a film. Man versus machine, the machine as an extension of a person’s ego.  Some machines in films are depicted with a benign facet such as friendly robots but by and large the machine is the bad guy.  Whatever your take on these issues at some point you are going to have to get used to the nature of film as being one where technology is king.  If you fail to work with it then you will almost certainly be working against it.

There is a certain cache about working in the film business.  It is why many people originally want to get involved.  The idea that you can at once be an individual artist and at the same time be part of something where teamwork is everything.  You could see it as a team of artists.

There is also something magical about working with the film medium in particular.   The modern equipment is the latest evolution of what was used over a hundred years ago.  It is as though the film itself, running through the camera does provide a soul for the machine.  Shooting on film is expensive but if you can find a way to afford it and edit on a computer you will find yourself with a very different product than if you use a digital recording medium.  Maybe the digital revolution has yet to develop a soul.