April 11, 1996

My script has been finished for a while, and I've been storyboarding it for the last month or so. A storyboard is a series of pictures of every shot in the movie, with information about where the shots occur in the script. Not everyone storyboards. Some directors find it a constricting practice, and shoot in such a way that they have a maximum number of options in the editing room. But, if you really care about the exact flow of images in your film, storyboarding is very helpful.

I tried to storyboard a tricky scene today, and couldn't come up with shots that made any sense. Finally I realized that there was a good reason that I couldn't plan the visuals: the scene was ill-conceived in the first place. I changed the way the characters moved in and out of rooms to make it more truthful, and eventually the order of the shots fell out. I'd tried about ten approaches, but when I had the right one I knew it immediately.

The irritating thing is that no one is ever going to notice my work on this problem. The end result is very simple: an alternation of medium shots of the two characters. To me, the scene felt hopelessly wrong when I used long shots, or put the two characters in the same frame more often, or went in for closeups. But the technique I wound up choosing is nearly invisible. And a lot of people don't care about that sort of thing anyway. Oh, well. To me, most of the emotional impact of a film comes from the simple decisions that you have to make every second: what goes in the frame, how you frame, when you change the shot.

The producers (Bill and Alex) and I are in the process of looking for actors. We've set up three audition times between April 22 and April 29, and we're circulating scripts to actors whom we've heard of through word of mouth. I hate auditioning more than any other aspect of filmmaking, because I hate telling actors that they haven't got the part. Every time I talk to an actor, I think about the potential unpleasantness of the rejection. This is not the most practical attitude for a filmmaker, but I think I'm stuck with it.

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