Aesthetic ConfidencesWritten by Brandon Tonner-Connolly
for Filmmaker Magazine, 09/04/2019
In April 1980, actor Sam Neill and screenwriter Frederic Tuten were sitting next to each other on a flight from Paris to New York. The two were about to embark on the making of a film and had been spending time with its director in France. Tuten was new to screenwriting but had already picked up on the hierarchy of above-the-line talent and was amazed the producers had sprung for him to sit in first class with the lead actor. He offhandedly asked Neill, “Isn’t this whole film world just about money?” Neill corrected him, “It’s not about money, it’s about feelings. The producer feels this might be the right director, the director feelsthis might be the right actor… There’s no empirical evidence for anything; it’s all emotional in some way. It’s run on emotions. Money is just the skis you glide on.”
The film they made is Possession (1981), and, in a way that has provoked extreme reactions of adoration or disgust since its release, it is a work of art running on pure emotion.
Directed by Polish expressionist filmmaker Andrzej Żuławski, the film succeeds beautifully in, to steal a phrase from Siegfried Kracauer, “[externalizing] the fermentation of inner life.” Possession is the physical manifestation of psychological stress, the cinematic representation of extreme states of emotion. It’s an absolute masterpiece of what it’s like to feel bad.
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The Seven Arts of Working in Film: A Necessary Guide to On-Set ProtocolWritten by Brandon Tonner-Connolly
for Filmmaker Magazine, 04/14/2015
Welcome to your first day on a film set.
Perhaps you’ve gotten a new job as a production assistant. Perhaps you’re still in school and have been given an opportunity as an intern, or you’ve recently been asked to help out with a friend’s production. You probably have some questions.
I’m writing this because I’d like to try to answer some of those questions in advance, and because I have hope.
Hope that maybe the next time I ask someone to sweep up some glass that just broke, I won’t have to explain where to get a broom, how to use a dustpan and what to do with the glass once it’s in the dustpan.
Hope that the next time I’m having a time-sensitive conversation with another department head at the monitor, I won’t have to turn and repeat the entire conversation to someone who, rather than listening, was staring at their phone.
Hope that no one on a film set will ever again ask me where to get a ladder. (The answer is the Grip Department. The answer is always the Grip Department).
But Isn’t This Supposed to Be Fun?
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