Making Movies in One Take or One Hundred
The first days of last week were spent making another House Hunters International episode, my 41st. Four days of taping, about 20 hours of “tape” (although it’s all digital recording now) is edited down to about 20 minutes of the episode, that with commercials, fills a half-hour. The segments are not taped in the order in which they will appear in the show. House #1 might have been taped last, but edited to be the first of the house tours, for example. The “meet and greet,” when the “contributor” and I meet for the “first time” to discuss the search, could as easily be taped last as first. The schedule all depends on a variety of factors to minimize/maximize time…as every moment counts when the producers are paying the crew and all expenses.
This episode was taped with contributor, Jordan Washington, a New York professional dancer who came to Paris to learn about the tourism industry and create a life here. During the taping, I discover that Jordan doesn’t know how to jitterbug, so I teach him. In turn, he teaches me how to do “The Prep.” (I didn’t have a clue what that was.)
Obviously, there’s a real glut of footage because no one knows what the editor is going to deem worthy of including or not. We’ll tape the same scene a few times, from different camera angles and with varying dialog, just so the editor can choose which works best. The way the House Hunters International episodes are edited together, many aspects are repeated several times so that you could come into the show at any point and catch up on what took place moments earlier.
The final result reminds me of the way a villanelle poem works. I don’t expect you to know what that is. If it weren’t for an American poet, Cecilia Woloch, I wouldn’t know either. One of my favorite poems of hers, “East India Grill Villanelle,”* is as it says, a villanelle. It is a “fixed-form poem consisting of five tercets and a quatrain and also follows a specific rhyme scheme using only two different sounds. A tercet is a stanza with only three lines, and a quatrain is a stanza with four lines. Thus, the villanelle has nineteen total lines. There is also a pattern of two refrains, which are repeated lines in a poem or verse. Therefore, in a villanelle, two different lines repeat throughout the poem. Specifically, the first line recurs as lines 6, 12, and 18, and the third line recurs as lines 9, 15, and 19.” (See study.com for more detailed information.)
Friday night, a new HHI episode aired, which was taped back in November of 2019:
Season 154, Episode 8
Picky Hunting in Nice, France
New York newlyweds follow his dream of living abroad by moving to Nice, France. He’s passionate about having a dedicated office where he can teach linguistics, while she’s hoping for peace, quiet and a stove for cooking.
Someone recorded it and uploaded it to Youtube.com, although that’s not supposed to happen unless it’s the network broadcasting it to their own site/channel. As a result, don’t expect this link to the show to last for long.
Jack Newcastle and Sarah Starbuck are opposites who get along well like a yin and a yang. As an Italian descendant dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker, Jack is tough to please, but that’s what makes the search so challenging…and funny along the way. When you watch it, notice how the story repeats itself like a villanelle, although in this case, you may be laughing too hard to notice much of anything else.
Saturday afternoon, a friend and I went to see the new film “1917.” An epic tale, set during World War I about two young British soldiers who are tasked with delivering a message to call off an attack doomed to fail soon after the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line during Operation Alberich in 1917. Set in the trenches and battlefields in France, directed, co-written, and produced by Sam Mendes, the film received ten nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. It stars George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, with Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth, and Benedict Cumberbatch in supporting roles. See the official trailer.
If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t miss it, and be prepared. You will be on the edge of your seat from beginning to end, horrified and amazed, heart warmed and shocked. It’s simply riveting. My friend was panting throughout. I found my arms flailing a bit and at the end of two hours, my body was stiff with tension. What is most incredulous is how the film is created using almost no edits or cuts. It’s certainly NOT a villanelle. You’re in the trenches with these two soldiers from the first moment to the last and you virtually never lose sight of them as the story seamlessly evolves.
Exiting the theater, my first words were, “How in the hell did they make this film?” Here’s the answer to that question. I am still amazed! I don’t think House Hunters International will ever resort to the techniques used to create 1917…and I can assure you that makes me very, very happy!
* EAST INDIA GRILL VILLANELLE
BY CECILIA WOLOCH
Across the table, Bridget sneaks a smile;
she’s caught me staring past her at the man who brings us curried dishes, hot and mild.
His eyes are blue, intensely blue, hot sky;
his hair, dark gold; his skin like cinnamon.
He speaks in quick-soft accents; Bridget smiles.
We’ve come here in our summer skirts, heels high,
to feast on fish and spices, garlic naan,
bare-legged in the night air, hot and mild.
And then to linger late by candlelight
in plain view of the waiter where he stands
and watches from the doorway, sneaks a smile.
I’d dress in cool silks if I were his wife.
We try to glimpse his hands — no wedding band?
The weather in his eyes is hot and mild.
He sends a dish of mango-flavored ice
with two spoons, which is sweet; I throw a glance
across the shady patio and smile.
But this can’t go on forever, or all night
— or could it? Some eternal restaurant
of longing not quite sated, hot and mild.
And longing is delicious, Bridget sighs;
the waiter bows; I offer him my hand.
His eyes are Hindu blue and when he smiles
I taste the way he’d kiss me, hot and mild.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. Cecilia Woloch will be teaching during a retreat in Zamek Dubiecko, Poland, June 14-18, 2020 and at a workshop in Paris June 22-26, 2020. To learn more, contact Nasim Luczaj who is assisting Cecilia with organizing the retreat and workshop. To register for either or both, please contact Nasim at: [email protected].
P.P.S. Come support local artists, artisans, designers, chefs, and bakers in a one-day pop-up market event! An all-female cast of small business owners and ‘auto entrepreneurs have come together to share their wares. Find that special gift for a friend or loved one, that’s also been created by hand and with love.
LADY BOSS Bazaar Paris 1.0 – Valentine’s Day Market
Hosted by Tarts & Truffles
3-8 pm, Wednesday, February 12th, 2020
7 Rue Cochin, 75005
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