Author Topic: Memo to the Filmmakers  (Read 6786 times)

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Offline BalanceTheEnergies

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Memo to the Filmmakers
« on: February 09, 2009, 06:57:35 AM »
I've been continuing to consider all the casting notions for a while, since I stumbled upon this site--hmmm, does Malcolm McDowell still have that youthful face with grey hair, for if so, he'd do very well as Judhael of Meara...and wouldn't Sam Neill do nicely for Ciard O Ruane--and I've thought back to the recent NPR series of memos to President Obama. Since we've been casting the piece, why not be hanged for sheep as well as for a lamb? In other words, if you were to be able to tell the filmmakers what you want to see in Deryni movies, what would you say? Are there scenes that must stay in the films, and why? Is there a director whose style you think would be most appropriate? How do you imagine MindSpeech, shields, Wards Major, healing, or any of the other wondrous things being depicted onscreen?

I'll start by suggesting the films be shot in HD. I finally got around to watching The Other Boleyn Girl this weekend, and like a lot of film geek types, I had to start by viewing the featurettes, watch the film through once, then watch the film a second time with the commentaries on. The director was pointing out the details captured by the HD cameras, singing the praises of the set designers and costume designers since the technology captures so much detail. As he was talking, I found myself thinking several things about Deryni films:

  • Deryni powers and their use enhance the senses and concentration. So many major characters are Deryni and use their powers on a regular basis, and even when they aren't actually extending sight and hearing (though that happens a great deal as well), they are concentrating in order to use them. Since we are meant to sympathize not only with particular good Deryni, but also with good Deryni in general, such an enhanced perception of detail could subtly underline this sympathy throughout the films. On the other side of the coin, the Deryni villains tend to use their powers to make their magical and emotional blows more telling--consider Wencit torturing Derry, or Charissa binding Brion's soul. HD could turn up the emotional volume in these situations.
  • The baggage that goes with the Deryni keeps everyone alert. This applies to all the characters. With the fears of humans and Deryni alike comes increased attention to details, especially in matters of behaviour and expression. No one can tell a Deryni from physical appearance (Morgan's joke about cloven hooves notwithstanding), so people scrutinize each other a great deal. Fearful humans worry that other people could turn out to be Deryni. Deryni who aren't open about their identities (Duncan in earlier books, Arilan) are vigilant for signs that others may suss them out. Open Deryni like Morgan are acutely aware of their interactions with others, looking for threats and managing their public image by taking cues from people around them. The actors portraying all this will be doing a great deal of business with facial expressions in particular, and HD will capture all of their efforts.
  • Some reasons for alertness come with the social situation and have little or nothing to do with the Deryni question.  Royal and ducal courts, as well as ecclesiastical gatherings, are highly complex and structured social interactions. Heraldry, wardrobe details, gestures of respect convey meaning, and everybody involved is digesting the information conveyed--everybody is observer and observed. Some of these are key to character; as when Morgan's persona is reflected in his wardrobe: black leathers and visible mail in his "darkling phase" giving way to dark jewel tones at later court functions. The period is also a highly religious age, with many people fasting--a practice which in effect sharpens the senses. Those men with military training will also have the habit of seeing their world in terms of threats and openings--Dhugal spotted some half-dozen openings in the posture of the guard at the gate with him and Sidana when he chose one to exploit and made good his escape. The sharpness of HD could also serve to reinforce these worldviews for the audience.
  • There's an entire cast of props.  Some of these you know by name (the Ring of Fire, the Eye of Rom); they're so important they're capitalized. Others are key players in magical workings or as plot points:  Morgan's gryphon signet (which he is wont to use as focus in the Thuryn method) and his ward cubes, the King's Champion chain of office (that Charissa uses against her foes), Duncan's sleeping lion brooch, the Haldane lion brooch, Istelyn's ring, Maryse's shiral pendant, Sidana's wedding ring, the Camber medals. There are weapons that recur: the Haldane sword, Morgan's wrist stiletto. And lest we forget, Kelson has a selection of crowns to contend with, from simple circlets to Caitrin's crown to the State Crown of Gwynedd (to name but a few). There are even cameo roles by mundane objects, like the candle defiantly burning after anathema was pronounced against Morgan and Duncan. Note that none of these items is large--most of them are actually jewelry. HD is excellent with details and can give these things the attention they demand.
  • Many scenes are on an intimate scale. Mostly this relates to Deryni magic: the climate of fear demanding discretion, the intimate nature of many workings (sharing information via Sight, MindSpeech, healing), even the notion (which Kelson and Morgan foster) that physical contact with a subject's head is required. Thus the physical spaces in many scenes are constricted. Also, many events are private rather than public--conversations in studies and bedrooms and chapels and tents, with crowns and coronets and titles set aside. Indeed, within the big public events are micro scenes (such as the looks and gestures between Kelson and Mátyás at the Torenthi court). HD does look well when filming small-scale interiors.

So what about the rest of you? What do you think the MindSpeech voiceovers should sound like? How would you handle the memories, the mental summaries of events the audience has already seen? How would you depict Dhugal's reaching through the horse to connect with Ciard? What about the emotions that get Sent? The wordless "sounds" of inquiry?
Dubito ergo sum


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