After meeting up last night with film-maker Sam Lawlor and Chris Waugh from London Nautical School, we came up with a plan for our first 6 sessions, from early November until Christmas.
We want to follow the principle of setting the students similar problems to those that film-makers have to solve in ‘bringing the real into the fiction.’ We will start the first session by giving the students cameras and asking them straight away to do Exercise #1: shooting, from a fixed camera, 2 minute sequences in different public settings, where one character waits for another, who arrives in shot at some point during the 2 minutes. We thought of asking them to focus on how the real-ness of the setting, and surrounding people, infiltrates the story scenario. We wondered about creating small ‘interventions’ in the shot which run into the reality of the setting: maybe getting members of the public to respond to the characters in shot, or asking one of the characters to do something unexpected, or instructing them to think or behave in a particular way. Each scene would be shot twice, in different settings.
After reviewing the footage (‘what’s real in this scene? What’s fictional? What’s set up?) we’ll show them a clip that illustrates how a film-maker has followed similar rules. One good example is ‘Le Pain et la rue’, by Kiarostami:
The great thing about the opening few minutes (after the credit music stops) is how the boy is essentially just waiting.. for someone to help him, for the dog to go away. His behaviour is in some part real, and in some part directed. We could ask whether we can tell what is real, and what constructed in the scene.
We thought for the second week, watching some more clips – maybe from Boudu Saved from Drowning – where characters are presented in real spaces, and how their presence alters the reality around them. Ask again, what is real and what is fictional in the clips. And then try Exercise #1 again. We wondered about asking the students to choose some clips of their own beforehand that do the same job.
Week 3, follows Exercise #2: filming someone doing a real task – doing some washing up, tying their shoelaces etc, while another character, out of shot, tells them a story. Students have to film character 1 in such a way that shows the task they’re doing, but also shows how/ whether they’re paying attention to character 2. Plenty of clips to support this – from Du Cote d’Orouet, and Chris suggested a short called Mon Desir – which we’ll have to find.
Later weeks will focus on Exercise #3: filming a character wandering (déambule) in a public space, but into which is edited shots of a someone watching the scene: it’s an exercise in constructing point of view that changes the frame and context of the original footage.