This Isn’t Mission Difficult…

…it’s Mission Impossible.

Yeah, right. I’ve spent the evening watching MI2 hoping to get some shots from John Woo that I could rip off. Okay, copy. Okay. Get some kind of inspiration. Thing is, I can’t rip those shots off. John Woo’s style is more than individual shots. It’s about pacing, it’s about action, it’s about the way he puts things together.

Honestly, I urge you, if you haven’t seen it for a while, do watch Mission Impossible 2 again. It really is a great film. The script is by Robert Towne, for gawd’s sake. And the stunts are absolutely superb. I also have a lot of respect for Tom Cruise. Don’t underestimate him. He’s is one of America’s great exports and how we (in the rest of the world) view you guys, image wise. Plus the way he shows women is verrrry sexy. Is it wrong to say that?

There’s actually a great scene where Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is trying to convince this woman he needs her help. It takes place on a balcony with a great view over Seville. He says this. She says that. Then he turns his back on her, because he’s so frustrated. And what Woo does, is he lets the silence linger. He keeps varying the camera angles, but the scene unfolds, emotionally, without words. That’s what good moving images are about.

That aside, what I’ve concluded is that John Woo’s main style relies heavily on two things: fantastic dolly grip work and judicious use of slow motion. There are also a few scenes where the actors are composited onto a background which they obviously weren’t part of during shooting. How can I tell this? Only one way–depth of field. The things which are in focus shouldn’t all be in focus in one photographic image–eg. the flamenco sequence.

So, hats off to Mark Meyers, the dolly grip, because he *makes* this film, even though his credit is buried. And I’ve been inspired to use slow motion wherever possible. Which will no doubt hack off my cameraman, Andy, who is coming out at the last minute to work with me again. And I also got some inspiration to use a dutch tilt at the beginning of The Car. Which Woo doesn’t use, but I kind of like it.

There you go.

The F-minus story of the day involves speaking to the audio post production guru regarding mono sound versus DTS, which is apparently an either/or choice, thinking about percussion as the music track (if any is included) and revisiting Sarratt, my village location, to find a place to do reverse angles from the police station (shots) in Pinner. Can do.

Also, I discover my light meter doesn’t work, so have to replace it, talking to the art director, losing my continuity person, almost (but not) getting another camera assistant with tons of experience and thinking about all kinds of things.

One of the things I was thinking about is that we are going to hack off the good people of Sarratt inevitable. As a caring kind of new agey guy, I worry about that. I don’t want people to be upset because of something I’m doing. Then, on the other hand, you’ve got the Andy (cameraman/DP) philosophy which is that the only thing which matters is the image you get on the celluloid. I need to adopt that. Toughen up.

As part of my get tough on me policy, I’ve decided that my director self needs to divorce my producer self. I hope this works out okay and we get joint custody of the film, our baby. Otherwise I’ll have to kick my butt. But I’m not sure if it will be about my career or my caring for the community. As long as it’s not for compromising too early in that negotiation, the film should grow up healthy and strong. What more can you ask?

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