Saturday, 28 June 2008

Truth at 24 FPS!

In a recent interview with the Guardian newspaper, British director Paul Greengrass questions the current state of the film industry in the UK and in particular it’s ability to find diversity and a “range of talent” within its work-pool. With this in mind, I present the Unofficial Guide to Recognizing UK Film Makers in the un-diverse world…

Directors: Tall, male, North London Media type, with finned hair, baggy trousers and a fierce ‘salt-of-the-Earth’ accent most definitely given to them by their wealthy home-counties and public-school childhoods. A good director works as a conduit to all and everyone, helping shape a vision and clearly communicate an idea. The current UK director does none of these things, and can mostly be found lounging in a chair, telling stories to make-up girls, and then checking their i-phone when anyone talks to them.

Best Person To Fill This Role: Fictional Media dick, Nathan Barley.

DOP’s: Short, male, slightly older and bitter North London Media type. Raised in the bullying and arrogant world of modern UK camera departments. Revered by almost everyone on set as the highest paid crew-member with the ability to make an actor look good with the flick of a switch. An underlined aura of menace hides just behind his smile. In his mind he is actually making the film and the director is just there for company. A photograph of him pointing from behind the camera is a must, even if he never actually left his chair for the entire shoot.

Best Person To Fill This Role: Croon-song character, Mac the Knife.

Camera Departments: The structure of the camera department is a pyramid built on fear, all of the levels desperate to move up and shit on the level below. Focus pullers put a lot of effort into making their clapper loader feel like everything they do is inferior to how the focus puller would have done it, and so on and so on, and they know no difference having been raised this way. Put multiple focus pullers into a room with a single DOP or operator, and they will all talk about how much they know about the newest technology in an effort to be hired at some point in the future by that DOP. Camera departments believe from the bottom of their hearts that they are members of the elite of film making, and that all other departments are just getting in their way – a clapper loader will be equally rude to a trainee and an HOD of any other department. This group also all live in North London, and all support Arsenal without really knowing why or even having much interest in football.

Best People To Fill These Roles: A collection of clones of obsequious man-slug, Grima Wormtongue

Art Department: The loudest department on set, the head of the department swans, the on-set department members are a mixture of flustered, unhealthy individuals and over-confident wannabe swanners. In between this tends to be a pool of slightly scruffy art-school types, splattered in paint and living in unusual abodes (cars, caravans, tents, etc). A touch of the unwashed about them.

Best People To Fill These Roles: Draw a line from Jack in Will and Grace across to Samwise Ganges and then further on to any one of the ditzy likable roles that Drew Barrymore has played, pick a mixture of them up and you have your art department in place.

Sound Department: Bitter, angry and convinced that not a single other person knows what a tough job it is that they have, Sound Department members are one of the few groups of working people that arrive to work only to be told that they are going to have difficulty in doing their job today because other people didn’t do their jobs correctly on a daily basis. Starting out young, fit and happy, this is soon punched out of them from job to job, their anger levels rising as their activity drops, until they can be found in a dark corner of the stage, alone and furious about nothing, unable to get out of their chairs.

Best People To Fill These Roles: Joe Pesci in Goodfellas trapped inside the ineffectual body of Ironside.

Costume Departments: Take one horsy girl of semi-level attractiveness – remove all common sense and add as many layers of clothing that you can, cook until slightly underdone.

Best People To Fill These Roles: You know the kooky female character that is a friend of Hugh Grant’s character in romantic comedies? Her, but with head trauma.

Make-Up Departments: Take one down-to-earth girl of semi-level attractiveness – add a healthy dollop of dowdiness and prematurely age. Helps if tears are never far away.

Best People To Fill These Roles: You own mother as played by your younger sister.

Electrical Departments: Normally from Essex, normally functioning alcoholics, normally on their third marriage, which is hitting the rocks, and normally think that a Quad-bike is the best substitute for love to give their children. All think that they are the alpha-males of the film set and would like nothing more than to crush the skulls of all the cocky upper-class media types that they have to deal with – however, as much as they talk about violence and anti-establishment sentiments, they all just need a hug and a good cry. Tend to be racist and extremely sexist.

Best Person To Fill This Role: Racist 70’s “comedian” Jim Davidson’s brain transplanted into the body of a Silver-Back Gorilla.

There are more and this is all very tongue in cheek (I have sadly worked with people that fit the above descriptions, but have also worked with some of the most interesting, wonderful and warmest people I have met) but I do agree with Mr Greengrass’s sentiment – as more and more people are asked to intern their way through the early years of working in film, and for a longer time, the pool that can be fished from is getting smaller and smaller – hopefully something will change soon.

1 comment:

pdore said...

This is more like it! Very funny and not all that stuff about cricket. Don't worry though, everybody in the Los Angeles film industry is a saint. Keep up the good work!