Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Boy and his Camera

Something happens when you bring out a motion picture camera to both those in front of the camera and those of us on the other side. Anyone who has seen a home movie knows what happens when the camera appears- your inner ham comes out. Even professional actors have their on-camera personality and know how and when to turn it on and off.

Something similar happens on the other side of the camera too. In Victimless Crimes about half of my cast gets killed and the other half does the killing. This means I had to film lots of shooting, strangling and stabbing. These scenes- which in another film I would watch through my fingers- just seemed like work. When a take was over I would say let's do it again and the actor who had been shot or stabbed changed his clothes, put on new squibs (exploding blood packs) and an hour or so later we did it again. This went on all night.

My point is that as a filmmaker you shoot until you get what you need and the camera gives me confidence I don't have in my regular life.

While shooting a TV commercial for OFF, the mosquito repellent, we had to make a ten-year old boy stick his arm into a transparent box full of mosquitos and hold it there, still, for 30 seconds. He did and he got bitten and there were tears and I felt like Hell but it was the job and we had to do it. (He was wearing the "other leading brand" which wasn't as good as OFF, but he was well compensated and his parents knew what they signed up for.)

Today, Jim and I are wrapping up a documentary about teen parents and I sit opposite these young woman and ask them very personal, very probing questions about choices they made (or in some cases didn't make) . It's not something I would do if the camera wasn't there and I have to get into another mindset in order to do it, but again it is part of the job. I am always surprised when they open up and start revealing themselves to me. The power of the camera is really working for me in these instances.

Now I need to remember the next time I ask for a raise to bring a camera with me. No one can say no to a boy and his camera.



Scripty said...

I recently finished working on a low-budget horror film (which is scary in itself) What I found most humorous during filming was that the actors LOVED it when they got all done up in the bloody makeup and looked ghastly! They couldn’t take enough pictures of themselves in the make-up.

csbaron said...
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csbaron said...

I gain almost supernatural confidence when I am behind the camera. My camera has taken me places that I would never have gone without it, whether it is in the sewers of Denver with a heroin addict or standing in front on a crowd of thousands. It is a fascinating phenomenon.