Gems from the archive of A-BitterSweet-Life: “‘Extending the language of film sometimes starts with just trying to show one true thing.’ If there is one thing that can be said about Samuel Fuller—besides his fantastic, out-there personality—it is that his understanding of film and its language is profound, and in these two episodes from the French TV Series ‘Cinéma Cinémas,’ he gives the viewer an intimate view on the creativity behind a filmmaker. Bringing to mind Robert Bresson’s notion on only showing the necessary, Fuller explains his dislike for establishing shots since they ‘show’ nothing:
I just hate a shot that shows a city or a street, and nothing happens. I don’t mind an establishing shot—even of a mountain, I don’t care, that’s a beautiful shot, snow, beautiful—if in that shot you pull back and there’s a little lovely lady, and she says to her son, “Isn’t this lovely? It’s Switzerland,” and he blows her head off, “Yes.” Something has to happen for me to have that full shot is what I’m talking about.
He then proceeds to explain how one ought to begin a film with a punch, an idea he brings into his films from his days as a crime reporter who believed the enticement of a story rested in the beginning, in the title.
Hey, Mom, Where’s My Suicide Note Collection?
Samuel Fuller interviewed
By Richard Thompson, Movietone News No. 50 (.pdf)
Fuller also shares great advice for directors on any level, whether working in independent or studio films. For him, a director is suppose to be able to ‘utilize what he has in front of him right there.’ This could not be any more true. Fuller adheres to preparation of course, however, he makes the important note that the act of directing involves a control of the present moment. Thus, Samuel Fuller’s advice to young filmmakers:
So for the benefit of all the young men who want to make a picture, always be in a position to control what you want because you never get another chance. You can not alibi. You can’t say later, when the picture is out, “Oh, I wanted to do this, I wanted to do that.” Do what you have to do when you do it. And if it stinks, you take the blame. And if it’s successful, if they like it, and especially if it makes money, you take all the praise. With drinks of course.
Enjoy Cinéma Cinémas: Samuel Fuller!”
In Richard Schickel’s ‘The Men Who Made the Movies: Sam Fuller’ (2002), the director discusses his philosophy about filmmaking, life experiences, specific films and key scenes in his movies.
Also highly recommended is the 1996 documentary ‘The Typewriter, the Rifle & the Movie Camera’ narrated by Tim Robbins, and with the participation of Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch, and Martin Scorsese.
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