Our Film Education
Perry's Blog: October 3, 2014
One of the things that Jana, our screenwriter, Russ, our DP, and I, the director, did in our time together at my ranch this summer was to watch a slate of films, chosen mostly by me. I wanted us to have a common vocabulary of film experience, something gained together and agreed upon. It worked perfectly, I think, giving the three of us reference points for future discussions.
One film we watched together was Paul Newman’s Hud, one off my favorite films for many years. Going forward into our film, The Divide, we can talk about the sparse land the family lived on, the clarity of purpose behind each scene, and the breathtaking simplicity of Patricia Neal’s performance. Another film we watched is a new favorite for me, Frozen River. Again, we can all refer back to some of the great qualities of that film, and we will all understand the reference. Frozen River beautifully explores the drama of ordinary life. It will give the three of us a shorthand language of aspiration.
Russ asked us to watch The Cider House Rules – primarily to study the lighting – but of course that film, too, has some great qualities and memorable moments. Another film, chosen by me, will go unnamed, but it is a modern film, with some aspects similar to those of The Divide, and it is, in my opinion, a failure. I wanted Jana, Russ, and I to have that common experience as well, and a shorthand in place for what doesn’t work. It’s so hard to make a good movie, and no one ever sets out to make anything but a good one. We may fail, too, but it sure won’t be because we didn’t give it everything we’ve got.