An authoritative “SILENCE ON SET”
Rumbling sound of a jet engine
Frustrated “HOLD FOR PLANE”
nods from the DP and Mixer to the director
“SILENCE ON SET” with fake renewed energy
A stranger walks up to the camera person and asks what they are filming completely unaware that the silence of the crew means they are filming at that moment. Misreading the crew’s sudden vulnerable appearance as an invitation to walk up to them. In reality, they feel as though they are in a nightmare where they are forced to watch their attacker get closer and closer while their own fear silences them. It is the fear of being the first person to break the silence on set to stop the intruder. So they let the intruder do it.

Deep breaths sound from the crew as frustration mounts. The director calls “CUT” with an extra twang in her voice coming off like buttery salt mixed together. She takes a moment to bask under the starry gaze of the outsider. The person apologizes profusely and continues on their merry way.
The AD comes out in front of the camera to focus the slate. “SOUND SPEEDING”, “CAMERA SPEEDING”, “MARK”, the scene number and take number are called out. The director silences the set, then calls “ACTION” again as a burst of wind rolls through.

The sound person hears it, considers calling it out, but decides that not much dialogue was affected. Then hopes there will be at least one more take, which there usually is. So, they stay silent about the wind damage.

The director takes a moment to decide to keep going as if that wind didn’t happen. She looks around to see the boom has a dead cat on it to reduce wind sound. She remembers the talent is laved under their clothes. Even if clothing sounds are an issue, wind won’t be. She thinks the defeat of perfection thought, “we can fix it in post” and her concerns move on.

The irony of silence is that while the film industry is on hold due to the Corona Virus, planes are not flying, people are generally staying home, and less and less cars are on the streets. So this is a great time to shoot an indie film for great sound.

In my world, the boom operator does the lav-ing. As a female lav-er, women are always appreciative that I’m also a female, especially when I’m placing my lav between their breast. Yes. Breast do hold my invisi-lavs securely with the double sided guey goo I put on the silicone.

There have been times when I’ve looked at the tight, bare mid-drift outfit, an actress is poured into and wondered how I would hide the black chord of the wireless transmitter, much less the transmitter itself.

Usually the actress has been lav-ed so many times she has a suggestion to help. As we work together to bandaid, surgically tape, and goo on the components to hidden crevices on her body, then thread the wire up through inconspicuous folds and seems in her outfit, often I hear how grateful she is that I didn’t use gaff tape.

Well, sometimes I have to pull out the gaff tape too. One time the outfit was transparent white, so I used white gaff tape to obscure the black transmitter and chord.

Men with hairy chests have it much worse if they are not wearing a button shirt or a tie. I’ll gladly bury my lav in between buttons or in the knot of a tie. I’ve found surgical tape and bandaids to be less painful on chest hair than the goo.

Sweating turns out to be a saving grace for a man with a hairy chest because my lav just slides off no matter how much sticky I have applied. In that case I just keep re-lav-ing and hoping for the best.

With either sex, I always feel a bit funny saying, “I need to lav you”, or “let me turn you on”, or “do you get lav-ed in this scene?”

As a boom operator and mixer, I wear the headphones to the mixer so if I have them on, I can hear the laved talent talking. Sometimes, they send me funny messages and develop quite a repore with me. So, in my quiet world I stand in the corner chuckling at the jokes coming my way.

Oh, and when I’m standing there with my boom, waiting for camera to finish the final touches on lighting etc. I feel as though my boom could be a Gandalf staff, or maybe if I dressed up like death for Halloween I could use my boom to look like Death.death-grim-reaper copy

Peter Tscherasky used a technique called Cinemascope when filming Outer Space (1999). Cinemascope involves using a special lens that compresses the image, then uses projection to widen the image. He uses other collage techniques to alter the live action film, The Entity directed by Sidney J. Furer.

Outer Space is a live action horror film obscured by a black hazy matt that has holes in it to control our vision of the scene. While the glimpses of her indicate her increasing terror through the expressions we are able to see, it is not completely obvious, without a doubt, what kind of film it is. And I seem to need that confirmation, during several moments. So when the woman’s face is fragmented in post production, and the film takes on more distortion, the narration seems to hasten. The quickening of the pace felt through the effects tells more about the horror the woman experiences than what we are able to see of the underlying film.

Because of the duplication and fragmenting of her image, it is not certain that the effects themselves are not the monster she fears. Yet, we also know from experience that we are watching found footage, that is mostly likely horror.

The film is in black and white giving a noir appearance. Already at the start of the film the black haze that only reveals parts of her face, hands, and environment, builds a tension because it plays with curiosity, persistence, suspense, and tension.

I would say that this is a perfect technique for creating tension and working with horror.

The Quay Brothers and Jan Svankmajer engage in fabrication, the creation of a meta-reality of inanimate objects. Because of this their work falls into a surreal aesthetic where the objects are given a life beyond their normal use and yet, a life that is nothing really beyond the materiality of the object is comprised of.

In Wikipedia, the Quay Brothers apparently claim that they discovered Jan Svankmajer’s work after they had started working with inanimate, objects, puppets, dolls, and various parts. Strangely, both, seem to be fascinated by the dingy underbelly of the discarded by-products of materialisation, and spaces that are forgotten, and overlooked. The However, The Cabinet of Jan Svankmejer, is clearly nodding to the Czeck animator.

Jan Svankmejer is known for using fabrication, sped up stop motion, and in the afterlife of objects. The Jabberwocky deals with a child’s playroom and the imagined life of the objects a child would give them. The Cabinet of Jan Svankmejer contains childhood references, such as games and experiments on bugs (~9:23-~10:29). Earlier on in the animation at ~3:49 sped up stop motion brings us closer to the scene where the book-head creature and the child meet. The child, a doll, lays down its head to have its stuffing taken out and top of its head taken off, much like a child would do to a doll, which is one of Jan’s themes (3:52). At 4:04 other toy objects come out of the child’s head and are animated, which is a fabrication very much like Jan Svankmejer.

The editor uses a lot of long shots that contain pans, and follow focus shots, which gives the edit a fluid feeling, almost like a dance.

The edit is slower paced. The editor even keeps a shot uncut that they each walk in and out of creating a relaxed feeling and pace. Walter’s and Phyllis’s voice has a lackadaisical tone and dialogue which goes with this slower paced edit.

I counted 26 cuts and 18 different setups. There are 4 different tunes used in this scene. They each use strings and woodwinds. The first is the intro tune that plays very low for a while, then changes to a faster paced tune when Walter is walking into the living room.

As he is observing the fish and pictures, another tune comes in, then when they are talking just voices can be heard. At the end, as he is leaving another tune plays. I could not tell if this is different parts of the same song or completely different compositions altogether.

The slower pacing and immediate fluid feeling give the impression that Walter and Phyllis are kindred spirits who have just met for the first time. Then later when she asks about “accident” insurance, a plot starts to form.

Her pacing give the impression that she is plotting something.

Later, his resilience to her rejection lets us know he’ll be around for awhile. This scene is a nice intro paragraph for the movie.

This intro sets the stage for where things started and where they end up all in a mere 25 cuts and 19 setups.

This scene uses three non-diegetic tunes plus diegetic sound effects, foley, hard effects, ambience, and two instances of theatrical dialogue.

The editor starts off by spending more time than usual on the sweet imagery of flowers, sweeping down them, then off to the classically perfect-too perfect-fire-truck-that-never-reallydoes-this, passing by.

This sets the stage for the surreal flavor of the film. The pacing continues to be sickening sweetly slow. The music is accompanied by the atmospheric sound of birds and seems flowery perfect as if the singer is speaking about a happy woman in a sweet blue velvet dress, as the title of the movie is brought to our attention through the song that creates an image composed of assumptions in our minds.

Then we see more flowers, and school children. But strangely, the traffic attendant looks a little flat as the fade into the man watering the lawn happens. The editor, Duwayne Dunham, was likely dealing a few logistical issues die to budget. I see this with the cuts at the end and especially with the final cut into the beetles devouring something.

The music and ambience continues throughout the scene to be the most prominent sounds. The slow pace and sweet imagery has the effect of perfection and happiness, almost too much so. It makes us feel like this film can go one of two ways, it can stay sweet or it can diverge. Once the man watering the yard is introduced, we hear more diegetic sound creeping in with the water hose making us more aware of reality.

Then we see his wife inside a darkened room sipping from a coffee cup, in her peaceful life, watching someone wielding a gun on tv. Inside, we only hear the song, but when we return to the man outside the atmosphere joins back up with the song again. We seem to think this is his wife and know that she likes to watch dark subject matter which speaks to a darkness inside of her.

We then go back to the man outside. Now if he had just gone over there to loosen the hose instead of jerking it like he did… Well, here the editing speeds up back and forth to the hose and then back to the man watering, then the kink and the hose and back to the man watering. A false tension is created with quick editing gearing the audience for some final interaction between the man and the hose.

All the while the first song is playing but the diegetic sound of the water spray and destabilized faucet is creeping through more and more and I do believe the tune is turned down a wee bit. A hard effect is added to magnify the sound of the faucet becoming unstable. Foley hose water spraying is added as well to account for the persistent of sound even as we get further from the man. These sound effects further bring us out of the fog of perfection, hinting that this film will diverge from the sweetness into something darker, how dark, we do not yet know.

The quickened pace of this edit has taken us from a lulled feeling to anticipation. It turns out the hose is not the cause of the event or climax of the situation.

Instead the man suffers a stroke. One of life’s dark unfortunate coincidences is exposed through the play with causality the editor makes happen by building tension with an unrelated sequence of events. The edit slows down letting us see the man fall; the dog lick the water; the baby walk toward the man; all beautiful imagery.

There is no dialogue, apart from the man’s moan of pain as he is having a stroke and the dog’s barking. These voices are theatrical. Hearing the man in pain, then the dog happily barking in the same setting further presses the point about how dark things can reside next to seemingly happy ones.

The slower edit allows the audience to feel like they are on steady ground again and allows them to absorb the essence of what is or has just happened in the film so far. Then the editor takes us into the grass where the sound changes and we hear a hard effect something like the jungle with knives as blades of grass sharpening as we pass them on our way to the underbelly.

The dark underbelly of our existence, the underside of what we walk on, the stuff of the night, of the dirty and dark; beetles wrestling over food. Like the side of humans we try to sweep under the carpet but just can’t keep totally hidden. Before we get to the beetles the soundscape changes, a second tune is introduced and the title track disappears.

The second tune is eerie. Then we hear beetles diegetic sound, possibly hard effect added in, with the eerie tune low in the background. We end with a third tune once the final image of the billboard appears. However, it is just the music we hear.

This edit uses slow pacing to show a surreal perfect lovely peaceful existence, then uses fast pacing to build tension, then slows again to ease us into the life of the film. All the while there are opposing images placed next to one another to give us insight into the inner darkness of the characters in the film. Based on this edit, this film is clearly going to be dealing with the underside of humanity.

Persona by Ingrid Bergman contains 50 cuts. The montage incorporates tonal montage, overtonal montage, metric montage, rhythmic montage, contrasting sound. I believe some of the footage is found.

In the first cut we start in darkness then light is gradually shed on the projector and parts. This technique gives the impression of a new cut, but is in fact, just a tonal shift in frame. It also gives the effect of action in the otherwise still frame.

Then we cut to the film running through the projector and that is moving fast. The quick motion of the film is matched by a pair of hands moving quickly in a meaningless gesture mimicking something.

The next few cuts which bring us closer and closer to the animated image on the screen, which maintains the pacing the projector set. Then the image freezes on the animation in the next cut.

The quick metric is picked up again by the leader on the screen for a second and the next cut is a blown out unidentifiable image.

After that we are taken to an old fashioned looking super 8 film. The nature of the super 8 film has that same metric. White frames are used as resting spots between sections of the film: Before the super 8 film, after the super 8 film, before the man nailing his hand, before the spider, before the lamb, before the elderly man’s chin.

This combination rhythm and metric montage is used most heavily in the beginning, then slows to non-existent by the end. From the beginning to now, the tone of the images is lightening, yet there is still stark contrast and crunched blacks. The super 8 is not different.

After the man hammering a nail in his hand the image begins to lighten next with the slaughter of the lamb and the spider. Everything is slowing down too. The quick metric is transitioning to nearly still.

The rhythm of the cuts is becoming longer. The tone is becoming lower contrast. Since the beginning, the image has not changed tone within a cut. The image of the lamb bleeding is held, then a quick cut to the organs.

At this point the rhythm has been fairly steady with a few moments of quickened pace set by shorter cuts. But the pacing has been heavily the job of the metric montage element. The sound in this film gives it a darker overtone.

We hear the sound of the lamb being chopped while our eyes rest on a white frame. The tone of the sound is bright, yet the pacing goes from fast to slow like tip toes running to a hiding spot, then suspenseful drawn out notes follow, giving a mysterious quality to the otherwise happy tune.

The beat or rhythm of the the tune is nearly absent, since it is changing or even silent at moments. This is a modern composition. When watching Persona with the sound off, I don’t get the dark overtone despite the spider, nailed hand, and slaughter of the lamb.

The ending with the lower contrast images of possibly dead-like people seem more peaceful. Overall, the film has a coldness to it. The overtone montage on this piece has the spirit of mystery, darkness, peacefulness, and loneliness. Persona, image, film, pictures, looking in on someone from a screen — this must have been a cold lonely world.

Then race was also a theme. There was a feeling of being trapped in ones lot in life theme. This was highlighted by the Collector scene we saw Anne act in.

I think he chose this approach to emphasize the tunnel vision perspective of the character highlighted in each scene.

There is a theme of looking at the lives of minorities, the Algerians, and Africans. I was surprised by the treatment of the Amadou by the police because black racism is very American and not usually thought of as happening in France–at least in my experience. However, I have spent quite a bit of time in France and have witnessed the tension between the Arabs and the French; I’ve even been on the receiving end of an Arab’s agression. My friends had to explain I was American and didn’t understand him to ease his frustration. So, watching the Arab guy harass Anne Laurent on the train was a familiar scene. On the other side, obviously France needs to be more sensitive to the multicultural communities living withing the melting pot of Paris. The mix is what makes Paris so beautiful.

So besides minority suffering there is a reflection of the other side of society and its suffering. I would say that the child being tortured upstairs from Anne, and the younger brother of Georges who seems to have problems are indicators of bourgeois suffering. Also, Anne has personal problems dealing with wanting children and Georges not being there when she needs him, as we witnessed in the grocery store. These problems seem minute in comparison with the problems of the minorities, who deal with poverty, wrongful accusations, and police brutality.

In many ways the characters are all very similar. I don’t see that Anne is more together than the Algerian lady, whose name I think is Maria. The difference is that Anne has a career that she makes it in whereas the Algerian lady does not. As people, they could be equally successful. Georges and his younger brother may not be near as noble of heart as Amadou and his family yet, they have less problems with the police and other bias.

The characters intertwine at the beginning and then go on about their separate lives. This serves to make a comparison between the differences in their disparate lives. Most ensemble films I’ve seen show the separate lives of people who eventually intertwine. This film has the opposite structure.

I notice manipulation when it occurs. Certainly music guides my emotions, or at least the ones I’m supposed to have during a scene. I do find it a bit irritating to be manipulated. In the movie The Butler, which was awesome, by the way, I did feel emotionally manipulated. I was aware that my emotional strings were often pulled. I felt that way when I was reading The Kite Runner and at first called the novel junk fiction putting it in the same class as The Da Vinci Code. Since then I’ve re-assessed my judgment on what is junk fiction. Nonetheless, if I am distinctly aware that my strings are being pulled, and possibly of the exact mechanism pulling them, there does seem to be a criticism to be made. So this is the same for horror movies and others where the viewer is aware of being manipulated.

When we stop thinking about the movie and move onto another, then the movie is over.

–ties something up, leaves something purposely hanging, but is thoughtful and well executed, also well timed=satisfying ending

Two specific scenes that conform to traditional Hollywood narrative patterns are:

  • When Bobby meets the person he has been chatting with on the computer in real life and it is the curator. Then once the curator pecks him, she walks off. All questions are anwered about her, and enough for the time being, about him. The context is super strange, but I think it was handled in a normative hollywood fashion.
  • The two sex obsessed highschool girls interactions are somewhat fully realized narrative entities in that we get what they are about. Their interactions have follow through and we see their inside discussions and plans so there isn’t really any mystery about what they are about.

Two specific scenes that deviate from traditional hollywood narrative patters are:

  • The fact that the two sons are more estranged from their father than their mother even though they spend less time with their mother. Their silent treatment baffles me.
  • The older brothers role in introducing the chatroom to his little brother.

I think July’s overall goal for this film is to show the importance of romance, love, and sexual personhood to each and every person. People are much happier when they have fulfilled that side of their lives.

I think that she sometimes leaves things in an awkward break because it serves to emphasis the particular state of a person’s sexual path or self. for example, the little girl obsessed with her hope box is an unrealized sexual person. However, she is working on becoming realized in her own way as she fills her hope chest.

Since this film has controversial scenes in it, I think that conforming to the Hollywood Classic narrative patterns helps people to swallow those scenes in the intended way. This helps to leave nothing too up for miss-interpretation. At the same time, July does not stuff the obvious down viewers’ throats with too much information. She reaches a nice balance between the two patterns of narration she uses in this film.

I think he chose this approach to emphasize the tunnel vision perspective of the character highlighted in each scene.

French film, to me, has always had an emphasis on character development. I’ve watched films that manipulated me into rooting for the worst person on earth and feeling like I understood how they could be that bad. The particular film I’m thinking of was later banned and now I cannot find a reference to the title or anything. So, sorry for the lack of title. It showed in the 90’s. But it was definitely a very interesting introduction to French film.

This film, in many ways, is similar to the film I refer to above because the main character starts out ordinary and becomes despicable. While I was desturbed by my the banned film, and am dissappointed by the main character in L’Argent, I do not relate to how Yvonne could make the choices he has made. Because of the stylistic choices Bresson makes I was not attached to any of the characters. The seemed sometimes mis-casted because they were all model-like in looks. But even if I can accept their lack of texture, they rehearsed their lines without emotion–just matter of fact-like. This isn’t to say there was no emotion because there was. I felt the loss Yvonne felt when his wife left, and her reasons for leaving were justified. Her worry about his new job as a driver of sorts was clear. Yvonne’s anger at Lucienne was clear and his torment about the direction of his life seemed evident. However, with each decision he made there was an internal world that led to his making that decision that the audience was completely denied. We did not see him cry or cringe, or try to do something different and fail, such as is the usual way we are let in on the internal life of a character.

The way this film was shot to just show the pertinent nugget of each action or interaction takes the “show don’t tell” of filmmaking to a more extreme level. Watching this film was much like reading Neuromancer by William Gibson, where readers often need to orient themselves because the imagery available challenges that particular threshold for keeping your reader or viewer completely informed. In many ways, this is the ultimate tribute to a viewer that says “I think you are intelligent enough to follow along without the added reinforcements”, which I can appreciate.

In the end, I’m left thinking about the decisions Yvonne made and am frankly dissappointed in him. This is ultimately because I could not follow his internal process. I see the wrong doings made to him and his lack of voice on each occasion. I can see how noone helped him and at some point wondered if he had family somewhere. He seemed utterly alone, existentially alone. There was talk of God forgiving him and others pardoning him, but in the end his character became what it was because of experiences he had in his life.