In Search of the â€œAuteurâ€? Dissertation by industrial placement By Sara Elias Supervised by Prof. Peter Metelerkamp MA film and Tv production University of Bristol
Table of Contents: I• Introduction: • Genesis and democratizing the notion of “auteurship” • Egyptian revolution liberating a generation of auteurs II. Methodology: “Out” Host Company
III. Practicing the Freedom of Auteurship • Ad preproduction and concept drivel • (Diagrams/ story board / Previz material)
IV. Sarris three premises of Auteurship: 1) Technique: The Auteur as Trinity • Production Designer: visual scheme, the staged location • Director: • Director of photography 2) Personal style: Developing a personal look and sound style 3) Internal Meaning: The consciousness and compassion of the Auteur
IV.Enemiesof the Auteur • • • •
Finding the right support group Diminishing contributing roles Belief or flight of fancy The fluctuating idol
V. Conclusion VI. References
I. Introduction: The idea of authorship have been historically varying and contentious, it began in the pages of French journal Cahier de cinema when Alexandre Astruc's manifesto, "The Birth of a New Avant-Garde” brought forth the concept of “The Camera-Stylo" which was later expanded by François Truffaut which argues that "cinema was in the process of becoming a new mean of expression on the same level as painting and the novel:" a form in which an artist can express his thoughts, however abstract they may be, “This is why I would like to call this new age of cinema the age of the 'camera-stylo.' He said. "Cahiers co-founder and theorist André Bazin laid the groundwork for a set of concepts, revolutionary at that time, which the American film critic Andrew Sarris called auteur theory."La politique des auteurs", translated literally, as "The policy of authors". However, with the mount of digital revolution and the technical liberations, the concept of auteurism persists today in viable expanded modes typically denoted for film directors who write (author) their own films and use the motion picture as a medium for personal artistic expression hence (sometimes) outside the mainstream cinema, on that regard filmmaking had been expanded and even communalized to other notions like individuality, self expression and freedom of experimentation. (Maule, 2011)
The Egyptian revolution fostering a new wave of auteur filmmakers: On the local stream, this new wave of auteur films had stirred the Arab cinema’s old guard as well, in Egypt a band of 100 independent Egyptian producers and directors was set to launch a breakaway union for filmmakers challenging the existing Egypt Cinema Professions Syndicate which has represented the industry since 1955.The move is being spearheaded by director-producer Hala Lotfy who won best director from the Arab world at the Abu Dhabi film festival in October for her auteur film (Coming Forth By Day, 2012). (Goodfellow, 2012) “Egyptian and Arab cinema should be auteur cinema, films with messages as opposed to commercial films. I reject and denounce the tendency of commercial and entertainment cinema that, for some years now, has taken over Egypt in imitation of Hollywood cinema.” Said Hala Lotfy (Goodfellow, 2012) Without a shadow of doubt the Egyptian revolution had helped in rebuilding the monopoly of cinema in Egypt, radical changes in the technical realities of film production had occurred whether through the proliferation of digital technology or the new access of distribution channels, hence, the revolution had fostered a new generation of auteur filmmakers challenging the mainstream, and bridging them with the national cinemas in a new magical route. This democratization of filmmaking brought the power to the people to cultivate new fresh voices in film on an abundant platform for freedom of expression”(obenson, 2013)
“I expect we will have a better chance with a more liberal government, of higher freedom of expression and possibly more funding for independent film production.The challenge is to mix things up with a slate that includes commercial movies for the Arab market and auteur films that can play internationally and to find ways to make them, despite economic and political problems.”Said Mohamed Hefzy. The auteur producer who despite the tumult, has maintained his film work and his shingle Film clinic which was the powerhouse of the current film industry encouraging a new breed of auteur directors to emerge as well as run screenwriting workshops where Hefzy and his colleagues mentor aspiring talents.(Vivarelli, 2013)
“In Egypt, we often work in spite of the system and not because of it” said Maggie Morgan A new rising auteur director who collaborated with Hefzy to produce her first film (Asham, 2013) and get it screened in national theatres, a more strikingly auteur example is the independently-produced feature documentary (Jews of Egypt,2013) which finally received approval from the Egyptian censorship authority, for a local theatrical release, the most ultimately shocking about it is screening such a sensitive topic under the reign of Mulsim Brotherhood.(Mahmoud,2012)
Ali Ali the Auteur figure in Egyptian TV industry: “Elephant is not an agency. It really isn't. In no way does it resemble an agency. We don't have a billing department, client servicing, planning, studio, management, a CEO, an ECD,that works - none of that. It's just Maged and I. We are Elephant;” said Ali Ali: a commercial director and the most auteur figure in Egyptian TV industry, he creates, films and directs campaigns for Sony, Coke and Google. He Founded Elephant in 2010, which quickly became the most awarded agency in the Middle East, with three Cannes Lions and seven Grand Prixs at the Dubai Lynx Awards and the Regions Award Show. ( Wentz, 2011)
On that regard, it can be said that the definition of Auteur today has been expanded to screenwriters, producers and TV professionals, on the face of it the auteur is no longer the old fashioned director that bossed and master every aspect of the film, the Auteur today is holding the camera, setting up the lights, editing the video and speaking directly to the client as they do. Filmmakers no longer needed a huge studio to make a screen material; they could now go out and shoot on location using smaller crews set against authentic backdrops and Working fast on low budgets. (Graham, 2013) On the other hand, in this rapid and wide spread uptake of data card based videography, the auteur filmmaker’s new challenge is to distinguish himself amongst the crowd, as well as discover and develop his own voice, create something with a genuine quality that rings and leaves a stamp in the audience.
ii. Points of investigation and research question: In this thesis by reflecting on my auteur experiment with the host company, I will examine the auteurist model of filmmaking, explain and illustrate the roles I undertook, the choices, constrains and compromises encountered to execute a TV screen material in an attempt to discover and develop an individual visual voice and follow the personal intuitive artistic inclinations.
Methodology with the Host Company:
OUT company adopts and exploits these digital auteurism concepts in various modes, as it is basically a local multimedia production company, composed of a body of film and TV professionals, editors, photographers, graphic designers and wardrobe artists,Their scope of work includes location managing, casting, and providing up to date regularly serviced gear, their Projects include a wide variety of TV ads, channel indents, documentaries, short films and promos. Besides they have their own dedicated postproduction studio that caters to film and TV industry, furthermore, they offer filmmaking courses to the generating artists encouraging new talents to develop. Therefore OUT was the most appropriate site for addressing the investigation of the auterist model of filmmaking because of their wide range of production services that acts as a one-stop shop for video production. My workflow started as a freelance director/ cinematographer for a TV ad, and then because of some obstacles my tasks expanded to production and sound designing. A technical director assisted me throughout all the production process; a location manager as well as a lighting crew which accompanied the filming process.
Client ad brief:
The client was a multinational company named Terraco which provides innovative, Green solutions to the construction industry, it uses carefully selected raw materials to manufacture products that can construct, fix, paint and decorate any interior or exterior surface, while preserving health, and ensuring comfort.
After conversing with the client’s marketing manager Roody Refqy and technical manager John Cary to investigate the ad message goals and focus message. I Inclined to focus on Terraco’s main Trait “GREEN SOLUTIONS” And from the term GREEN SOUTIONS, went a step backward to problem solving, and accordingly the different human attitudes towards facing their problems. According to John B. Watson, the founder of behaviorism, all marketing and advertising initiative is based on the theory of human behavior and motivation, “people buy products and services when it adds value to their lives”.he said (Scott, 1904) !
On that regard, it can be said that writers, filmmakers and media professional has a vital role in shaping public opinion and transforming society, by encouraging individual attitude, and fostering ethical development. (Scott, 1904) The diagrams bellow were created In order to illustrate the human behavior towards facing problems on which the storyline was written on its basis.
Ad story line:( Translated script is in the next page, it is more rhyme schemed in Arabic) VO: What’s life but some bunch of problems on top of each other, And every one faces it with his own subtraction, There’s whose problem had been exploded from him and became a scandal, There’s who strives to hide it, or still toss and turn around it,Character: One day it will be solved by itself, VO: And there is who already gave up and lived his life with it… And there is who decided to end it, and from its roots solve it and revive it. Leader: Egypt will be changed by you and it (TERRACO) VO: and suddenly what was once a problem is now a laughter, big crowd and a comfortable life. Slogan: “Terraco Paint: the solution is always in your hand”
Int. Old home VO: WHATâ€™S LIFE BUT A BUNCH OF PROBLEMS ON TOP OF EACH Old flip-flops piled up at a very scratched and peeled wall Cut Int. Bathroom VO: AND EVERYBODY TREATS IT ON HIS OWN SUBTRACTION We see a young man 's eye checking over a hole in the bathroom wall with a magnifying lens, then reverse shot where he calculates the distance between the many holes in the wall writing mathematical proof around it then his eye caught a pair of blue socks beside him (same color of the wall) so he decided to just fill the hole with those socks. Cut Int. Under construction room in a ground floor apartment VO: SOMEONE IGNITED FROM HIM AND TURNED INTO SCANDAL Wall painter paints the wall in a new home with red pepper instead of the sponge roll, he paints the wall with bombed red, the house wife screams and whines at the discolored result, making a scandal out of the scene, passing by people in streets stopped to watch the fight. Cut Int.vintage party in well furnished salon VO: ANOTHER ONE TRIES TO COVER IT Vintage party by a polished lady, when everyone is high at peak in party.a wall painting fell off and ugly peeled appeared, she rushed to stand in front of trying to cover it embarrassingly Cut
Int.living room of an old home V0: THERE IS WHO STILL TOSS AND TURN AROUND IT An old man sitting in his salon with his shirt, he placed all his home fans around him, very hot summer, he is eating a cold watermellon, when the electricity went off, he whines and as he pours cold water over his head electricity came again. Cut Int.bathroom of the portman Portman: it will eventually be solved by itself Fat portman stanind helplessly under his water-dripping ceiling with a head umbrella over his head. Cut
Int. In an old home. VO: AND THERE IS WHO ALREADY GAVE UP MID FORTIES MAN STANDING BESIDE HIS UGLY SCRATCHED WALL HOLDING A GUN POINTED TO HIS HEAD, AND TRIGGERED IT. Cut
Int. Old bathroom in front a mirror and a sink. VO:OR LIVED HIS LIFE WITH IT A young boy grab a towel from hung on a cracked wall dries his face with a towel to show him an old man. Cut
INT.moonlight rough bedroom of a single social leader newspaper and old leader posters glued on his walls VO: AND THERE IS WHO DECIDES TO END Mid forties man sleepless in his bed, throws off the bed cover and grabs the paint knife Cut Ext. In green field Vo: FROM ITS ROOTS SOLVE IT & REVIVE IT The leader squeezes a green leaf to drip the paint in a terraco pail Ext.sun set in a city street The leader shouts to the massive crowd: EGYPT WILL CHANGE BY YOU AND IT (TERRACO) The leader leads a paint revolution holding the spray plaster in his hand as a megaphone and terraco pail in the other hand, and cheers to the crowd. They reply with hoorays lifting up the painting rolls, brushes and terraco pails. VO: AND WHAT ONCE A PROBLEM TURNS INTO A HUGE OPPORTUNITY The citizens painting their homes and gathering crowds, splashing paint and laughing, the man who triggered the gun in the beginning is now triggering a paint splashing gun in his head instead and laughing. Collective images of citizens from different grounds sharing the paint revolution, close shots of their pigments colored hands painting the surfaces. TERRACO paint: THE SOLUTION IS ALWAYS IN YOUR HANDS CShot:a painted hand like a cup with tools and pencils inside it turned around to show terraco pail with sunflowers inside it.
visual enhancer Story Board
whatâ€™s life but a bunch of problems on top of each other
And everybody treats it on his own subtraction - Holes
someone ignited from him and turn to scandal Discoloration
Another one tries to cover it - Peeled Paint
There is who still toss and turn around it -weather coat
And there is who already gave up
one day it will be solved by itself
And lived his life with it
And there is who decides to end & from its roots solve it & revive it
And what once a problem turns into a huge opportuninity
Egypt will Tchange by you and it (Terraco)
Terraco materials: the solution is always in your hands
The company is a high end product, known more on the industrial levels than the domestic levels,even though it was present in Egypt for more than thirty years, so the marketing goal of the ad was to localize and nationalize the product from niche market to mass market which is basically all Egyptians as a nation since it (company) wanted to introduce itself as a product that provides all materials needed to transform environments not just single surfaces. Important to mention that from the market and competitors research, I learnt that most paint companies had associated themselves to a certain community service, the most famous is (SIPES) which has multiple and publicized activities with the main cancer hospital in Egypt, Therefore it was also important to build a communal status and associative service for the company, especially in the phase of introducing it to the public and national audience.
Target audience Description: Unlike Western societies that put a value on individualism, Egyptian society is famous for its collectivism fostering a huge sense of community. Before the revolution, Egyptians had little tolerance for change; they were not risk-takers, bowed back, and desperate. However, the past revolutions stirred out the rebellion spirit (which even became a mode of behavior) in Egyptians, This revolutionary spirit builds on itself, igniting sparks that give Egyptians actual power. In the past few months, with a grinding stalemate and a sense that everything was getting worse, the revolutionary spirit re-flowered in an array of quotidian scenes; obvious in the encounters when people got out of their cars after hours of waiting in line for petrol, punning and cursing at Morsi when the electricity used to turn off daily and more, hence a solidarity and a feeling of strength in community and collective experiences rose again. (Eltantawi, 2013)
on personal parallels, my long stay in Bristol, passing by the colorful nelson street everyday, where the “see no evil project”, being unable to engage with the foreign film culture and unable to displace myself from the turmoil occurring in my country, all these factors had surely accumulated a certain cry in me to feel responsible and commune back to search my personal role and duty as a citizen towards a suffocated society. I wanted to believe that I can use my media tools to impact people’s live, revive their hope at its least, when I am trying to hold to hope myself and resume living in an obviously collapsing city.Nevertheless, I always had a personal vision of a resurrecting community that use their talents to revive and transform their city themselves,and not just wait for the right governors to come,especially that this proactive rebuilding attitude is already waveringly present within Egyptians, many random attempts have been made to paint streets and fences in Cairo, as well as some new NGOS adopted this thought like “Egypt in colors” and “nuba color festival” however the results remained trivially scattered and haven’t caused a transformation in the city scope or community yet. For this reason I created the paint revolution in the city at the finale of the ad, to act as a call to gather the collective efforts again, but this time to rebuild the city (place a tool in their hands instead of the call out banners and encourage the mindset of “Things won’t change, We change them.”Hence awakening again the civic culture in society and resolving the recent civil wars and divisions caused by muslim brotherhood who still protest for their own survival in central Cairo creating a nation within nation.
“Modern mass culture, aimed at the 'consumer', the civilization of prosthetics, is crippling people's souls, setting up barriers between man and the crucial questions of his existence, his consciousness of himself as a spiritual being.” (Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time 1986) According to Watson,Psychology has to be one of the most dominating parameters, to produce an advertisement that leaves a stamp and impact, Rapaille an advertising guru stated, that the best advertisements target consumers on 3 factors: rational, self-worth, and external conflict resolution, (Keyes, 1999) On that regard, since this 30 seconds will be mass exposed invading every home in Egypt, with a product that can drastically boost a very weary population and impact their spirit, I chose to be sensitive to my target audience’s needs and instead of surfacing the product’s strength, enhance and boost the consumer’s strength when he has the product. The table below has stills from the filmed material. The picture actions are created to match different problems in the wall surface, like cracks, peeling, discoloration, water dripping not being insulated or coated, etc
Stills from The actual Footage
Audio vo: What’s life but a bunch of problems on top of each other
vo: And every one faces it with his own subtraction
vo: There’s who had been ignited from him and became a scandal
vo: There’s who tries to hide it
Vo: there is who still toss around it Portman:: One day it will be solved by itself
vo: And the one who already gave up
vo: Or lived his life with it
vo: And there is he who decide to end it music: Accelerating piano fades in
And from its roots fix it and revive it
Leader: Egypt will be changed by you and it
Leader: Egypt will be changed by you and it
And suddenly what was once a problem became a laugh,crowd and a comfortable life
Terraco Paints: â€œThe solution always in Your handsâ€?
The influenced genre of Re-modernism and the small “moments”: “Some sort of pressure must exist; the artist exists because the world is not perfect. Art is born out of an ill-designed world… The director’s task is to recreate life, its movement, its contradictions; it’s dynamic and conflicts. It is his duty to reveal every iota of the truth he has seenfor they represent the reality of his inner life, of the peregrinations and struggle into which the external world has thrown him.” Andrei Tarkovsky Sculpting in Time 1986 Being influenced by the Remodernist film movement (seeks a new spirituality in art and an understanding of the simple truths and moments of humanity) that makes emphasis of "small moments", and the embarrassing“shadows” of every day. (Ebert,2010) along with the collaboration of the creative team of the company we placed the picture action of the ad to act as a realistic portrayal of Egyptian society screening different classes’ attitudes, and truly reflects the daily struggles, economic hardship,as well as the underlying common behaviors within the Egyptian society like: 1)Re-contextualizing: which is a widely common behavior within the local communities in Egypt where they always find alternative economical(creative) and funny solutions to their problems 2) Social masking between themiddle/upper middle classes 3) Structuralizedculture of “order it yourself “ not “do it yourself” 4) the Passives or whom we call (Allah-waya) who lean upon god to do them everything, 5)The stereotypical old man who isreluctant to change nor seekingthe new solutions 6) “the moments” when the electricity used turn off daily7)anonymous forty-year-old rebel hero who comes from the heart of local street like many figures we see nowadays (Sabahy,Baradaai..etc),8)the squeezed Desperate Lower middle classes.
Sarris’s three Premises of Auteurship: Polish scholar Andrew Sarris wrote a much-studied article in reaction to Truffaut’s work on the auteur theory titled “Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962.” He defined the three essential aspects of auteur work: technique, personal style, and interior meaning. To clarify: “The three premises to ‘auteur’ theory: a) The technical competence of the director, b) The director’s distinguishable personality c) Interior meaning.
He says that three concentric circles can represent the three premises, of which the outer one represents technique, the middle one – individual style and the inner one – interior meaning. The director’s interrelated roles can be designated as the roles of the technician, stylist (metteur en scene) and the ‘auteur’ respectively.” (Sarris, 2004)
As Sarris (1962:562) has stated: “Now, by the auteur theory, if a director has no technical competence, no elementary flair for the cinema, he is automatically cast out from the pantheon of directors. This is true in any art.The second premise of the auteur theory is the distinguishable personality of the director as a standard of value. Over a group of films, a director must exhibit certain recurrent characteristics of style, which serves as his signature. The way a film looks and moves should have some relationship to the way a director thinks and feels.The third and ultimate premise of the auteur theory is concerned with interior meaning, the ultimate glory of the cinema as an art. Interior meaning is extrapolated from the tension between a director’s personality and his material.This conception of interior meaning comes close to what astruc defines as mise en scene, but not quite, it is not quite the vision of the world a director projects nor quite his attitude towards life, it is ambiguous, in any literary sense Truffaut has called it the temperature of the director on the set and that’s is a close approximation of its professional aspect , dare I come out to call it is an elan of the soul , and he means by soul the intangible difference between one personality and another, all other things be equal.” I will reflect on my auteur experiment according to Sarris premises, explaining the decisions I encountered during the filming process, I will illustrate about my role as a production designer, director and director of photography under the Technique, and my choices of the aesthetic parametersunder the personal style, as well as the search of the sense of auteurship in the Interior meaning.
I.Technique: illustration on The Ad’sfilming process 1) The Auteur: as Production Designer:
Technique is the ability to put a screen material together with some clarity and coherence, says Truffaut (Kael, 1971) Lobortto stated in his book “The filmmaker guide to production design”While Many filmmakers embrace the camera as the key element in cinematic visualization, an allencompassing visual style or look of a motion picture comes from the trinity comprised of the director, the director of photography, and the production designer” which were my assigned roles on this production in which I found them interpretative roles, as designing and choosing locations that match the narrative will serve the ad’s thematic content. As Kael said in her article “The visualization of Citizen Kane”,it emerged from the artistic trinity, when Welles and Toland decided on the use of deep focus for the film,Ferguson (the art director) had to design deep perspectivesets with foreground and background details for that visual concept to take shape in the film. (Kael, 1971) However, primarily, all the filming was going to take place in real locations that fit the script provided by the location manager, who suggested a very suitable old apartment in downtown that has most of the script needed location (mainly the peeled walls in the party, cracks in the bathroom, and holes in the balcony) however, due to the political chaos and Muslim brotherhood blocking the streets to downtown we were unable to reach there for so many days of our primary schedule, and we had to seek alternative solutions promptly in order not to delay the production more.
Therefore, the location manager suggested another alternative location nearby that doesnâ€™t have the same old weary effect but can be staged to match the script, even though the location preparation was extremely time consuming, we found the staged locations turned out to be more rewarding than the original ones, as we had the freedom to choose colors and control more over the props, in this process one valuable lesson I adopted was to have the flexible attitude of â€œthe alternative can be betterâ€? adding up that having to choose colors for the locations had enhanced the building up of the ad visual scheme. original location
As Lobortto explained in his book â€œfilmmaker guide to production designâ€? the screen story is created through cinematography, design, and color palette as the most valuable tool, therefore on the process of building the adâ€™s visual scheme and preparing locations,I decided to use the total color palette, especially that it was an ad for a paint company, and being playful in colors can be a reward, I chose the colors to be pale and retro (pale blue/purple and green) in the locations exhibiting the problems and the dull behaviors and then a noticeable change of color palette when the people got the heroic power and chose life over death and use the product to transform their land. (More saturated primary colors: Blue to represent power and Terraco corporate identity. Yellow to represent hope and green to represent Terra (earth) and the environment)
I placed images of the location preparation process, before and after images as well as inspiration drivels.
The Vintage Party: Before:
The Leaderâ€™s room:
visual inspirations and costume design:
The holes in the bathroom: Before:
The bombed room:
Living with Cracked wall: Before
2) The Auteur as Director: â€œWorking on a low budget requires ingenuity and planning. To me the most important part of making a motion picture is the pre-production planning." Said Roger Corman the Depression-born saver who turned into the pre-digital age's top economizing auteur. ( Dicker, 2011) Working as an auteur director was a double sword task, though I had the advantage to execute the idea I believed in I had to decide many aspects of the production myself, be in full charge of the mise-en-scĂ¨ne details, including props, sets, costumes, and actors and make many decisions both creatively and financially in a very short time, most importantly, was on the set, when operating the camera and directing actors in the same time was tricky when filming scenes with many actors especially those who are not professional and needed to be directed all the time
Terraco employers as the main actors in the ad production:
â€œNothing about us, without us is for us â€œ(a social theory implies that no policy should be decided by any representative without the full and direct participation of the group members affected by it) being a learner of this theory, I decided to check whether there are any employers in the company interested to participate in the ad production and the acting roles specifically, as I was aware that it might also increase their sense of belonging to the company, I was very fortunate to have the enthusiasm of many of them that could cover most of the ad roles as well as engage all the factory workers to play the revolution scene. Since, The whole production was working under the similar conditions of Italian Neorealis m movement (filmed on location, frequently using non-professional actors. And mostly contend with the difficult economic and moral conditions of post-World War II Italy, representing changes in the Italian psyche and conditions of everyday life) (Iannone, 2013) likewise, the ad production was filmed in the most troubled political circumstances where streets were blocked daily, civil wars ignited in split of seconds, so using non-professional actors as well as switching to locations nearer to the employersâ€™ working place was more convenient and practicable. Furthermore That the focus of the ad was on a simple social order of survival in rural, everyday life, in which the Performances were mostly constructed from scenes of people performing fairly mundane and quotidian activities, therefore the devoid of selfconsciousness that amateur acting entail was a plus, besides the cutting down of the professional actors wages from the budget.
According to Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italian Neo-Realism meant the rediscovery of Italy he said “there was a sense of pleasure in the self-discovery, even pleasure in denouncing one’s own short-comings” All Neo-Realist works has this Marxist character and founded on the idea that the future would be better (Neo Realism documentary, 1973) similarly, In so many things the schedule was a guess game, (if we managed to make it tomorrow, if the streets were open) was the dominating saying, we were in a constant discovery of tomorrow’s incidents, and tried our best to maintain the better scenario and the high hopes. Therefore, the filming production had no rigid schedule at the end, we filmed with gaps of weeks and up till this point the closing shots of the ad when the city people gather in laughter and paint fight after painting their homes hasn’t been filmed yet because of the political chaos, the curfew and the low morals of society.
3) The auteur as Director of photography:
Ultimately, digital image acquisition will definitely replace film for TV production. You don't need a crystal ball to know that. Ed Nassour, senior VP of postproduction, 20th Century Fox Television. The film scene's development in the 1990s and 2000s has been stimulated by a range of factors, including the development of affordable digital cinematography cameras that can rival 35 mm filmquality. (Dicker, 2011) The ad was filmed with Canon EOS 6D that has the ability to shoot 1080p video at 24fps, which is considered the standard for 'film', the result was surprisingly satisfactory for me, although I am biased towards filmic images for the cinematic quality they bring, and the wide flexibility of film looks they offer in the post production phase. However, using the 6d was the right gear for this production as it massively cut down the rentals fees and added huge flexibility with the troubled shooting schedule, prior to the principle filming we had meetings to create a rigid workflow studying the many options available that matched everyoneâ€™s needs versus the technical realities. (Including the producer who wanted to save the budget for a better spot price package) so I surely had to subside my personal aspiration for a further project, as Jack Nicholson intelligently remarked, â€œA filmmaker not understanding money in the movies is like a painter not understanding paintâ€?(Dicker, 2011) As for the filming process, working as the auteur cinematographer was a less demanding task as being the same person responsible of visualizing the scenes (camera movement and framing) left no room for misunderstandings in the delegations, especially that the final shots were mainly dolly and handheld shots to emphasize the new liveliness brought to the people. (Tracking backing on a truck while the revolts comes ahead to emphasize their progress, a
flowing handheld passing among green fields to emphasize their reviving of the environment and the terra.) “Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but the best thing that young filmmakers should do is to get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all.” Suggested Stanley Kubrick (Beggs, 1996) in order to develop and train this personal visual acuity of the cinematographer which seemingly grows by personal practicing and erring. On the other hand, while ideally it is the director of photography’s role to control and decide the lighting set, my actual task on set was just the camera operator, I had little to no intervention on the lighting design, as prior to filming I explained the scenes moods to the lighting director Michael Magdy and then I depended on the lighting crew to dominate and put their own creative input, therefore I can never claim to be the “author” of the image result especially that I tried to capture dry runs for some few shots without the lighting crew (lighting director and two gaffers) to check the scene demands and there was a drastic difference in the image quality filmed without the lights, (Michael) the lighting director was a very creative assistant in realizing the scenes moods suggesting different lighting sets, like silhouette lighting: back blue lit for a dramatic effect for the character who gave up, (The use of reflector on an existing light source in the bathroom for the shot of the kid who grew up with the cracks/ moonlight stimulation on the leader ‘s room by fitting a blue filter to the front of the camera and decreasing the exposure) Many rich setting twists and simple tricks I learnt from our collaboration, firstly that filming well lit images gives more flexibility in the post than playing dramatically in the picture setting (by lowering the iso or color temperature), filming indoors in the daylight can always be more flexible than filming in the night when However much light we seem to pour onto our subject it still looks dark and grainy, the ruling thing we had is to shoot most of the scenes in the magic hour just before light is about to go, when it can look like night (in the post) but there is still some light on the horizon. Nevertheless, wholly depending on the post to fix it turned to be a loss game, asthis used to be my previous motto since I had little experience in lighting sets. As Goldman refuted “film is a collaborative process of authors where each person brings their own creativity and ability” (Moran, 1999) nevertheless, using some more pacing and care in the details can enhance developing a personal look or style which Sarris named as the second premise of auteurship.
2. Personal Style:
on a survey of two figures from the industry’s pantheon of auteurs, Wes Anderson and Woody Allen, showed that developing a personal style or the creation of a signature stamp is a demanding combination of skill and passion, developed by trial and error and practicing around the film’s aesthetics parameters: the sets, costume design, the cinematography, sound etc(Kozak, 2013) Developing a personal filmic look: the American film critic Andrew Sarris's writings on 'the auteur theory' in the early 1960s, mentioned the term metteur en scène which means that an auteur's aesthetic style can be consistently detected in the scenography of his films, For example A fundamental aspect of Anderson’s signature is the singular and consistent style of his production and costume design, (Bradshaw,2008) so in search of a personal style in this production I decided not to follow the fashion of any popular film looks in order to provide it with some kind of timelessness, but generally the unsymmetrical sometimes shaky camerawork, canted angles and sepia images can be marks of developing an initiative signature. Developing a personal sound style Another way a filmmaker can create a signature is through the musical score. (Kozak, 2013) being influenced by Wim wenders, and Tarkovski who are musical filmmakers I find myself think of scenes as melodies, with rhythm, feelings, climaxes and turning points. This inclination for musical visuals might have been developed on sound designing my first short film, which was 20 minutes of musical visuals with no dialogue.
However, On designing the ad’s music, our primary plan was to make the production work simultaneously and collaborate with a sound designer Rando Harvey in his company “PROmind” so that the ad will have its original music piece, however, this collaboration failed as we (the creative team) realized that the shorter the motion picture (30 seconds) the more precise the music had to hook. And as the filming process was already stumbling, I had to sound design the music myself after we are half done with filming. I mixed bloomy jazz notes when exhibiting the problems then fade in an accelerating lively piano when the leader appears with his proactive attitude, music was an integral enhancing role in this motion picture as well as the genuine voice of the narrator.
“A film is - or should be - more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. “Stanley Kubrick (Beggs, 1996) Accordingly to develop a personal visual voice with an expressible content, it is required to develop a creative imagination with a subjective self-awareness, hence the ability to connect with the inner soul which delivers us to the third premise of auteurship, the interior meaning.
3. Internal meaning: Truffaut, in his article: sense of authorship advocated filmmakers who included their own experience in their films, their own “psychological realism,” rather than the work of literary masters. He saw the creative process as so emotional and personal for a filmmaker, he should feel himself as if he were on display. He wrote,“The artist cannot always dominate his work. He is sometimes its God, other times its creature.“ Just as a painter cannot help adding his own personality to his work through his paintbrush, Truffaut saw a filmmaker as having no other choice but to display his deepest emotions onscreen for the judgment of the audience. (Edgar, 2011) Similarly, on creating this production, I searched within myself first, faced my own chronic struggles, my hideous behaviors and failures towards facing them and sought the foundational solution which I finally realized that the solution lies in my “hands”, by having the faith that the problem contains the solution; then I connected and shared this personal revelation and mental victory out to public audience to be a communal victory and share with them my liberating realization. Historically speaking, it has been argued that film and psychoanalysis have always been close siblings. The birth of cinema studies as a discipline similarly coincided with a renaissance in psychoanalytic theories which unmasks the psychic mechanisms functioning in the unconscious of: filmmakers, characters, viewing audiences, and specific instances of cinematic discourse. "Freud theorized the mind ‘ psyche in three terms: the Unconscious/Preconscious/Conscious, where the Unconscious: the site of conflict andwhat one has repressed, what one cannot know without analytical help ,Pre-conscious: what one is not thinking, but could if one chose to , and Conscious: what one is presently aware of.(Cherry,2006) hence, psychoanalytic film theory compared films to such manifestations of the unconscious as dreams, slips of the tongue, and neurotic symptoms. But this kind of psychoanalytic film theory is somewhat out of fashion today. (Netto, 2000)
Gabbard wrote in his Book psychiatry and cinema, “Over the past century, cinema has
played a part in the social, political and cultural psyche of our world. We should not underestimate films as a source of entertainment and education and as a significant influence on people's attitudes to mental illness” (Lewis, 1998) in this sense, it can be argued that the film that seems to make difference in audience is one created by a Conscious Filmmaker, an artist who tries to develop an aware intent with an enlightened purpose and has a deep sense of moral and psychological truthfulness where empathy accompanies such awareness and fuels his inner compassion, allowing him to feel what the other is feeling, And when such consciousness is shared, it becomes a powerful and beneficial symbiotic feedback loop that lifts a true societal evolution in the most positive way.(lewis,1998)
Frued’s theory of human psychology, describes the ways in which the small human being comes to develop a specific personality within the larger network of social relations called culture. It takes as its object the mechanisms of the unconscious. (Lewis, 1998) Similarly This ad was weaved from diverse influences and cultural circumstances like political chaos, social desperation and mental cluelessness, as well as drawn from a common pool of themes that permeated my previous works: seeking change of environment, reconciling with one’s own skin and reality, escapism, self belief and determination, which are all heavily inspired by my personal history and laborious homeland.
â€œ...Art must carry man's craving for the ideal, must be an expression of his reaching out towards it; that art must give man hope and faith. And the more hopeless the world in the artist's version, the more clearly perhaps must we see the ideal that stands in opposition otherwise life becomes impossible! Art symbolizes the meaning of our existence.â€? Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time 1986 these themes of self-examination create a cohesive and even a prophetic body of work that distinctly reflect a personal psychological development and maturity, My past short film (My laver, 2010) was screening a manâ€™s journey to inner liberation and transformation where he locked himself in an exceptionally ugly bathroom which represent his reality or inner life, after all his failed trials of escapism, he had to face his reality, reconcile with his own skin and purify himself first from his stubborn attitude, humble himself, and accept and be content with what he has, hence by his inner transformation and reconciliation he drastically transformed his bathroom making it a very comfortable place, and when he was finally at ease not caring to go out anymore he found the key in himself.
(Change is done by you, 2011) is another interactive media installation attempt that holds the same notion that an individual change is inseparable from the social and political change,in which I collaborated with a team of an interactive technician and two graphic designers to reinforce one of the shameful donkey carts wandering in city streets to a mobile cinema and a platform to act as a statement and address awakening messages, the main was “change is done by you” over a library of short videos or self projection.
“All of us learn to speak in the language and customs of our particular culture” Lacan inverts this to say that we are in fact spoken by the culture itself. Our sense of self is formed through the perception and language of others, and this formation takes place even at the deepest levels of the unconscious (Lewis, 1998) Therefore it can be argued that the formation of self and culture are intertwined parameters in the auteur filmmaking, where in the journey of developing random scribbles into a publicized piece of motion picture, ‘A self-identity has to be created and more or less continually reordered against the backdrop of shifting experiences of day-to-day life’ (Giddens, 1991). on the personal parallels, in this production process, I moved in my own beliefs from great doubt to deep faith, as I encountered problems of facing consciousness, lack of development and resources,blocking circumstances as well as inspiring enhancers within my small pool of society and its turmoil.
IV. Enemies stumbling the Auteur filmmaker: A) Finding the right support group:
Goldman opposed the auteurism old guard in “Adventures In The Screen trade journal”, ssaying :“no can deny that films are collaborative efforts that require the coordinated artistic input of many individuals;. Likewise no one can compare the process of writing a novel one person (author) sitting in room writing - to that of film.”The Cahier critics in France, along with Andrew Sarris in America, argue not only that “an artist’s personality will manifest itself in his works…but that there was, indeed, an artist at work where many had never believed one existed” As Rafferty quoted, When they say it's an auteur film, I say auteurs film.” (Moran, 1999) Likewise, This production was fortunate by a combined body of auteurs, where It had a dual creative team from the host company and the client company, the location manager had collaborations with furniture designs stores (Acasia /paradoxia) which catered the setting of the vintage party and provided the costumes, Ramez Atef one of the company founders, is a tv professional editor who works in Sony pictures, his works is expanded to many tv series (elgamaa, 2010), (reesh naam,2012) and more , Ondria Zakaria the company founder and the tv director of sesame street has an exceptional Egyptian sense of humor, who narrated the ad and helped in rhyming it, last but not least the outstanding enthusiasm of the client’s employers who fleshed out the story, and fit their roles in a marvelous way. On the other hand the main stumbling block in the production team was the lighting crew who are rented by day and weren’t regularly available so the schedule had to be set upon them, which made the set up of the lighting crew with the employers as actors with the safe political circumstances an occasional miracle happening every once in a while.
B) Diminishing the contributing roles:
Goldman also criticized auteur directors stating that Hitchcock downplayed the roles that others played in his films. He was often critical of his actors and usually did not give his screenwriters the recognition they deserved. (Moran, 1999) On practical parallels in this production, It was not the diminishing of contributing roles that stumbled the production but the absence of some, this was a disguised enemy in the process, as at the beginning of the production I thought of the assigned task (director/cinematographer) as an easy doable one, backing to my previous auteur experience in the short film, having the thought that a 30 second motion picture will surely be easier than a 20 minutes film, however, I was staggered by the challenges of the intertwined tasks, and the more I intervene in the process, the more smaller stinging tasks appear and it seemed impossible to carry on , I then realized how each production is unique in its exploitation and demands, as designing one location (in the previous film) is unlike locating and designing nine locations and directing one actor is unlike directing 1- 40 actors.on the other hand I was also aware that this auteur experiment might be my last opportunity to explore a personal visual voice and learn from my own pocket of mistakes.
C) “Belief” or flight of fancies:
“It can be very dangerous for any one person to believe that they are indispensable and can do no wrong”, stated Goldman who suggested that auteur theory is dangerous to the director. He added “that the auteur theory was responsible for the collapse of the career of one of [his] favorite directors: Alfred Hitchcock. He argues that Truffaut and the other auteurists deified him to the point that he became “encased in praise [and] hardened to any criticism.” Hitchcock’s belief in the auteur theory ruined him, and that “belief is dangerous to any director.”(Moran, 1999) Likewise, I encountered such tension,on deriving the ad idea, as it passed through many flight of fancies, my initial “dream” idea was to make a call out for artists and architects to start a communal renovating project with donations for painting certain districts or streets then document and film a 30 seconds of speeded footage for the whole community painting and transforming their city streets, homes and buildings, thus realizing my vision and the moral outcome I yearned to see, but very shortly I had to face the technical realities and realize how is it impossible to execute this idea, so I had to think practically yet hold on to my belief,think deeply and more inwardly of the stages needed to reach this outcome of a resurrected city.And thus the idea of behaviorism was derived and got developed and approved by conversing with the technical and marketing managers of the client, who also had their own demands in exhibiting most of their product solutions, so we tried to context the problems matching their products, (handy coat for filling holes, weather coat for water dripping, and heat insulators etc ..) on that regard,I learnt that the constraints and the preferences of the employer and/or client imposed in the stream of commercial art shouldn’t necessarily block the idea drivel but can actually enhance it, since the initial purpose behind any commercial is communication. Therefore, the idea should be on a going process of and communicating and developing by its parties (initially) till it reaches its audience lastly.
D) The faltering idol:
According to Lacan’s theory (id/ego/superego) we subconsciously tend to idolize celebrities and public figures, he explains his theory in three terms, the "ideal ego" which stands for the idealized self-image (the way I would like to be, I would like others to see me); the EgoIdeal which is the ideal I try to follow and actualize; and the superego is this same agency in its sadistic aspect. The underlying structuring principle of these three terms is “ImaginarySymbolic-Real”: ideal ego is imaginary, what Lacan calls the "small other," the idealized double-image of my ego; Ego-Ideal is symbolic, the point of my symbolic identification, the point in the big Other from which I observe (and judge) myself upon it; superego is real, the cruel and insatiable agency which bombards with his impossible demands.(Cherry,2006) Goldman had criticized this tendency of idolizing filmmakers stating that:“After Hitchcock’s astonishing streak of movies lasting until 1960’s Psycho; he spent the last twenty years of his life making five “awful, awful films.” But the auteur critics continued to praise them, because once the auteurist “surrenders himself to an idol,” he cannot admit that the idol could make a bad film.” (Moran, 1999)
In personal parallels, I had idols that kept varying and falling periodically, but they still influence my inclined style and choices as prominent in this production, at first I had Ron Howard for (A beautiful mind, 2002) because of its psychological truthfulness’s (being based on true story)” it could be the film that shaped my view of “cinema as the psychiatrist” however Ron Howard had later dealt with different themes and genres that I was never interested in. I later had Danny Boyle because of (Slumdog millionare, 2008)’s cinematography, his use of canted angles, imposed flashbacks, the genuineness of the real slumboys as his actors, I waited for his new release (127 Hours, 2012) to be visually inspired and nourished but I was utterly disappointed because of the too grotesque scenes. I had also idolized Terrence Malick for his poetic images, flying camera and conscious narration. But I was very dissatisfied in his last film (To the wonder, 2013) because of his repetitive images appearing in most of his films (wheat fields, birds, etc...) Peter Rinaldi (participating re-modernist filmmaker) shares his "personal thoughts" on ReModernisim in his essay, The Shore as seen from The Deep Sea. Saying “I think, for the most part, the generation I grew up in had Kubrick as their Giant. For many healthy reasons, this giant (or whatever giant towers over your work) must fall in our minds. We must become the giant”. (Ali, 2012) Hence, it can be said that being influenced by certain directors and adopting their styles is inevitable, when idolism seems to be a subconscious act, however, one can still argue that it may be a disguised enemy to the auteur (subconscious) development, and according to the “re- modernist film mentality” the safest solution for an uprising auteur is to have his inner life (consciousness) his giant and guru.
Since Astruc proposed the notion of a filmic author and Traffaut later brought forth an early draft of the theory, auteur theory has gone through many complications and has been under much debate, as exemplified by the writings of Andrew Sarris, who debated that the true voice of the auteur was to be found in the style or the underlying motifs of a directorâ€™s works. Today, with the advent of digital and technical liberation, it can be said that the notion of auteurship applies paradoxically to how it started, creating a continued viability of the auteurist model of filmmaking and the term which had always a dictatorial association to certain figure as an elite has now been democratized in its exploitation, with many new voices emerging against the theoretical paradigms and using film as their mode of self expression. Therefore, If a conclusion can be drawn, In this era of fluctuations, when policies and idols fall, theories are in constant flux, self is in ongoing growth, populations are in contentious shapenning of identity, it can be said that the only thing remains constant is change, thus there will be no time when I can say I have attained, or already been perfected; but I press on that I may comprehend hence I am constantly â€œin search of the auteurâ€?.
Ali, M. (2012) “Andrei Rublev (1966): Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky’s treatise on creative freedom and spirituality”http://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com/2012/05/andrei-rublev-1966russian-auteur.html (22 May 2002)
Beggs, S. (2012) “6 Filmmaking Tips From Stanley Kubrick” ” http://indiemoviemaking.com/20-filmmaking-secrets-every-filmmaker-should-know/ (30 November, 2012)
Bradshaw, P. (2008)“Searching for an auteurThe Guardian” RSA fellowship.http://www.thersa.org/fellowship/journal/archive/autumn-update2008/features/searching-for-an-auteur (2008)
Charouk, T. (2013) “To the Wonder’ marred by nonsensical plot, Terrence Malick film struggles to connect with audience”http://www.tuftsdaily.com/arts/to-the-wonder-marred-bynonsensical-plot-1.2823662(April 16, 2013)
Cherry, K. (2006) “The Id, Ego and Superego The Structural Model of Personality” http://psychology.about.com/od/theoriesofpersonality/a/personalityelem.htm (2003)
Dicker, R. (2011)“The Frugal Auteur: How Low-Budget Film Legend Roger Corman Makes Cheap Great”http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/05/20/the-frugal-auteur-how-low-budgetfilm-legend-roger-corman-makes/(May 20th 2011)
Edgar, A. (2011) “The Relationship Between Art and the Soul” Cardiff School of English, Communication and Philosophyhttp://cardiffsciscreen.blogspot.com/2011/03/relationshipbetween-art-and-soul-by.html(23 March 2011)
Eltantawi, S. (2013) “Egypt: a coup or the will of people” http://www.fairobserver.com/360theme/end-morsi (31 July 2013)
Goodfellow,M. (2012)“Egyptian film rebels form breakaway union”http://www.screendaily.com/egyptian-film-rebels-form-breakawayunion/5049977.article (13 December, 2012)
Hopwood, J. (2009) “ Stanley Kubrick: Visual Auteur”http://www.examiner.com/article/stanley-kubrick-visual-auteur(17 September 2007) Keyes, G. (1999) ”From Behaviorism to Brain Scans: Psychological Advertising & Popular Culture”http://www.advertisingmetaphorically.com/1/post/2011/12/from-behaviorism-tobrain-scans-psychological-advertising-popular-culture.html(12 May 2011)
Kozak, S. (2013) “How to Become An Auteur Director” http://edictive.com/blog/how-tobecome-an-auteur-director/ (2013) Iannone, P. (2013) The roots of neorealismhttp://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sight-soundmagazine/features/deep-focus/roots-neorealism(2 May 2013)
Mahmoud, S. (2012) “Voices of Egypt’s Jews Resurface in Film”http://english.alakhbar.com/node/13305 (2 November 2012)
Moran, M. (1999) “The Problem With Auteurism”http://personal.markmoran.net/Writing/Film%20Intro%20%20Final%20Paper.html (27 April, 1999)
Netto, J.(2000) “Psychoanalytic film theory”http://www.nettonet.org/Nettonet/Film%20Program/theory/psycho_theory.htm (April, 2000)
Sarris, A. (2004) “ Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962,” http://dramaandfilm.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/files/2011/06/Sarris-Notes-on-the-AuteurTheory.pdf (1997)
Shafrir, D. (2006) Bored of Directors,Why can't a screenwriter be an auteur, too?http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_gist/2006/10/bored_of_directors.htm l(27Oct.ober2006)
Vivarelli, N. (2013)“Amid Egypt Turmoil, Mohamed Hefzy helps build local Biz”http://variety.com/2013/film/news/amid-egypt-turmoil-mohamed-hefzy-helps-build-localbiz-1200564330/ (16july2013)
Wentz, L. (2011)“How One Cairo Creative Lent His Marketing Skills to the Opposition”http://adage.com/article/global-news/cairo-creative-lent-marketing-skillsopposition/148716/ (07 February 2011)
• Books: •
LoBrutto, V. (2002) “The filmmaker guide to production Design”, Newyork: Allworth Press
Maule, R (2008) “Beyond Auteurism: New Directions in Authorial Film Practices in France, Italy and Spain since the 1980s”, Bristol, Chicago :Intellect Ltd.
Nelmes, J. (2011) “Introduction to film studies”, 5thEd. New York:Routledge
• Films: •
A Beautiful Mind (Ron Howard, 2002)
Asham (Maggi Morgan, 2013)
Coming Forth By Day (Hala Lotfy, 2012).
Egypt’s Jews (Amir Ramsis, 2013)
127 Hours (Danny Boyle, 2012)
Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle, 2008)
To The Wonder (Terrence Malick, 2013)
Published on Dec 19, 2013
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