Thought I’d add a few notes on this year’s theme. There may be some overlap here with Alastair and Mark’s posts but I guess there’s no harm in ramming home the message. Alors… Bergala’s take on staging situations in locations …. or how to inscribe a scene in a site with an integrity that reflects the relations between the elements?
There are 2 parts to STAGING (le mettre-en-scène):
a) the positioning and movement (la disposition) of elements/figures in a space including props, actors, decor, objects
and b) the shooting configuration (l’attaque) comprising choice of camera angle, distance, framing, axes (height and direction of elements including perspective) and lighting.
The other aspect of staging is SITUATION conceived as an interplay between location/setting, scene content and mood (site, scène, sentiment). Locations to be explored in the exercises will be specifically constrained (corridors, lifts, cars, doorways, stairs) where staging choices are limited or wide open (beach, park, wood, outdoors, large public buildings) where the options are endless. Scene content in the exercises should generate some kind of intense feeling which is mirrored by all the elements of the staging working in concert, rather than relying exclusively on the quality of the script and the acting.
Bergala stresses that there shouldn’t be any sense of chronology when considering the staging, as adjustments will be made on a continual basis to finally arrive at the best camera set up and arrangement of assets which creates ‘le bon moment’ in ‘le bon endroit’. The mise-en-scène might also be regarded as a way of managing intervals in a story. For example, there’s a discernible trail for the exposition of love interest in a story: the look, the encounter, (the masking/obscuring of the the object of desire), the touch, the kiss, all played out over intervals of varying lengths that can be crafted through skillful staging. Bergala points out how expensive filming can become when directors choose to linger over the intervals to gradually build the situation eg. Kate Winslet meeting Jim Carrey in ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’.
Other posts have covered the significance of staging in Coppola’s Tetro, and I would add a comment Bergala makes about constantly revisiting the same room with a new frame of reference – that there’s a sense of space contaminating itself as the various elements intermingle, evolve and gain history.