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The Director's Chair Issue #9 – Dec. 30, 2000 (Staging and Choreography)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

December 30, 2000          Scene 1 – Take 9

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Web Site: http://www.actioncutprint.com

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1.  Introduction
2.  Looking for Volunteers
3.  Action-Cut-Print!
4.  Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
5.  Quote of the Month
6.  Feature Article – Quick Reference Directing List (Part 2)
7.  Directing Tip – Acting Books
8.  The New Media – Roger Ebert on Digital Movies
9.  Film Links of Interest – History of Cinema
10.  Out Takes – Movie Cliches: Bombs
11.  Share This Ezine
12.  Suggestions & Comments
13.  Copyright Information
14.  Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information


Welcome to Issue # 9 of The Director’s Chair (December 30, 2000)

a) Many thanks to all those subscribers who participated in the
survey I sent out on last month.

b) The Feature Article this month is the Quick Reference
Directing List (Part Two) containing a few directing “rules and
guidelines” I have collected over the years.

c) In the The New Media section is an article by the film critic
Roger Ebert on the future of Digital Film Making.

All the best to everyone around the world this holiday season and
may 2001 bring you much happiness, good health … and plenty of


Peter D. Marshall


Calling all Volunteers! If you would like to contribute articles,
tips, links of interest, industry news, interviews, special event
dates or other resources to The Director’s Chair, please contact
me at: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com

3. ACTION-CUT-PRINT! –  A Web Site for Film Makers

If you are a Film or TV Director; a working professional who
wants to Direct; a film student who would like to learn more
about Directing; or a “student of film” who just wants to know
more about Film Making from the pros, Action-Cut-Print! is for

Take a moment now to visit
http://www.actioncutprint.com/home.html where you will find over
1000 Online Resources for Film Makers; where you will learn
Directing tips and techniques from the pros and where you will
discover the very best strategies and techniques for promoting
and marketing your own Film and TV Web Site.


To read back issues of The Director’s Chair, visit:


“To many, dramatic criticism must seem like an attempt to tattoo
soap bubbles.”

John Mason Brown

6. FEATURE ARTICLE – Quick Reference Directing List (Part 2)

Quick Reference Directing List (Part 2)

Over the past 20 years, I have read many books and articles on
Film Directing. As I read, I underline or yellow certain
sentences or paragraphs that contain valuable information. I then
take these marked sentences and type them into a Quick Reference
Directing file on my computer where I sort them into specific
categories, print them out and keep them in my binder for quick

The following list contains just a few of the “rules and
guidelines” that I have accumulated over the years.  To review
Part One, visit: http://www.actioncutprint.com/ezine-7.html

STAGING AND CHOREOGRAPHY – dramatic use of the camera and
cinematic techniques to illuminate the truth

1) Staging Space
– stage across the frame (left to right / right to left)
– in-depth staging (FG to BG / BG to FG)
– circular staging

2) Staging Methods
– zone (organize isolated groups or individuals in the same
– man to man (organize according to the movement of the

3) Staging Techniques
– static camera
– moving camera
– static subjects
– moving subjects

4) Basic Camera Movement
– move for emphasize (camera approaches the actor)
– move to emphasize one subject in a group
– transferring attention from one subject to another
– connecting and introducing movement (from one space or another)

5) Shot Plan (where the camera is placed)
– whose POV is being expressed
– what distance are we from the subject (size of shot)
– what is our relationship to the subject (angle of view)
– are we comparing points-of-view (cutting or moving the camera)

6) Narrative (specific action described in the script
– narrative logic ( following action of one or more characters)
– eye contact (where an actor looks)
– shot size (closer the size, the greater the intimacy)

7) Dramatic Emphasize (elements which colour our emotional
understanding of scene)
– primary concern is shot size and the placement of the
subjects in the frame

8) Pictoral Considerations
– composition, framing, lighting, lenses

9) The Dramatic Circle of Action
– place the camera in the action
– place the camera outside the action

7.  DIRECTING TIP – Read These Books!!!

If you are serious about directing drama, you need to know as
much as you can about working with actors. Two of the best books
I have read on how to direct actors and on the acting process

1) “Directing Actors – Creating Memorable Performances for Film
and Television” by Judith Weston

2) “Respect for Acting” by Uta Hagen and Haskel Frankel

8. THE NEW MEDIA – Roger Ebert on Digital Movies

David Ferris (“Macworld”) asked Roger Ebert – a staunch Mac user
and the influential reviewer of Chicago Sun-Times and Roger Ebert
& the Movies fame – about the future of digital and desktop
movies and the role they’ll play in your life.

9. FILM LINKS OF INTEREST – History of Cinema

1) Scene 1: The History of Film

2) Early Cinema

3) Film History by Decade

4) Cinema Sites: History & Journals

5) Brief History of Film, Video, and Television Technology

10.  OUT TAKES – Movie Cliches: Bombs

1) Evil geniuses who devise bombs to destroy things/people always
have them detonate after at least an hour, giving the hero ample
time to defuse it.

2) Bombs always have big, blinking, beeping timer displays. Evil
geniuses who devise bombs to destroy things/people are always
thoughtful enough to include a visible display (usually LED) of
how much time remains before the bomb detonates, giving the hero
accurate feedback on exactly how much time remains.

3) When you cut the wire to the detonator, the timer will stop.
You will not be able to do this, however, until only one second

4) All wires have different colors, so the hero can easily
differentiate them when he has to cut the right one.

5) Bombs detonated with microwave ovens always explode 2 seconds
after the timer reaches 00:00 and the microwave oven beeps (ex.
“Under Siege”).

6) Explosions always happen in slow motion. When an explosion
occurs, make certain you are running away from the point of
detonation so the blast can send you flying, in slow motion,
toward the camera.

7) A building that in real life would require several dozen
carefully placed explosive charges for demolition, can in a movie
be destroyed by a single bomb in a car trunk (see “Lethal Weapon
III”). This bomb will cause no damage to any other building on
the block.


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