Magazine article American Cinematographer

The Directors Viewfinder as a Communications Tool

Magazine article American Cinematographer

The Directors Viewfinder as a Communications Tool

Article excerpt

A director talks about the instrument that he finds invaluable in furthering his relationships with the cinematographers with whom he works and in planning and choreographing action and camera on the set

It often surprises me that we who make our living in the field of communications frequently fail to communicate well between ourselves. The making of any film-for television or theater-is a collective effort which usually involves well over a hundred professionals, all hopefully striving toward one goal-a successful production. How accurately and efficiently we communicate with each other often determines the extent of that production's success.

Directing for television especially, invariably adds the factor of an overly-tight shooting schedule to the problems of producing an aesthetically successful picture. What with continual rising production costs, efficiency in communication plays an ever increasing role in shooting the picture within studiodictated budgets, yet we must deliver to the producers a picture which will contribute positively to the ever-present television rating race.

Once the script goes before the cameras, I've found the relationship between the Director and the Cinematographer generally sets the pace for the picture-both in aesthetic approach and speed of execution. Many of the new tools we have to work with have been developed to aid in that execution; flexible lightweight cameras, highly portable lights and recorders, wireless microphones and the many new developments in compact equipment trucks and vans.

However, before this equipment can be put to use, the Director must plan the filming of his picture, keeping in mind the myriad factors which will come to bear upon the production. He must not only strive for quality and realistic dramatic interpretation, but also maintain the production schedule as well: Since the vast majority of sequences in most television films are now photographed on location rather than on studio sets, this new equipment has to be used to its fullest value, in order to contribute positively toward the successful filming of the project.

The greatest tool for me as a Director in choreographing the actors and camera angles before actual production begins, has always been the Director's Viewfinder. The viewfinder has also become, I feel, one of the greatest aids in my successful relationship with the Cinematographers with whom I work. …

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