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8.26.2013

PRODUCTION JOURNAL: Monday Morning Mixer - 8.26.13

Captain's Log.
Star date: 08.26.13

August 26, 1948 - Hitchcock's Rope released

By 1948, Hitchcock was considered one of Hollywood’s most distinctive, if not finest, filmmakers. And Rope, being his first film from his own production company Transatlantic Pictures, was going to show audiences just what he could do free from studios and producers, like David O. Selznick. Hitchcock settled on dark (even for him) material. The film’s story is a loose retelling of the infamous 1924 Loeb and Leopold murder case in which two very bright, gay students murder a child to prove they can. Patrick Hamilton wrote the play which was adapted by actor Hume Cronyn and playwright  Arthur Laurents. The film ditched all the details of the original crime except the homosexuality and the homicide. In the film, the central couple (played by John Dall and Farley Granger) are two brilliant men who live together and, for all to surmise, are lovers. While their relationship is never named, it was clear enough to many theater owners who banned the film. But even more daring was its execution. Hitchcock wanted to make a film that appeared to have been shot as a single take. Cutting only when the camera settled on dark spaces, Hitchcock created the illusion that the film was taking place in real space and real time. But the reviewers were not amused.  The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther stated, “The film was derided as a trick, an experiment, an exercise in style... novelty of the picture is not in the drama itself, it being a plainly deliberate and rather thin exercise in suspense, but merely in the method which Mr. Hitchcock has used to stretch the intended tension for the length of the little stunt.” ~~ Focus Features
To make a film is to constantly ask questions; What is your story about? Who do you cast in it? How do you shoot it? etc.  But after a while, once you figure out what works, you may find yourself in a monotonous pattern of filmmaking.  Maybe that's what happened to Hitchcock even though he was a master. And maybe that's why he chose to do something different with Rope once he had the leverage to be independent from the studio system.  As independent filmmakers, you are already freed from the shackles of the studio system (although, many of you would probably appreciate the financial stability the shackles provide, [but I digress]) but monotony is still a threat to your creativity. So, to prevent the monotony from settling in, here are two questions to ask yourself on your next project: 
  1. What kind of stylistic or aesthetic experimentation can you partake with your film? 
  2. What controversial subject matter can you tackle?    
And then here are some more questions to grow on...

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