CROSS OF IRON: "DEMARCATION!"
I begin---or more accurately--resume shooting my new movie "Stano" which stars Joe Mangianello and Sofia Vergara tomorrow, Monday August 21. I say resume because we filmed four days of work a few weeks ago before shutting down for three more weeks of prep. This work stoppage was, fortunately, part of a bigger plan and not an accidental detour of the sort that all too often happens in the making of an independent film. We needed to shoot out most of Sofia Vegara's material in order to make room for her TV commitments. Thus our twenty-six day movie has twenty-two days of photography left ahead of us. Capishe?
Nonetheless it really does feel like we're beginning a new movie and thus the attendant pre-shoot anxiety has already ruined much of the day. But this always happens to me (I suspect I'm not the only director who experiences this syndrome) and over the years I've developed a way to deal with it. Basically I spend the day watching sequences of films that have inspired me over the years, even if they're not necessarily pertinent to the movie I'm making. It's a way of getting jacked to go back to the exhausting but addictive work of shooting a picture and approaching it with the same vigor and enthusiasm that I had when I was a kid with a Super 8mm camera. I've posted one of these sequences above. It's the brilliantly shot and edited "demarcation" sequence from Sam Peckilnpah's 'Cross Of Iron'. Whenever somebody asks me what a director really does, I steer them toward this sequence and tell them that, as scripted, the scene took up one and half pages. Peckinpah took the bare bones description of the action and developed it into a masterful, heartbreaking seven minute sequence of astonishingly lyrical and brutally violent action. I can't even get my head around how he planned, shot and edited this scene or how long it took to capture. But I remember hearing from somebody who worked with him that Peckinpah was a director who never stopped shooting, compulsively inventing new set-ups, bits of business, whole sub-storylines within scenes and often doing it completely off the cuff. Something of that sort may have happened here, as the 'demarcation' scene always feels to me like the work of a master-in-motion, a composer who can't notate the music quickly enough as inspiration pours fourth...
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Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 10:44 AM