Monday, April 23, 2012

The Rook-Part 4-Meet The People

Films may not be sentient beings as such, but I have always believed that films take on a personality, and "The Rook" was very much shaped by the personality of its producer and director, Eran.

Although he often enjoyed a Bohemian image, Eran had a deep intellectual curiosity, which caused him to look beneath the surface of all things to get to the heart of the matter.  Consciously or not, he surrounded himself with people with similar inclinations.

Martin, the lead, is one of those actors who brings to his characters more questions than answers, offers more in what is not said than in what is said.  He became something of an indie icon during the 90s because he was featured prominently in Hal Hartley's eclectic films, which is part of what drew Eran to him.

Zack, our DP, would go on to direct a  number of intellectually-challenging projects, including a psychological drama that one reviewer called one of the most underrated indie films of the 90s.  He recently directed and shot a film about a bicycle caravan with the theme of "Money or Life" which travels across Europe to join protests in Prague against the IMF and World Bank,

Charlie, our gaffer, was a Vietnam vet who had served as gaffer on a number of Spike Lee projects, working with the often-difficult DP (and later director) Ernie Dickerson.  Dickerson went through ACs and gaffers like water at one point in his career, so the fact that he constantly went back to Charlie tells you something about how talented and astute Charlie was.  I would go on to work with Charlie as DP and camera operator on a number of projects.

Jan, our sound recordist, was also a writer and artist with  degrees in philosophy and comparative literature.

Sebastian, our production designer, was a world-class sculptor and artist.  It wasn't until the film wrapped and I got to know Sebastian outside of production that I not got to appreciate the real artist underneath all the paint and plaster that constantly covered him during the shoot, but alos got to appreciate the person.

I have already spoken of the script and our screenwriter, Richard.

Our AD Van, who I have mentioned extensively, was one of the first ADs I saw work to put not only politically-correct, but sensitive descriptions into the elements of the breakdown (is it that hard to refer to a character as "large" instead of "fat")  Since then, it has become more common, but I'm not surprised that Van is now on the DGA Board in Los Angeles.

Indie film is often driven by the enthusiasm of youth, but Eran had put together a truly veteran team of people that he genuinely enjoyed being around, and I have to say that it was one of the most satisfying situations I ever found myself in.

I have worked on films that "felt" important, and turned out to go unnoticed.  The Rook may not have gone onto widespread fame, but it did attract a cult following, and did get noticed by some critics and festivals.  I truly believe the final product mirrored the collective conscience of the key crew.

All of that depth can only take you so far, and in my next post, I will look at how a dumb mule could throw all these intelligent people for a loop, in a lesson that is right up there with any I ever learned.  It also was the start of another JB rule, and it happened not far from the Upstate New York adventure of The Bet.

No comments: