The Master at Work
I’ve recently come to realize how a fuck up during a take can make a scene even better. Now I’m not talking about the blooper reels you see at the end of Jackie Chan movies, I’m talking about a cough, stumbling on or repeating a line, a character tripping over themselves, over falling asleep on camera. All of the above have been edited into Rainbow Connection and have made the film that much more interesting/better. The real stuff. Like so many others, I was always about finding that perfect take, even if it meant shooting 7 takes of a wide master.
As a side note: That’s why it takes over 6 days for me to shoot a short film.
With a mistake comes something genuine. The actor is no longer acting, they are reacting to the moment. That, to me, is the most interesting thing about performances. Sometimes they react in character, sometimes they look at the camera and sometimes they stop and say “sorry”. But sometimes, just sometimes, they float somewhere in between, where you’re not quite sure if the mistake is intentional or not. Those are my favourites.
I actually started to think about incorporating flubs in the edit while we were filming. The original opening to Eugene’s first scene with his mother had him waking her up and lighting a smoke for her. Dylan (Eugene) was not familiar with using a lighter. The 3rd take in he burned himself and the moment/tone of the scene instantly changed. Even Deborah (Eugene’s mom) changed and for a slight moment you saw a side to her character that isn’t in the rest of the film. That one little fuck up showed more about her character and their relationship then the rest of the film. Ok maybe I’m stretching, but you learned a lot in a little bit of time, which too me is also key to filmmaking, especially shorts. When I was working with Patrick, who has autism, every take was a flub in a sense. Nothing would ever be the same and I had no idea what to expect one minute to the next. Some of Patrick’s reactions in the film were from me coaxing him, a lot came from exterior sources (ie. someone opening a door off screen) and some came from a place you and I know nothing about. No matter where they came from, they work. And although his reactions to certain scenarios may seem odd, they’re real.
Now that I’ve started to look at mistakes in a different light I’ve been going through all the footage again, keeping my eye out for gems. Vandewater may have found the ultimate fuck up/awesome moment the other day. I don’t even want to give it away. Leave it more as a Where’s Waldo type of thing. I don’t know how much more I can really say about this. It’s pretty straight forward, just be open as a director. Being stubborn or staying focused on making the movie you want, even if you don’t have it, doesn’t make you a auteur. It’s makes you an asshole.
As a side note: Doing drugs also helps.