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Preparation Was The Key To Sidney Lumet’s Filmmaking Style


In “Making Movies,” Lumet bluntly punctures the notion of “film magic.” This is how the sausage gets made. As is the case on most movies, Lumet shot piecemeal and out of continuity. “We went across the [deliberation room] thrice: as soon as for regular mild, a second time for the rain clouds gathering, which modified the standard of the sunshine coming from the skin, and the third time when the overhead lights have been turned on. [Lee J. Cobb] arguing with Henry Fonda would clearly have photographs of Fonda (in opposition to wall C) and photographs of Cobb (in opposition to wall A).”

Simple sufficient, proper? Not when your heavyweight actors — Cobb had originated the position of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” whereas Henry Fonda was, y’know, Henry Fonda — are shot every week aside.

“But that is the place rehearsals have been invaluable,” stated Lumet, describing the hectic schedule:

“After two weeks of rehearsal, I had a whole graph in my head of the place I wished every stage of emotion within the film to be. We completed in nineteen days (a day underneath schedule) and have been $1,000 underneath funds. Tom Landry stated it: It’s all within the preparation. I hate the Dallas Cowboys, and I’m not too loopy about him and his short-brimmed hat. But he hit the nail on the top. It is within the preparation. Do mountains of preparation kill spontaneity? Absolutely not. I’ve discovered that it is simply the alternative. When you recognize what you are doing, you’re feeling a lot freer to improvise.”

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