Click here to Download Making movies PDF Book by Sidney Lumet English having PDF Size 1.7 MB and No of Pages 196.
The entrance to the Ukrainian National Home is on Second Avenue between Eighth and Ninth streets in New York City. There’s a restaurant on the ground oor. The odor of pierogi, borscht, barley soup, and onions hits me as soon as I walk in. The smell is cloying but pleasant, even welcoming, especially in the winter.
Making movies PDF Book by Sidney Lumet
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The rest rooms are downstairs, always reeking of disinfectant, urine, and beer. I go up a ight of stairs and walk into an enormous room the size of a small basketball court. It has colored lights, the inevitable revolving mirrored ball, and a bar along one wall, behind which are stacked sound ampliers in their suitcases.
Empty cartons, boxes of plastic garbage bags. Setups are also sold here. Stacks of folding chairs and tables are piled along the walls. This is the ballroom of the Ukrainian National Home, where loud, stomping accordion-accompanied dances are held on Friday and Saturday nights.
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Before the breakup of the USSR, there would be at least two “Free the Ukraine” meetings held here every week. The room is rented out as often as possible. And we have now rented it for two weeks to rehearse a movie. I’ve rehearsed eight or nine movies here.
I don’t know why I feel like this, but rehearsal halls should always be a little grungy. Two production assistants are nervously awaiting me. They’ve started the coee machine. In a plastic box, amid ice cubes, are containers of juice (freshly squeezed), milk, and yogurt.
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On a tray, bagels, Danish, coee cake, slabs of wonderful rye bread from the restaurant downstairs. Long Day’s Journey Into Night: I must stop here. I don’t know what the theme is, other than whatever idea is inherent in the title. Sometimes a subject comes along and, as in this case, is expressed in such great writing, is so enormous.
So all-encompassing, that no single theme can dene it. Trying to pin it down limits something that should have no limits. I am very lucky to have had a text of that magnitude in my career. I found that the best way to approach it was to ask, to investigate, to let the play tell me.
A certain amount of this goes on in every good piece of work, of course. With Prince of the City, I had no idea how I felt about the leading character, Danny Ciello, until I saw the completed picture. With Serpico, I was constantly ambivalent about his character. He was such a pain in the ass sometimes. Making movies PDF Book
Always kvetching. Al Pacino made me love him, not the scripted character. The Seagull is totally ambivalent about behavior. Everyone is in love with the wrong person. The teacher Medvedenko loves Masha who loves Konstantin who loves Nina who loves Trigorin who belongs to Arkadina who is really loved by Dr. Dorn who is loved by Paulina.
But none of this prevents them each from having their own dignity and pathos, despite their seeming foolishness. The ambivalence is a source of exploring each character in greater and greater depth. Each person is like all of us. But in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, no one is like any of us.
The characters are on a downward spiral of epic, tragic proportions. To me, Long Day’s Journey dees denition. One of the nicest things that ever happened to me happened on that picture: the last shot. The last shot of the movie is of Katharine Hepburn, Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards, and Dean Stockwell sitting around a table. Making movies PDF Book
Each is lost in his or her own addictive fantasy, the men from booze, Mary Tyrone from morphine. A distant lighthouse sweeps its beam across the room every forty-ve seconds. The camera pulls back slowly, and the walls of the room gradually disappear.
Soon the characters are sitting in a black limbo, getting tinier and tinier as the light sweeps across them. The greatest pressure in moviemaking is when you know that you’ve got only one take to get the shot. This happened on Murder on the Orient Express. Picture the following: We are in this enormous shed in a railway yard just outside Paris.
Inside the shed stands a panting, snorting six-car train. A whole train! All mine! Not a toy train! A real train! It has been assembled from Brussels, where the Wagon-Lits Company keeps its old cars, and from Pontarlier in the French Alps, where French National Railways keeps its old engines. Making movies PDF Book
We have built a set of the Istanbul railroad station in London, transported it to Paris, and erected it in the shed, so that the shed has become the Istanbul terminal of the Orient Express. Three hundred extras are assembled on the “train platform” and in the “waiting room.”
The shot is as follows: The camera is on the Nike, a sixteen-foot motor-driven camera dolly. It is in its low position. As the train starts toward us, the camera “dollies” forward to meet it and is at the same time being raised to about the middle of the train’s height, about six feet.
The train picks up speed coming toward us as we pick up speed coming toward the train. By the time the center of the fourth car has reached us, we have a full close-up of the Wagon-Lit symbol. It’s very beautiful, gold on a blue background. It lls the screen. Making movies PDF Book
As it passes us, we pan the camera to follow the Wagon-Lit symbol until we’ve turned one hundred eighty degrees and are facing in the opposite direction. We have now risen to the full height of the crane, sixteen feet, and we are shooting the train going away from us, getting smaller as it goes.
Finally, we see only the two red lights of the last car as the train disappears into the blackness of the night. Georey Unsworth, the brilliant British cinematographer, had taken six hours to light this enormous area. Four of our stars— Ingrid Bergman, Vanessa Redgrave, Albert Finney, and John Gielgud —were appearing in plays in London.
They nished their Saturday night performances, were own over to Paris Sunday morning, and had to be back in London for their shows on Monday. The shot had to be done at night, since there’s not much mystery and not nearly so much glamour in a train leaving a station in daylight. Making movies PDF Book Download
Besides, we had to vacate the shed for the French National Railways at 8:00 a.m. Monday. We couldn’t rehearse the shot even once, because Geo needed the train in place on the platform to light the whole scene. The end of the shed through which the train exited would be open to the exterior of the railway yards, with all modern Paris behind it.
Which was another reason we could have no daylight. Peter McDonald is the nest camera operator I have ever worked with. The camera operator actually turns the wheels that point the camera in any direction. There is also a focus puller; his job, obviously, is to keep focus.
But that’s not so easy when the camera is moving one way, the train is moving the other, and you’re going to pan the camera around on letters (“Wagon-Lit”), where it is very easy to see if the focus is not perfect. He’s working at a lens stop of 2.8, which makes the focus even more dicult. Making movies PDF Book Download
The star kept eliminating the unpleasant side of the character, trying to make him more lovable so that the audience would “identify” with him. That’s another misdirected cliche of movie writing. Chayefsky used to say, “There are two kinds of scenes: the Pet the Dog scene and the Kick the Dog scene.
The studio always wants a Pet the Dog scene so everybody can tell who the hero is.” Bette Davis made a great career kicking the dog, as did Bogart, as did Cagney (how about White Heat—is that a great performance or not?). I’m sure the audience identied with Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs as much as with Jodie Foster.
Otherwise there wouldn’t have been the roar of laughter that greeted the wonderful line “I’m having an old friend for dinner.” When I received yet another script of The Verdict, I reread Mamet’s version, which he’d given me months earlier. I said I would do it if we went back to that script. Making movies PDF Book Download
We did. Paul Newman read it, and we were o and running. Sometimes it’s the writer who turns out to be a complete whore. I was doing a movie that needed an articulate, crisp, cerebral delivery to make the dialogue of the leading character work. Another very big star had gotten hold of the script and wanted to do it.
I said to the writer that though the actor was terric, I wasn’t sure he could handle this kind of dialogue. The writer blanched when I said that I was going to ask the actor to read (i.e., audition) for me. I called the actor, told him that for both our sakes I thought it best if we read the script aloud.
We set a date. As I hung up the phone, the writer—who was also the producer on the picture—approached me with a mixture of awe and menace. The menace won out. In a voice that would’ve made a Maa don seem like an angel, the writer-producer said, “You know, if you turn him down, the studio just might want to get rid of you!” Making movies PDF Book Free
The writer- producer (we call it a hyphenate) was going to get that picture made, even at the cost of ruining what had been written. The actor read, agreed the part was wrong for him, and left with no hard feelings at all. In fact, we did another picture together some years later.
But I never worked with the writer again. When we did Network, Paddy Chayefsky knew what he wanted. After all the diculties in getting the picture OK’d, I knew he was in no mood for any rewrites demanded by stars. I’d heard, too, that Faye Dunaway could be dicult.
This turned out to be totally untrue. She was a seless, devoted, and wonderful actress.) As always, if there’s a potential problem, I like to bring it out in the open before we begin. So I made an appointment to see her. Crossing the oor of her apartment, before I’d even reached her, I said, “I know the rst thing you’re going to ask me: Where’s her vulnerability? Making movies PDF Book Free
Don’t ask it. She has none.” Faye looked shocked. “Furthermore, if you try to sneak it in, I’ll get rid of it in the cutting room, so it’ll be wasted eort.” She paused just a second, then burst out laughing. Ten minutes later I was begging her to do the part. She said yes.
She never tried to get sentimental in the part, and she took home an Academy Award. My point is that it’s so important to thrash these things out in advance. If push comes to shove, you can then say the obvious truth: “This is a script we both said yes to. So let’s do it.”
When we rst met, on Long Day’s Journey, she was living in John Barrymore’s former house in Los Angeles. I stepped through the doors of what seemed to me a fty-foot living room. She stood at the opposite end of the room and started toward me. We’d covered about half the distance when she said, “When do you want to start rehearsal?” Making movies PDF Book Free
No “Hello” or “How do you do?”) “September nineteenth,” I said. “I can’t start till the twenty-sixth,” she said. “Why?” I asked. “Because then,” she said, “you’d know more about the script than I would.” Funny, charming, but she meant it. It was perfectly all right with me if she knew more about the character.
After all, she was going to play it, and I had a lot of other things to think about. But the challenge was unmistakable, and I could see trouble down the road. The solution was to leave her alone. Though she had played great roles, nothing could compare with Mary Tyrone for psychological complexity, physical and emotional demand, and tragic dimension.
During the rst three days of rehearsal I said nothing to her about Mary Tyrone’s character. I talked at length with Jason, who’d played his part before, with Ralph and Dean, and of course we talked about the play. When we nished the run-through reading on the third day, there was a long pause. Making movies PDF Book Free
And then, from Kate’s corner of the table, a small voice called out, “Help!” From then on, the work was thrilling. She asked, she told, she fretted, she tried, she failed, she won. She built that character stone by stone. Something was still tight about the performance until the end of the second week.
There’s a moment in the script when her youngest son, trying to cut through her morphine haze, screams at her that he’s dying of consumption. I said, “Kate, I’d like you to haul o and smack him as hard as you can.” She started to say that she couldn’t do that, but the sentence died halfway out of her mouth.
She thought about it for thirty seconds, then said, “Let’s try it.” She hit him. She looked at Dean’s horried face, and her shoulders started to shake. She dissolved into the broken, frightened failure that was so important an aspect of Mary Tyrone. Making movies PDF Book Free