Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Loach and Leigh.

Apologies for not writing in over a week. My page view graph has flatlined at zero and such objective feedback is hard to take and makes me embarrassed.

I’ve been lazy over the Easter period, I predicted it happening.

I am back into working ways now and have spent the morning reading articles and highlighting relevant points and including them in my reflective journal. I’ve read two lengthy interviews with Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, both of which have been very useful. I would like to find more critical analysis of some of their film, as opposed to simple reviews.

I related what Loach and Leigh said in the interviews to my own work and have come up with some thoughts, I guess, in response to some of the critique of my short films.

Optimism is long term. The characters are in the here and now, living in the moment and I’m giving the viewer a glimpse of that. To portray them with optimism would only seem contrived and fake. Humour and harnessing the amazing human capacity for people down on their luck to be funny is one way to break up the pessimism or realism. It is important this is not perceived as trite or cheap as it’s pivotal to avoiding creating stereotypical characters. An individual reacting with dry humour to bad situations keeps them human and realistic.

I think I need to continue writing and exploring script ideas and ideally try to keep the scripts as loose as possible to allow for improvisation. This feels like it could be difficult as I am not working with professional actors but with friends and people around me. Loach is well known for using people who aren’t actors in his work, though those people are always from the area he is filming and have a lot in common with the characters of his films. It may be difficult to find such characters at an art school, keeping in mind that my disillusionment with art school is partly what’s driven me to create this style of work.

I need to focus on the humour in my writing, not just for comic relief and definitely not to appease the smiley-happy brigade but, as I said before, to maintain a realistic human feel to the characters, to make them more three-dimensional and not stereotypical. In my critique a few weeks ago, the mature German Phd student who leads my group and speaks brilliant English, used the word silhouette instead of stereotype. I liked this as it made me realise I need to ensure my characters are not simply outlines but are fully rounded entities.

This reading of Ken Loach and Mike Leigh has been invaluable on a number of levels. Here are two quotes from each man that I have picked out from the interviews.
"It’s a mark of how much the right wing has triumphed that people just associate strikes with inconvenience."
- Ken Loach
"I do this because my job – and this is what all artists do whatever the medium, because all art is based on improvisation and order – is to start something that grows all over the place and then figure out how to shape it into something that’s coherent."
- Mike Leigh on negotiating with actors as creative collaborators
Not a total disaster for a first post in a while.

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