“The question is: what don’t you do? Not what do you do.”
I love this excerpt from the commentary track of The Game because it can relate in so many ways to every art form, photography included. Communicating with the viewer it’s really a tricky business, you have the responsibility over what’s produced in every single frame. It’s a process of revealing and hiding, saying without saying too much, making it simpler – not dumber, not easier, but simpler – and avoiding the mannerisms.
Thanks to our good friend the Internet, you don’t need to own the DVD to hear, and see David Fincher‘s commentary. The video is only 4:34 min. long, but if you prefer to read just a small transcript of the main ideas just scroll down to read it.
“Here’s the tricky thing.
You’re making a movie.
And the audience knows you have control over everything somebody sees and hears for two hours. Every single thing. And the audience knows that you can show them anything. I mean, you know, you’ve got computers and you can make Tyrannosaurs Rex eat a car. So they know you can do anything.
So the question is: what don’t you do? Not what do you do.
Every time you go to a closeup, the audience knows subconsciously that you’ve made an editorial decision. You’ve said, “Look at this; this is important.”
Well in a movie like this ( The Game ) where everybody’s lying, you can run an audience ragged by showing them things that are supposedly important. Because everything that is a closeup is important, whether it’s important or not. When you cut to a closeup of somebody’s face, you’re going in for a reason, you’re doing it for a reason.
Every time you underline something – and a closeup is an underlining of something – every time you do that, the audience becomes aware of it. (…) So you have to be very very cautious and careful about when you choose to do it. (…) And you have to be so cautious of doing too much cinematic engineering.”