Rules, principles and guides…

Boards This weekend coming, I will be running my weekend masterclass at Ealing Studios, and probably, the last one for some time. Every time I run one of these classes, I spend time beforehand reflecting on current trends and shifts in film making. Of course, I still have last weekends premiere bouncing around and I am still high as a kite! So that’s skewing my perspective.

During my seminar, I offer a number of what I would call rules, guides and principles. When I made Gone Fishing I was resolute that I take my own medicine, and I am delighted that adhering to all my own rules paid off. One of those rules is shooting 25 frames per second in the UK – and I feel more than ever, even on HD, this is the way to go (if you have a limited budget). Without getting too deep into techy jargon, the main reasons for shooting 25fps and not 24fps are all technical. But there is one counter argument I hear regularly from people who shot 25fps and then watched their film at 24fps in a cinema. They can sense the drop in speed of 4% – the movie is that little bit slower and voices that bit deeper. To my ear, that pitch drop is better than a pitch increase, which I now have on GF (and I know that it’s possible to re-pitch these days, but that comes with its own set of problems too). And as for people noticing their film is slower in pace, I think that has much more to do with it being slow film in the first place, and perhaps a movie that has not been cut as tight as the narrative dictates.

One regular problem I see are films being screened that are really not complete. There is still work to do. I believe this is also a rule too. I believe it so much that when Guy Rowlands, one of the writers who did a polish on Gone Fishing, came to me with a re-edit idea AFTER the premiere, we tried it out. Eddie Hamilton did a recut to accommodate this idea, emailed me a QT, and we watched it. In many ways this recut worked, but I felt it interrupted the narrative and was also slightly disingenuous (it was a flashback that implied a certain story ‘truth’ that was in fact ‘not true’.) So we didn’t use it. But the point is, we did try, and really gave it a good and credible attempt. So thanks Guy for pursuing excellence with us all.

Of course, all films have to be completed at some point, or as James Cameron says, ‘all films are abandoned…’ but you want to do that when you have exhausted every possible alternative and idea. I felt I owed it to everyone involved – cast, crew, contributors, audience, and of course myself, to know absolutely that the film we end up with is the best that it can be.

I also got notes from a few other film makers which were fascinating, but often veering off into personal opinion, or likes or dislikes of certain aspects of the film (some people like the wobbly cam of the ‘Bourne’ films, some don’t – it’s not right or wrong but a choice…) All fascinating stuff and good to get different perspectives from people whose opinions one trusts.

Onward and upward!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

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