Orson Welles Interview

To start off I have never seen an Orson Welles film, so being unfamiliar with his work or characteristics, I am coming into this fresh and intrigued. With the small information about the film’s score, what caught my attention was the ending of Orson’s note to Herrmann, “I love you dearly.” I understand this has little to do with the film or music but this form of personal connection between the director and musical director is interesting to me. I don’t know if any of today’s film directors would ever use that sort of ending to a work-related letter or note. It could just be a friendly gesture of some kind but possible to have some hidden sexual meaning, I’m not aware of Welles’s sexuality but it did catch my attention. Another striking moment from the interview came when Welles’s said he filmed the movie behind the studio’s back by calling it testing shots. Amazing to hear such a daring process to filming it because if the studio didn’t like the work, they could have denied the release. Creatively it was a great idea because without any studio “spies”, everyone can be a real collaborative team to filming the best possible movie. I would be amazed if anyone in today’s film productions got away with this, because big studio films always require a lot of invested money and don’t want filmmakers sneaking behind their backs on a project.

Orson saying that he did his own lighting and felt like he could do it and direct as well, was very relatable to me. For myself, I imagined if I didn’t get a chance to be a film director or screenwriter, the last thing to go for would be director of photography. The job of being in control of the audiences eyes, it is fascinating to have so much responsibility but also so much creative fun. As Welles got help from Gregg Toland, I found it very bold to give Toland his own spotlight for his name in the credits. Today it is more common to give multiple people that spotlight, even when audiences don’t notice it. For Welles to do it in a time where it wasn’t common is what astonishes me. The director of photographer has an incredibly important job that should be recognized, even though Toland taught the basics to Welles over the weekend. Welles also begins to mention his doubts or self-conscious feelings towards the film. The issue of having too many upward angled shots revealing a ceiling, Welles says “I think I over-did it”. But I wonder if he’s talking about the low angle shots or the ceiling? Whichever it is, it’s good to see he has a perfectionist side that can present his artistic complexes.

On the other hand, he seems very unique in not looking through a lens for the shot. The idea that he doesn’t need to look through the lens to see if it’s good or not is amazing. The confidence in holding out a hand and saying this is where the camera should go, is remarkable. I thought most directors use a storyboard for a visual guide. Personally I think every director should storyboard the script before production starts to be prepared and focused for the filming. Welles not doing any of that and having this intuitive, spontaneous decision making is really  different from modern directors. Preparation should be a key thing for filming, Welles seems to be saying that if a director has different camera views, that director is doubting the work. I’m not exactly sure I can agree because scenes in any film can’t be presented in only one view. There are different emotions and actions that need to be present in a scene at different moments. To keep a camera view frozen on one view for a full scene would be kind of boring or stiff. I haven’t seen any of his films before so I’m not sure if my assumption is correct on his camera methods on film. For me I definitely draw out specific angles I want by preparing storyboards.

By the way, the “I’m expiring” excuse is a really funny way to finishing an interview. I wonder if any one of us would be as daring.

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3 Responses to “Orson Welles Interview”

  1. This production really was unusual, in many of the ways you’ve pointed out. Welles was able to work around the stranglehold of the studio system here, although the fallout from Kane meant that few directors after him would be so fortunate, at least for several decades.

    By the way, I’m fairly confident Welles relationship with Hermann was strictly professional 🙂

  2. I agree with what you have to say about his opinion of preparation being the key thing. In a way I guess it’s good to be prepared but it is sometimes the spontaneous ideas or sometimes the unintentional mistakes that can make the project look even better. Keeping the camera frozen would be, as you said, “bland”

  3. Preparation is the key to make a great film. For example, storyboarding is an essential factor in the process of making a film, yet this is something the audience either not aware of or just takes for granted.

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