Recommendation: Steven Soderbergh’s Spielberg School

That is an article title that I defy you to say 10 times quickly.

Director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Magic Mike and many more…) put something on his blog in 2014 that I have only just discovered. It is a lesson in moviemaking.

He took a particularly famous film by Steven Spielberg, put it into black and white, and took the sound out, replacing it with music. He basically turned it into a silent film.

And then he invited us to watch it with this simple premise: that you will still know exactly what is going on at any given moment. Sure, there will be the odd detail you might miss, but what is on screen is expressed so clearly, with all of the tricks of cinema, that you really don’t need dialogue or sound.

As Soderbergh himself puts it:

“So I want you to watch this movie and think only about staging, how the shots are built and laid out, what the rules of movement are, what the cutting patterns are. See if you can reproduce the thought process that resulted in these choices by asking yourself: why was each shot—whether short or long—held for that exact length of time and placed in that order? Sounds like fun, right? It actually is. To me. Oh, and I’ve removed all sound and color from the film, apart from a score designed to aid you in your quest to just study the visual staging aspect. Wait, WHAT? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? Well, I’m not saying I’m like, ALLOWED to do this, I’m just saying this is what I do when I try to learn about staging, and this filmmaker forgot more about staging by the time he made his first feature than I know to this day (for example, no matter how fast the cuts come, you always know exactly where you are—that’s high level visual math shit).”

Here is the link:

Least Favourite Thing:
The music that Soderbergh uses is… not that great, I think. But then again, it’s fair enough: he just wanted to create this video to make a point, and it wouldn’t have been worth commissioning specific music to fit an entire film.

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