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The making of No Way Back
You will be relieved to read that the above exchange did not
make it to the final cut of my World War 2 parody No Way Back. |
The dialogue is very loosely based on the 1953 film The Malta Story - a black and white, 4x3 film which featured Alec Guiness and Muriel Pavlow. Guiness, a celebrated actor of his time, often delivered his lines in a very impassive manner. No emotion could be seen to tremble the Stiff Upper Lip of the 1950s!
This technique works well in films - for it allows the audience to imprint their own interpretation of events onto the blank human canvas.
The Malta Story (when reviewed today) certainly has some contentious 'colonial moments'. The British occupiers are presented as superior to the luckless Maltese. It was this attitude which I thought I might mock in my satire, without, hopefully, causing further offense to the island race.
Comedy is dependent on a number of factors:
In No Way Back, I am playing both parts so the timing of the delivery of the lines would be irrelevant. The timing would have to come from the edit. As it turns out this is a simpler way of achieving conversational dialogue than asking two (amateur) actors to recall their lines in two or three takes. It is more effective to film over the shoulders of the two characters and cut back and forwards, closing the distance, as the conversation becomes more intense. You still need a master or key shot to set it all up but it is a more effective method of controlling the flow of dialogue at our level of film making.
I still managed to go wrong. I really thought that allowing a few degrees off the lens axis for me to read my script, which was pasted to a kitchen unit door, would go unnoticed. But it is uncanny how the viewer can pick up on the fact that you are not quite looking at the other character - that is if their hair or their coat is in frame. Once the camera is in tight close up this does not become a problem as long as you are on the correct axis.
I used my Pansonic Gh2 DSLR with a prime (and old) FD mount 50mm lens which I bought on ebay for £70. It looks great, gives me a very limited range of depth of field, and is also a flattering focal length for portraiture. (For aficionados of DSLRs, the Gh2 is almost 'half frame' so the 50mm behaves more or less like a 100mm telephoto lens.) The character Maria needed all the help she could get!
I recorded the audio separately with two Rode NTG1 Mics in to my ZOOM H4n recorder. I called out the file number on the ZOOM so both camera and the recording could be married up at the point where the character starts speaking. It is a bit of a pain, but usually I found the sync quite quickly by expanding the audio waveforms on the timeline. Once 'locked' I deleted the original GH2 recording from the timeline.(It's recoverable of course).
For lighting I had a soft box fill to my left and an umbrella spot for my eyes to the right and a high backlight.(I have a small halogen desk lamp which I tape to a stand.)
Comedy is usually funny only once... so I have 'loaded' nearly every line of the dialogue in an attempt to sustain interest - even after it has ceased to amuse!
All my films from the last four years are on my Vimeo Page.
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