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Documentary Script

Opening Scene: -
Fade in to The Pioneers of Film Narrated by Edward Povey displayed on a silent
film title card.

Introduction: -
Without invention, luck and accident, the film industry wouldn’t be as much of a
financial success as it is today. Although there have been a lot of people who
helped with the creation of the film making industry, I will be going over a few
who innovated the industry more than others.
This leads me into the person I will introduce to you first. In fact it’s not just one
person, but the Lumiere Brothers.

Lumiere Brothers: - 3 mins


Auguste and Louis Lumiere, commonly referred to as just the Lumiere Brothers,
had experience in business, engineering, manufacturing and photography.
With their experience in these subjects, they were able to invent new and
improved photo plates for their camera.

They then became one of the first filmmakers using their invention, the
Cinematograph, which translates to writing with movement. Their film
technique didn’t involve any editing, since they used static shots and just played
them through, to project the illusion of movement onto a wall.

The Cinematograph, which they invented, was an all in one camera and was
compact and light enough for one person to carry. It could record film, develop
film and project the film. It also didn’t require electricity or any other power
source but was instead operated by a hand crank.

In Paris on December 28th 1895, in the basement of the Salon Indien Du Grand
Café, they used the cinematograph for the first time, to display their first ever
projection, that consisted of 10 short films as a private event, before revealing it
to the public.
One of the 10 short films, that was shown that night at the Grand Café was a
train arriving and leaving LA Ciatat station and it was rumoured that the
audience began to run screaming, but was in more recent years debunked,
though, they did probably did get scared like when you watch a horror film
since it wasn’t anything like they had seen before.

Often the Brothers films consisted of Actualates, which were moments of


everyday life documented.

When they started showing their films to the public they were making 7000
francs a week which would be worth approximately over 20,000 Francs in
today’s value.

Eventually in 1905 the Lumiere Brothers packed their bags and called it a day as
they saw no future in the film business.

Around 3 minute mark…


Georges Méliès: - 5 mins
George Méliès, who was fascinated by the Lumiere Brothers Cinematograph,
wanted to be an artist, but his farther wouldn’t allow it and instead wanted him
to take over his luxury shoe making business.

Later, he gained an interest in magic and became a stage magician performing


tricks in his own theatre, called the Theatre Robert-Houdin, this is also where he
first achieved his fame.

After being invited in 1895 to watch the private screening of the 10 short films
shown by the Lumiere Brothers, he was so intrigued with the Cinematograph
that he asked if he could purchase it on the spot, though the Lumiere Brothers
weren’t ready to sell anything at that time.

Not too long later, he decided to purchase an English camera called the
Animatograph and reverse engineered it, making it a film camera. When he was
filming in Paris one day he accidentally stumbled upon the jump cut effect. He
was recording a busy street when the crank stopped working after getting it to
work again he continued filming. Later when developing the film, the shot
changed and people and objects were no longer in the same position.
Once he got his own camera he began developing new techniques and
incorporated his magic into the films he created. This made him one of the first
cinemagicians of the time.

His specialty was experimenting with special effects and building narratives.
George was also the writer, Producer and Director, while also designing and
creating the sets himself, for all his stage shows and films.

It was in 1896 where he began showing all of his films to the public using his
own theatre. One of the special effects he used involved shining light onto the
audience using a lantern projector to make it feel like it was snowing or raining
in the theatre.

Other effects that George actually invented himself referred to as In Camera


Effects consisted of double exposure where 2 images would display on screen at
the same time the second image appearing ghostly, split screen where he
blocks half of the film with a half painted black glass panel and then rewound
the footage and blocked the other side of the film finally another type of split
screen where he would use the same glass panel but paint it into shapes instead
of just half the film.

Using the range of techniques he discovered, he began incorporating them into


his own films making the audience believe that he could levitate heads and
make people disappear, or even change the size and shape of an object.

In 1902 he releases his well-known masterpiece, A Trip to the Moon about


some scientists that travel to the moon, sleep under the stars, battle aliens and
return back to earth triumphant. This 14 minute film consisted of 250 meters of
film which was 3x the length of any films the Lumiere Brothers did at the time.

Thomas Edison who hired W.K.L Dickson to invent the Kinetograph, the world’s
first motion picture film camera saw the success that A Trip to the Moon was
receiving and was one of many who began pirating the film and screen it as his
own.

George Méliès eventually founded his own production company called Star Film
and built a large studio in Montréal, France, that looked like a giant greenhouse
to let in as much natural light as possible. Though a combination of the high
cost of his productions, legal challenges from rivals and World War 1 forced him
out of the film business by 1917.
This made George go into a depressed and raged state where he burned all of
the negatives of his films that he had stored at the Montreal studio, as well as
most of the sets and costumes.

In the late 1920’s he was tracked down by journalists and filmmakers who had
been influenced by his films to celebrate his contribution to the art of cinema.
This led to George earning a knight of the legion medal in October 1931, the
medal was presented to George by Louis Lumiere himself.

Around 8 minute mark


Edwin S Porter: - 3 mins
Before Film Edwin S Porter worked as a sign painter, telegraph operator, minor
inventor and a touring projectionist. He would use a Projectorscope to exhibit
films when touring, as a rival to Thomas Edison.

Porter would assemble and combine various actualates and short films, some
being owned by the Lumiere Brothers, among others and assemble them into
longer feature length films. When doing this he would also choose the order of
what parts of the film he wanted, where he wanted them, and then create
transitions in-between the different clips.

Since Silent films were actually accompanied by live orchestras, pianos, voice
over narration or actors on stage, Porter would also arrange for these himself.

In 1899 Edwin worked as head of production for one of Thomas Edison’s film
studios, where he would edit the stories, operate the cameras, direct the actors
and assemble the final films.

Working as a touring projectionist and head of production for Edison, he was


able to discover new techniques and effects, which he would later start to use
in his own multi-shot films.

The most influential technique that Porter discovered was the Parallel-action or
cross cutting effect. The first successful example of this can be found in his 1902
film ‘Life of an American Firefighter’. The film was very clearly inspired by the
1901 film Fire! Directed by James Williamson, as there are many similarities.

Parallel-action is the technique of showing 2 different scenes or more


happening within the same time frame, and though Porter was responsible for
introducing this concept to the world of film he never used it to its full potential
and allowed others to expand and improve upon it. Cross-Cutting is where you
can go back and forth in time to show different scenes that happened at
different points in time.

Porter’s most acclaimed movie, The Great Train Robbery, which was released in
1902 and used many of Porters techniques such as the parallel-action effect,
but it was also one of the first films to involve the camera panning and tilting
effect. The films last scene also involved a medium close up of a bandit shooting
towards the camera and at the time it was starling since it was much closer than
anything seen before, the scene also inspired another film in the 1990 called
GoodFellas where almost the exact same shot was used.

Around 11 minute mark


D W Griffith
The last pioneer in film worth mentioning Is D W Griffith. As a child Griffith was
fascinated by stories that his father would tell him and it was probably this that
made Griffith into the famous director he became.

In 1907 he was a stage actor and play write but was unable to make success of
it and in that same year he moved to Fort Lee, looking for acting work and
landed a job with the Edison company working as a movie actor. While working
at the company he starred in his first movie called Rescued from Eagles Nest.

In 1908 he left the Edison Company and moved to New York, once again looking
for more work. While in New York he was soon offered another acting job role
for the Biograph film company.

The director’s job at the company required Griffith to make sure that everyone
who was supposed to be in the shot, stays in the shot, since the camera was
static and couldn’t be moved around during filming sessions.

Employed at the Biograph film company, Griffith was offered the chance to
direct his first film, because the original director for the film didn’t turn up that
day. The film is called The Adventures of Dolly.

Griffith had great organization skills and self-belief, and he became a successful
director and directed 60 films in 1908, while in 1909, he directed more than 100
films, most of which were 15 minutes long.
Working as a director, Griffith gained a formidable reputation and actors
trusted his directing skills, which allowed them to improvise in most of his films,
with very little dialogue to guide them, without worrying if it was good or not.

Griffith put into his films, a break- up of shots, which he edited against the
narrative and emotional tempo of the film. He also edited to give greater
continuity and flow to his films, taking crosscutting to a new level.

In 1919 D W Griffith founded the United Artists film and television


entertainment studio together with Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas
Fairbanks.

His career in directing films was going well until around the 1920’s where his
film, Isn’t Life Wonderful, flopped at the box office and he was forced to leave
United Artists. Later, in 1930 and in 1932 he made 2 sound films but neither
were successful and that’s when he left the business permanently.

Lev Kuleshov
Lev Kuleshov father was a wealthy noble before the family becoming financially
broke, when Kuleshov was young. Despite his father’s wishes, he studied
painting, sculpture and architecture.

In 1916 he quit his studies and instead applied to work at Aleksandr


Khanzhonkovfilm’s film company. This is when Kuleshov gained an interest in
the theory of film.

In 1919 he became the head of the first soviet film course and was probably the
very first film theorist, as he lead the soviet montage theory. With his
knowledge and theories he created a film and edited it which is known as the
Kuleshov Effect.

The Kuleshov effect is the principle that you can show a person with no emotion
and then jump cut the shot, to an image of something else. The film he created
consisted of the man, then a bowl of soup, the man again, a dead girl, the man
again and a women laying down and it would convey to the audience that the
person is hungry, upset or had feeling for the women, even though the facial
expression remained the same.

Sergei Eisenstein
Sergei Eisenstein was a soviet filmmaker, fascinated by the techniques and work
that Griffith and Kuleshov used in their films. Since he was a pioneer of film
theory and montage, he would study Griffiths and Kuleshov work, with an
understanding of how to use the same editing effects in his work. He was also a
student studying under Kuleshov for a short time.

In 1920 he moved to Moscow and began working in a theatre for 3 years before
he first began his career as a theorist in 1923, writing a book called, The
Montage of Attractions.

Eisenstein’s focus in creating his films was the different camera angles, crowd
movements and montage. This led him to using these techniques and create
many different propaganda films.

Finally Eisenstein used what he learned to create his critically appraised film
Battleship Potemkin, with his large use of Parallel –action and montage. The
famous scene where everyone runs down the Odessa steps in fright, with the
military following from behind is where you can really see the effects of the
techniques used.

Nouvelle vague / French new wave


The Nouvelle vague, which translates to the French ”new wave”, is where a
bunch of people who worked for newspapers and art magazines, formed
together as a group of directors being François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Éric
Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, and Jacques Rivette.

Their worked opened up the French film industry to many new ways of creating
movies, since they invented new ways to move the camera and use different
camera angles that hadn’t been seen before.

Examples of such are filming from inside of a car while it’s moving with the
passengers talking to one another or the camera moving backwards as the
actors talk with on another walking towards it and even using even closer close
ups, that hadn’t been done before, of the actors faces.

Other film directors from around the picked up on these “new wave”
techniques and began to incorporate these ideas into their own work.
Such advances included the Jump Cut and ignoring the 180 degree rule.

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