Something occurred to me last night.
Most films are orchestral. And by that I mean they are structured, they are ordered. Everyone in the orchestra has their own set and defined roles. They all play music under the direction of the conductor, and according to the score sheets in front of them written by the composer.
The music is formal, at times stiff, and as well, clearly defined. When you go to a concert hall to hear an orchestra play Beethoven’s Fifth, you know what you’re going to hear. Sure, there’ll be some subtle variations according to the interpretation of the conductor, but basically you’re going to hear Beethoven’s Fifth.
The other thing about films being orchestral is that they are large. They are large and they are cumbersome. And because they are large they allow no deviation. A pianist playing Rachmaninov’s 2nd piano concerto isn’t allowed to deviate markedly from Rachmaninov’s original score. And everyone else in that supporting orchestra knows their role and what to do and when to do it.
And when it all clicks it’s magnificent.
Orchestras can and do create transcendent music.
As do some films.
They create transcendent imagery.
And they stir emotions and the intellect unlike any other art form.
That’s why I love making films.
I’ve made my fair share of orchestral films in my time. I’ve walked onto sets in the US and the crew has been so large I haven’t know most of their names. I hated that. I’ve worked on films where, if you need to shift the unit to get a shot, it’s taken several hours, there were so many trucks. I’m not joking.
This next film I’m undertaking is not going to be an orchestral film.
It’s going be jazz, baby!
We’re going to be small and nimble and we’re going to riff.
We’re going to play off each other.
We’re going to create something fresh and vibrant and surprisingly unexpected.
A few years back I took my wife Jennifer to a restaurant in New York called Eleven Madison Park. It’s one of these fancy places where you have to book and pay six months in advance. But it was a special occasion – her birthday.
A fancy restaurant like that can also be orchestral. Large and formal and stiff. But what made this particular restaurant great, and interesting for me, was that they based their whole philosophy on Miles Davis – the legendary jazz musician.
Here’s a New Yorker piece on the restaurant, and the influence of Miles Davis:
The restauranteur compiled a list of eleven words that defined the music of Miles Davis, and he printed them up and hung them on the wall of his kitchen to remind himself and his staff that they needed “a little bit of Miles Davis” in their approach. Those words were:
- Endless Reinvention.
These are the words I’ll be bringing to this next film…
Does this possibly mean that I will not be living is a properly staffed and stocked oversized personal trailer while letting Joe flow?
Oh, Miles Davis music or philosophy set to The Way, My Way stroll … I like the sound of that 🙂