Thursday, November 17, 2005

Million Dollar Baby deserves its Oscars

I can understand why Million Dollar Baby did so well at the box office and also at the Oscars. It is exquisitely crafted, and Clint Eastwood has created his own style of filmmaking that just works.

Some gems that I picked up from the excellent special features:

  • Lighting - "Sometimes it's what the audience doesn't see that's important"

  • Eastwood's style is to do as few takes as possible, to make it natural and quick. He's the kind of director who will insist on a very tight schedule, which the producers are understandably happy with.

  • The first two points are tied together - if there's minimal setup with lighting etc., you save time. It was a physically very dark film, but that just made it more realistic (or am I making excuses for bad filmmaking? [cheeky grin])

  • Listening is a vital part of acting. Sometimes when working with a new actor, Morgan Freeman will respond to a line with "Mm?". If they repeat their line, they're listening.

  • Morgan Freeman's character Scrap wasn't in the original short story; he was borrowed from another story by the same author (F.X.Toole).

  • Another thing about Clint Eastwood - he'll go with the first draft of a movie and use an improvisational style throughout. The actors were amazed they were working with white pages, not pink or blue or all the various colours they use for rewrites.

  • Instead of yelling "action" at the top of his voice, Eastwood uses more of a "when you're ready" approach. He says that helps the actors "crescendo into the scene". Legend has it that in westerns when you yell action, the actors tense up and frighten the horses.
I've also put a post on my Fundamentalist blog about some of the ideological stuff in the movie. Don't read it unless you've seen the film.


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