Why Do I Love These Shots?

[cross-posted at extracriticum.com]

I was looking through the Extra Criticum archive and being a person who would rather look at images than read, I clicked on Rolando Teco’s “Why Do I Like This Shot?” It made me think of a question I’m sometimes asked (usually by fellow filmmakers) when I screen one of my films. “What’s your favorite shot?”

I can’t really choose one, but here’s two of many. To say that they are on the cutting room floor isn’t quite accurate. These shots were known to be unusable from the get go.

(Note: The first clip is without sound, the second has sound.)

The first clip is from Tango Octogenario. I called, “Cut, that’s a wrap,” and  the cinematographer, Wolfgang Held, let the last few feet of the film run out of the magazine. I’m so glad he did. The fluttering you see is the A.C.’s hand in front of the lens. I love the expressionistic quality of these few feet of film, but most of all, I love the smiles on the Turneys’ faces.

The second clip was the conclusion of my interview with architect and philosopher Paolo Soleri. This was the first interview we shot for the documentary and landing Soleri as a subject was colossal. Soleri is a sweet man, and generous, but not when he’s in front of a camera. In fact, he loathes cameras. I was intimidated beyond belief and he sensed my fear, no question. He controlled much of the interview and toyed with my questions, frequently answering them with one word answers.

But I persevered and reframed many of my questions and when it was over, I felt like I got the job done, and more. Wolfgang let the camera roll again and he captured my relief and gratitude. It really was one of the great joys of my life meeting Soleri. I love his laugh when I tell him that, and his offering of his hand at that moment is much more than a civil handshake. I actually was holding back tears then and if you listen closely you can hear me sniffling.

So why do I love these shots?

Because they were taken at the end of the shoot. When I look at them, I remember the relief I felt at those moments but also the joy at having completed something, and I think both of those things show up in my face. Of course the films weren’t complete, there was still post-production with Tango, and there is a lot more footage to shoot and post for A Life’s Work, but I like to think my expression is kind of like that of a cyclist who finished first during an early stage of the Tour de France. He’s happy he has a win under his belt, but he knows there’s a lot more race left.

What’s your reaction to these clips? Obviously, they mean a lot to me, like a snapshot of my family means a lot to me. But to you…? Well, you tell me. What do you make of these?

The next post: The Shot That Got Away.

2 Replies to “Why Do I Love These Shots?”

  1. The first clip you all look and know that you have done something special,maybe magical.The second clip Soleri looks guarded,and complex.The hand shake is something special the way he extends his hand almost like a captain of a ship who approves of the green horns work after they make it to port.

  2. Thanks for leaving such a thoughtful comment, John. I wish I could say I knew I had done something magical when we rapped “Tango,” but I really was thinking, “God, I’m so relieved we got this in the can!”

    I like the nautical metaphor on the Soleri clip. Very nice.

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