Ella Fitzgerald. Photographed by Carl Van Vechten. (1940)
I think that it is very important that in this moment in time to remember that dramaturgy and how you structure a story is something very personal, and it is not something that you can really learn from a book or you can abide to any of the rules that you hear. I think the way you tell it, the way that you pace a story, the way that you choose to represent it through very particular scenes that is a lot about your personality, and you should allow it to be rather than to make something with the correct turning points and the expected structure. I think really what movies need today are people that try to do something. It could be catchy, even though it’s original. There is not a dichotomy where you either you apply the right rules and it’s exciting or you don’t and it’s boring and it’s difficult. I think there is stuff to be explored there, to push films further. And I also think the most personal thing you do as a filmmaker is where you put your camera, how you perceive things, how you see them. And I would say mise-en-scène is the most important aspect of it. It’s the choosing of the characters in casting, how you portray them, how you approach them visually. I hear a lot of young filmmakers talking about “I’m all about performance, the camera can just be around them.” That worries me. There is a great possibility for thematic treatment and emotion in where you place the camera and what lens you use, your lighting. All that stuff that is more sensuous, more tactile. I think those are important things to sustain in filmmaking at the moment; even though we’re shooting digitally, there are wonderful possibilities of doing something beautiful still.
Jacques Tati launching into the construction of “Tativille” for his film PLAYTIME (1967).
Ph. André Dino. © Les Films de Mon Oncle.
Third picture: PlayTime’s settings/scaffolding inspired the Mondriaan-like sculpture made of forged metal. (see also: the wonderful PlayTime poster)
Akira Kurosawa and Federico Fellini