TMA 285 DIRECTOR’S REFLECTION
Write an overall response to your film in 2-3 paragraphs: Were you successful at achieving what you set out to achieve? What are you proud of? What would you do differently if you could remake this piece? What did you learn?
Viva Zapata! has a lot of powerful moments, I was a little intimidated by the screenplay and the fact that the film was directed by Elia Kazan. I feel good about the final result, I liked the production design and even though I had a hard time trying to find the location I wanted, I found a good location and made it work. One of my favorite things was the blocking I feel it worked pretty well.
I enjoyed shooting a scene in one take, I learned a lot about the importance of blocking and having motivated camera movements, when done right, those elements help the performances feel more believable. If I was to remake the film, I’ll make sure every single camera movement is planned and purposeful and I’ll make sure the actors know their lines and be very decisive about what the camera sees,
Briefly discuss the following:
What, specifically, did you want to communicate? Were you successful? Why? Why not?
I wanted to communicate Emiliano Zapata’s struggle as he has to kill his friend. I wanted to show this as Emiliano’s internal fight and Fernando and Pablo are the voices inside Zapata’s head.
When Zapata decides on killing his friend he becomes a fallen hero because he gave in yo Fernando’s voice.
I think by the time I got to shoot in the actual location, it was difficult to get all the things I have planned, I couldn’t get zapata in the middle of Fernando and Pablo as I first envisioned. When I tried to move up and down to change the eyeline It wasn’t clear enough
How, specifically, did you try to communicate this?
Zapata has only one line but it was important to see his reaction throughout and the influence the words of Pablo and Fernando had on hi, he was supposed to look somewhat disconnected but very lost in thought as trying to figure out what to do. The light was an important element to create that as Zapata get’s closer to the light is because he is closer to Pablo, as he is pulled back to the dark is because he has made up his mind and then he is standing right where Fernando was when he pulls the trigger.
What did you learn about storytelling:
It was interesting to read all the script and then when selecting the script trying to figure out how to communicate what was happening. I wanted this scene to stand on it’s own without having to know everything about the story.
I think it’d be useful to think of every scene of a movie as an individual piece, for some movies that won’t necessarily work but if we plan it and consider it on it’s own, the final product will be a lot more powerful.
What did you learn about working with actors and getting performance:
I learned that having auditions and talking to the actors before time it’s very important. It was because I had an audition that I discovered my first option to play Fernando’s character wasn’t really working and I had time to change. I also had a chance to talk to the actors before hand so by the time we were on set everything went smooth.
Something I wished I’ve done is to have the actors read the entire script instead of having me tell them what happened.
What did you learn about blocking the camera and actors?
One takes are the best way to practice blocking, it pushes you to find the most effective way to move and communicate what you want without having the safety of coverage. I learned that one of the reasons the director’s breakdown is important is because the motivations tell you where to put the camera and how to move the character.
What did you learn about visual elements such as lighting, composition, framing, etc.?
I’m a colorist and I can’t help but focusing too much in color so shooting black and white is a good way to change that. I love black and white and shooting this gave me an opportunity to use that lack of color as an advantage, I don’t mind having lights that can be seen in frame and in this case I wasn’t planning on it, but I ended up not minding having some of those lights visible.
What did you learn about design and art direction?
I was trying to keep the film on a budget but I just couldn’t help but getting more costumes and props and I’m glad I did because it added a lot to the final product.
I wish I had visited the location with a lot more time because I would’ve found a way to cover all the cables that can be seen in the ceiling.
What did you learn about the Production Process such as pre-production, collaborating with crew, securing equipment, etc.?
This is the first time I got an AD to help me and I found it extremely useful. It took a lot of pressure off my shoulders both on-set and during pre-production.
What was it like to watch your film with an audience? Did they understand it? Miss the point? Why did they respond the way they did?
It’s really good to watch the film in front of an audience because it made me feel accountable about my work. I think most people got the message and the feedback was extremely useful because I actually went and changed something I was already insecure about. After everyone confirmed that the ending wasn’t working I changed it and the ending became stronger.