I went on Thursday to Katie Jones’s film club at St. Mark’s Primary in Holloway. They’re following Cinematheque Real/ Fiction. They came to BFI a fortnight ago to watch The Little Fugitive, which they seemed to have really enjoyed. Katie and I took them out in three groups to film Exercise 1 – the waiting scene. Here’s one take from each group. (Apologies about the names, folks – I didn’t write them down)
Maisha’s group went to a bus stop on Holloway Road. We noted a few things about all the waiting shots: like Julia’s group in Lincoln, the children noted how hard it is to act ‘waiting’ – all those exaggerated gestures about looking at watches, harrumphing, pacing up and down. We looked at the other characters in the busy bus stop scene; Terrell asked the most important and deep question: ‘how do we know who’s acting?’ There’s a whole can of exploration in here: I think we’re very adept as human beings in interpreting behaviour, knowing who’s faking and who isn’t. My friend Anton, the Drama PGCE tutor at the Institute, says that role is created by audience, as much – or more than – by the performer. It’s us who decides who’s acting, who’s central to a scene or a shot.
I’m going to go off and have a look for clips where characters appear amongst crowds. I remember being stuck by the opening scene of American Psycho – the book, not the film. You think you know who Patrick Bateman is going to be, from amongst a crowd of braying preppy bankers having dinner. But of course, he turns out to be the one you least expect. In Maisha’s scene we noticed the tall young man who was ever present in the scene – mostly on the left hand margin of the frame. What if the film were actually about him..?