Before the advent of digital cameras, the time limit of a take was set by the length of the film in a reel. Now that cameras can run the clock in excess of any celluloid reel, standard feature length films without cuts are possible. However, only a handful of releases have ever attempted such a feat. The process is certainly a gamble and it takes a confident or foolish director to eschew the all-important coverage that might save a sequence in the edit. Editing is more than simply a safety net, but, when falling through a single-shot shoot, the filmmakers might wish they had one.
Mistakes aside, a filmmaker's purposive narrative, meaning and style will most often change dramatically in the editing suite. Despite what originally might have seemed settled in the script and on the set, the keen focus with hindsight in the editing process has a way of turning what initially seemed prescient into the myopic. To go forward without the benefit of an editor requires that the puzzles that might present themselves in post-production are solved before you call action. Fortune favours the bold, though, and sometimes a limitation is a blessing. Certain films show that the create a distinct experience. While Hitchcock's Rope and Iñárritu's Birdman are masterpieces of single-shot fakery, they're to be disqualified for the advantages of hidden cuts and digital stitching. The focus here is on those audacious films that attempt to never require splicing of any kind.
This week sees the UK cinema release of German actor-director Sebastian Schipper's film Victoria. A two-hour thriller constructed as a single take, Schipper's daring gambit is just the latest in a short but remarkable line of single-shot feature films. Victoriasees the eponymous lonely soul, played by Laia Costa, meet her first friends since moving to Berlin, subsequently careening from nightclub flirting to armed robbery in the course of one relentlessly heady night. The film was plotted but not scripted or blocked, which meant improvisation from both cast and crew during each take. The production spent three months preparing and rehearsing, fastidiously working out the logistics, even down to how small issues like the opening of a door might derail an entire night's work. The hard graft paid off, three takes was all it took and the last one was a keeper.
Read more at The 405 here
Art & Design
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