HOW DID THEY GET THAT GOOD

Practice makes perfect. Sounds good, but it needs to be perfect practice. Well what is that??

I have heard it advocated that one should ‘paint a picture a day’ and this will speed one to artisthood. Maybe this comes from Malcolm Gladwell’s observation that it takes about 10,000 hours to become a ‘Master’. Maybe it does, but standing over a canvas on the floor and drizzling paint out of a bucket for 10k hrs. will not make you Jackson Pollack, sorry. No it has to be 10k hrs. of actually doing something. Let’s stick with Pollack. There is a lot going on in a Pollack painting, and it isn’t jump out at you illustration. You have to “contribute” to a Pollack to get something out of it, whether it is the landscape, or the portrait, or the still life. And they didn’t get into the painting by just drizzling paint. Look up some of the videos of him at work, it’s work.

If you look at the larger body of some Old Master’s work, someone who’s left a lot of paintings, and sketches, and etchings, etc. you see that there are the same, or very similar, poses and figures. Here in Guido Cagnacci’s Death of Cleopatra he has used the same face and he is able to put the different emotions on it, not by chance surely.

There is no quick fix nor is quantity alone an answer. You won’t become a Master by turning out one piece of crap a day, but you will get better if you turn out one perfect hand/leg/arm/nose every drawing session. Discover, recover, uncover the basics of drawing a hand, foot, etc. and then do that, drill the basics. When it becomes your own it will not leave you.

Hugh MacLeod in a talk made 20 points about success here is what he says about mastery:

“17. In a word: MASTERY. They’ve MASTERED something. Something inte­res­ting and valua­ble. They are MASTERS of their craft. It may be an old-fashioned word that makes peo­ple uncom­for­ta­ble, but that’s only because it’s something that elu­des most people.

18. Though, having watched these mas­ters care­fully first-hand, I can honestly say MASTERY is more satisf­ying than money. If you’re up for it, yes, MASTERY MATTERS MORE THAN MONEY, MASTERY MATTERS MORE THAN SUCCESS.

19. And it’s por­ta­ble. It tra­vels with you, whe­re­ver you go. No land­lord, no boss, no reces­sion, no Wall Street analyst, no news­pa­per cri­tic can take it away. It’s something that truly belongs to you, for always.”

I like that last, “It’s something that truly belongs to you, for always.”


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ACTORS

I took a minor in theatre at university. So I’ve always enjoyed acting, actors, the stage, and film; and there are many fine actors. Brando, Jack Nicholson, Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, and Cate Blanchett. All have played such a broad range of character you almost, though having seen them numerous times, have no idea who they are because they are so diverse.

Here are a few of the faces of Cate Blanchett:

Elizabeth I, Dr. Irina Spalko, Galadriel, and Annie Wilson.

Catherine Élise “Cate” Blanchett was born in the Melbourne suburb of Ivanhoe 14 May 1969. Her work has earned her several accolades, including an Academy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two BAFTAs, and a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Blanchett has described herself as being “part extrovert, part wallflower” during childhood. She attended a primary school in Melbourne. For her secondary education she attended Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School and then Methodist Ladies’ College, from which she graduated. She studied economics and fine arts at the University of Melbourne before leaving Australia to travel overseas.

Blanchett made her international film debut with a supporting role as an Australian nurse captured by the Japanese Army during World War II, in Bruce Beresford’s 1997 film Paradise Road.

Her first high-profile international role was as Elizabeth I of England in the 1998 movie Elizabeth, which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She lost out though to Gwyneth Paltrow, but won a British Academy Award (BAFTA) and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama.

Blanchett was exposed to a much broader audience when she appeared in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. She played the role of Galadriel in all three films. In 2006, she starred in Babel opposite Brad Pitt, The Good German with George Clooney and Notes on a Scandal opposite Dame Judi Dench. Blanchett received her third Academy Award nomination for her performance in the film.

In 2007, she won the Volpi Cup Best Actress Award at the Venice Film Festival and the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe Award for portraying one of six incarnations of Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’ feature film I’m Not There and reprised her role as Elizabeth I in the sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

At the 80th Academy Awards Blanchett received two Academy Award nominations; Best Actress for Elizabeth: the Golden Age and Best Supporting Actress for I’m Not There, becoming the eleventh actor to receive two acting nominations in the same year and the first female actor to receive another nomination for the reprisal of a role.

She next starred in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as the villainous KGB agent Col. Dr. Irina Spalko.

Blanchett’s husband is playwright and screenwriter, Andrew Upton, whom she met while she was performing in a production of The Seagull. They were married on 29 December 1997 and have three sons: Dashiell John, Roman Robert, and Ignatius Martin.


a word

What is the Foley credit in film making?
“Foley” is the reproduction of everyday sounds for use in film making. These reproduced sounds can be anything from the swishing of clothing and footsteps to squeaky doors and breaking glass. The best Foley art is so well integrated into a film that it goes unnoticed by the audience, yet helps to create a sense of reality within a scene. Without these subtle, crucial background noises the movie would feel unnaturally quiet and uncomfortable.
Jack Foley began what is now known as Foley art. He had started working with Universal Studios in 1914, during the silent movie era. When Universal needed to get on the “talkies” band wagon, in 1927, Foley became part of the sound crew. Because the microphones used for filming could not pick up more than dialogue, other sounds had to be added in after the film was shot. Foley and his small crew would project the film on a screen while recording a single track of audio that would capture their live sound effects in real time. Their timing had to be perfect so that footsteps and closing doors would sync with the actors motions in the film.
Much of Foley’s methods are still employed today though today sounds do not have to be recorded live on a single track of audio. They can be captured, or electronically produced, on individual tracks and then precisely synced with their visual counterpart.


Word

The word for today is “GAFFER”.

A gaffer in the motion picture industry is the head of the electrical department. They are responsible for the execution of the lighting plan for a production.  An experienced gaffer can coordinate the entire job of lighting, including designing the lighting plan. The job is both technical and creative.

The name derives from the early days of film when they were shot mostly in natural light. Filming stages had canvas roofs and the natural light was controlled and directed by moving large tent cloths, to let in more or less light, using long poles called gaffs.  In 16th Century English, the term “gaffer” denoted a man who was the head of any organized group of labourers.  So the gaffer is the person in charge of men with long poles.  Not quite.

Given knowledge of the time of day and conditions to be portrayed the gaffer will manage all the resources needed, from electrical generators, lights, cable, and rigging to manpower. Gaffers are responsible for knowing how to gel the lights or windows (cover with coloured plastic sheeting) to achieve a variety of effects, such as bringing the dawn as night passes into day. They can re-create the flicker of light as a subway car goes through the station, or the motion of light inside an airplane banking across the sky.

Sometimes the gaffer is titled in the credits as Chief Lighting Technician.

The gaffer works with the director of photography (DP) or, in television, the Lighting Director (LD). The DP/LD is responsible for the overall lighting design, but they may give a little or a lot of latitude to the gaffer on these matters, depending on their working relationship. The gaffer also works closely with the key grip, who is in charge of some of the equipment related to the lighting.  And the gaffer will usually have an assistant called a best boy. Other members of the lighting crew are called ‘electricians’ though some may have no electrician knowledge or training and may do things like set up stands or move cables.


Back

I’m not big on moving, haven’t been since the ’70s. Well everything is moved, but not unpacked yet. Other than having the drawing table in the right place all else is lost in the turmoil. But hey I said I’d be back.

Working on some writing for a May submission, got some stuff on the drawing table needs to be ready for June. Summer is coming, trying to line up some showings, we’ll see. Now if I could just find my pen and pencils.

Well all I’ve got in art is that we had to check that the computers are all working. So we dug out the DaVinci Code DVD. Without getting into the politics I found it was quite a good movie. I am of course highly prejudiced in that I think Tom Hanks is an incredible actor and Ron Howard is an incredible director. That said, it boils down to a well directed, well acted vision of an interesting story.

Dan Brown has a good formula. Pick a subject that is not easily penetrated due to remote location, unaccessability, lost in history, etc. Set up a psycho, but don’t let on it’s the main man. Make it all happen in a short timeframe. If this is even moderatly well written it can be a rollercoaster page turner; and being compressed time makes it perfect for movie rights. I should try this, not this week though.

Not only does moving scramble your possesions, but it can shake loose something out of your past. Just got an email from a young lady I knew; well she was a young lady when I knew her, and there has been a bit of time passed since then. Hello Kathleen.


Posted in Art, Film. 1 Comment »

more art of film

OK “The Bucket List” is an old movie, but it’s still in the theatre. Go see it.

In order to evaluate or judge something you need a measure to gauge against. For film I have Casablanca(directed by Michael Curtiz, who manages to get the most Bogie out of Bogart) at the top of the all time list with Road to Perdition(directed by Sam Mendes) as the Modern yardstick. Those who might argue the ‘Die Hards’ or the ‘Terminators’ at the top miss the point; I’m talking about serious filmmaking not slapstick.

The Bucket List
Directed by Rob Reiner

Jack Nicholson

Morgan Freeman

Sean Hayes

Beverly Todd

Here Nicholson displays probably his broadest range(in drama) as an actor. Not to slight his substantial comedic abilities. From his torment under chemotherapy, through his adventure of life, to the look on his face when the little girl smiles at him; this man can act. Even his signature phsyco makes a brief appearance in the boardroom “It’s just a question, Have any of you read The Divine Comedy?”

That Morgan Freeman holds his own opposite Jack, and gets in some of his own licks, is testament to his talents. His scene with Rowena King(Angelica) is pivotal and so poignant. The consideration that passes across his face is one of the finer acting lessons you could get.

The support by Sean Hayes and Beverly Todd, brilliant.

John Schwartzman’s cinematography so nice to look at. For instruction note his use of focus and choice of camera position.

I’d like to comment on the soundscape(Marc Shaiman and Stephen Bashaw), but it was so integrated I was transported by it without notice.

It is truely a shame Hollywood does not recognize the potential audience for real film making. But then the pantheon of directors(working today) of this caliber; Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Rob Reiner, and that kid Peter Jackson, is so small.


The Art of film.

Lions for Lambs:

Robert Redford – director, actor
Meryl Streep – actor
Tom Cruise – producer, actor
Michael Pena – actor
Derek Luke – actor
Andrew Garfield – actor
Matthew Michael Carnahan – writer

Redford’s latest directoral effort (last in 2000: Bagger Vance) is a subject clearly close to his heart; and something he wanted to bring close to you. I don’t actually recall a film that made such extensive and involving use of close-up. It more than brings you into the action, it brings you into the conversation.
As an actor he brings all his years on that side of the camera with him. Depth without histrionics and gesticulation. And with the nuance of Claude Rains asking Humphrey Bogart “So Rickie, what were you planning to do with those letters of transit?” (not really dialogue from Casablanca)

Kudos to Andrew Garfield who holds his own quite well against this.

The characters played by Michael Pena and Derek Luke are what this is film all about. They make what could so easily have been played shallowly and hackneyed a little jewel of optimism glinting in the cold darkness of war. Duty and honor.

Meryl Streep, what can I say. Always superb, even in something as stupid as Adaptation (2002 with Nicolas Cage). Here she is the representation of what used to be called “the screeching liberal press” only nearly completely co-opted by the ‘buckocracy’ and now sinking into a silenced menopause. Any aspiring actor should study each scene with Streep, particularly one in the middle of the interview with Senator Jasper Irving. Emotion plays across her face so kaleidoscopically you almost hear the gears in her head grinding and stripping as she starts to realize what the senator is saying, and doing, to her.

Cruise has grown so much as an actor since Risky Business and Color of Money I think he can’t be the same person, but he is. Rarely has there been presented such a tight, precisely polished, pile of slime as Cruise portrays Senator Jasper Irving. This is not a stereotype of a politician this is THE archetype.

Set decoration, by Leslie Pope, places the characters in a deep environment that flits and flutters around the edges of the close-ups.

Mark Isham’s score weaving behind builds an emotional undercurent that makes this a rather dark film for one mostly set in daylit offices.