Life, Once Again! - Chapter 561
Sora bit on her thumb as she looked at the screen.
A whistleblower-style movie. This movie handled the bullying problem which was present throughout all of society. It was a problem where everyone kept shifting the blame onto others without any proper countermeasures. The objective of this film was to throw a question to the audience who turned a blind eye to such events. It was a common topic, but she thought that it wasn’t good to be greedy so she wasn’t dissatisfied.
Since she decided on a topic, the next course of action was to decide how to play this out. A character-centric film or a story-centric film? Show the entire story or hide some bits of it? As she came to decisions regarding those things, she was set on one rule which had to be prioritized above all else.
It had to be not boring.
Even the best quotes would fall on deaf ears if it was boring. The reason the line ‘slow and steady wins the race’ was formulated into the story of the tortoise and the hare was because a line would never reach other people’s ears no matter how good it was if it was not interesting. The numerous masterpieces that existed in this world could be summed up into a few lines. Love is mighty. Greed calls for misfortune. Effort is the greatest talent. They were words that would be very useful to keep in mind, but those lines were not interesting at all. Without interest, it wouldn’t be eye-catching, and it would not get the chance to leave its mark behind in the heart.
Film was the same. In order to transmit the message that the film was trying to say, it had to be ‘shown’ first. To be shown, it had to attract interest, and interest came from something that wasn’t boring. In the end, even film, which was considered a composite art, had to be ‘interesting’ at the bottom level.
‘This… this is not boring.’
Sora’s eyes followed the video. Maru was sighing as he ate breakfast. This was the beginning of the stage. The audience would get to see Maru waking up and eating at the table without any prior information. There was no background music, nor any loud events. She allocated two minutes to portray Maru before he commuted to school. In a short film that was about 20 to 30 minutes long, 2 minutes was an incredibly long time. No, even in full commercial movies, 2 minutes was long enough to finish a whole action scene or to reveal a plot twist beyond imagination.
She decided to spend such precious two minutes as a long take. There were no gimmicks in the direction, and there was no dramatic plot progress. It could be considered a boring part, but Sora was confident that the people who watched this would never think that it was boring.
After finishing breakfast, Maru put the plates in the kitchen sink and started walking towards the camera. The distance became smaller while Maru’s face became bigger. It was eventually big enough to fit the whole screen. Then, those two eyes that looked like they were looking beyond the screen. Sora could not stop biting the fingernail on her thumb despite the fact that she should stop. She could feel the tension. The quiet swear word uttered at the table inserted a sense of tension in the simple series of actions. Why did he swear? Was there a problem? Why are his eyes like that? It threw such questions, and those curiosities would steal the audience’s attention.
“I’ll watch it just one more time.”
Sora rewinded the video with the mouse and watched it again. The cut that was edited crudely on the spot and the long take were played back in series.
Splitting up cuts and connecting them required editing. A complete piece would only be made after collecting the best cuts for each scene among the hundreds of takes. This was why the skills of the video editor could be considered important.
In that sense, a long take removed any room for interference from editing. Of course, a long take was in itself, just a cut with a long duration, and were targets of editing in the sense that they had to be joined with other cuts, but it was definitely different from the short, chopped-up cuts. Perhaps it would be fitting to call it a ‘lump’. If a scene with a series of short cuts felt light, long takes felt much heavier. A long cut without any switches in the scene. It would feel like the scene was drawing the viewer in.
As such, the actor’s skill was very important when it came to long takes.
Actors had to show flawless acting in front of the camera that kept rolling without end. It might not sound so difficult when considering that it was simply just a longer take than usual, but that extra time became an incredible pressure for the actors. Shooting short cuts were very lenient when it came to NGs. It was a short scene that was about a few seconds long anyway. They just had to keep taking the shots and then try to pick a good one out of many. The overall shooting time wouldn’t be that long after all. This long take was 2 minutes and 36 seconds in its entirety. A small mistake in the middle of the shoot would mean that they had to start over from the beginning.
Sora found out what an incredible pressure that was to the actors as she studied directing. Long takes were about the tension that grabbed and drew the viewers in. A scene that continued without any switch in the perspective gave the sense that the viewers were spending the exact same amount of time as the character in the film. For that scene, one second in the film would mean one second in reality. The tension that came from that part was what would catch the audience’s eyes. In other words, not being able to grab the audience’s interest with that tension would mean that the audience’s expectations would plummet.
Footage that kept going on without any edits had to be ‘crazily’ reliant on the actor’s acting. The skills of the actor would solely decide the quality of the final product.
Actually, Sora was worried a lot before the shoot. It wasn’t a scene where Maru kept sitting down but one where he had to constantly move. Moreover, there were no lines or any other actors in the scene.
One actor had to fill the screen for two minutes without a voice and had to make it not look boring. She started off the shoot thinking that the whole premise was a joke. She originally planned to take a shot at it a few times and then split up the scenes if the progress was too slow. Time was one thing, but she had to keep the actor from getting exhausted.
Contrary to her expectations though, a single take was all that was needed. It wasn’t a scene that just scraped by without making mistakes. It was the ideal picture. Honestly, she didn’t expect Maru to do so well. She did have expectations, and although trivial mistakes were unacceptable in long takes, she decided to make compromises and go to the next.
Sora pressed the spacebar. This part was when Maru was quietly eating, taken diagonally from the back. Sora almost cheered out loud when she saw this part, where she could see a part of Maru’s face from the side.
Sora requested one thing from Maru: to express the main character who doesn’t want to go to school with his whole body. It was easy to say, but expressing that with just a single swear word and a few actions was definitely not simple. Even someone clueless about film would know that. She asked him to do that because she had a lot of expectations of him, despite knowing the fact that it might be impossible. Yet Maru answered her with the greatest result possible.
Maru’s gaze into the lens at the last part of the long take was good, but she could say with confidence that the part where he quietly chewed and swallowed food was clearly the best. It portrayed the depressing current state of the main character. Once the audience sees the bullying at the school, the audience would see an overlap with Maru who was eating very unpleasantly. This was the ideal prelude that planted a mysterious unease in the viewer.
“Now we just have to shoot you changing clothes and leaving the house.”
“Is that it for today?”
Sora nodded at Maru’s question. She originally expected several hours for the shoot, but it ended just 30 minutes after they came to her house. If the end result was not up to par, she would retake it over and over again, but since the first shoot was this good, she did not get the desire to shoot it again. But even so, she did ask just in case.
“Maru-seonbae. What do you think about doing it again? Do you think you can do better?”
“I don’t know. It’s not like I have perfect control over myself. I think that one just now was pretty good though. I was pretty absorbed in it.”
“Then that’s fine.”
“Are you really fine with just one take?”
“Yes. Retaking doesn’t necessarily guarantee that I’ll get something good, and I really like this cut. I can feel your breath from the screen.”
“Don’t put me on a pedestal. You won’t get anything.”
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“I really don’t do things like that. However, I do have to say what’s good is good. Don’t you think so too, Ando-seonbae?” Sora asked as she looked at Ando.
Ando would probably agree since he got to watch Maru from up close through the camera.
“It might be somewhat off for me to say this, but I don’t think we’ll get anything better than it. I just feel like that. When I was shooting you from the front, I felt stifled, and that was the first time I felt something like that. It felt like everything just fell into place. Anyway, I’m not Maru, so I can’t say anything about the acting, but I think this is the best we can do. If you tell me to do that again, I don’t think we’ll get the same thing.”
Sora was slightly surprised by Ando saying something so serious. The seonbae that was so opposed to shooting a film at first was talking about the shoot with such a serious face. She felt proud and touched. At that moment, she saw Ando-seonbae massaging his left arm.
“Ah! Wait. I’ll give you some plasters. Let’s take a 10-minute break! Maru-seonbae are you okay with that?”
“I don’t mind. Rather than that, look after his wrist. It’d be a big problem if the camera director is ill,” Maru said.
Sora agreed with him and went to the bedroom to find a plaster.
* * *
The shoot was very short, but the immersion was definitely different; Maru thought that as he looked at the script.
Dramas required long shoots. The shortest was around three hours, and sometimes a shoot would take a whole day. However, to be specific, the combined time of the shoots wasn’t that long. That was because he didn’t appear that much since he was a supporting character. He spent most of his time waiting. A short burst of a shoot followed by a long blank. The time he was absorbed into his character was extremely short. Also, the duration of that immersion was short as well. There were many cases where he just had one line or a short exclamation.
However, the film was different. He was the main character. The camera solely focused on him. That tension and pressure; as well as the black body of the camera and the transparent lens made him feel like he was on stage. It felt like the atmospheric pressure increased, his five senses became more sensitive. During Twilight Struggles, he got absorbed to the point that he lost himself, but back then, it felt more like he was being dragged along. He couldn’t fully control his acting back then and had to have Jiseok step in and help him out.
It wasn’t that he was perfect now. However, he definitely had a better and more precise understanding of how a shoot progressed. He now had the room to think about the camera, the director, the staff, as well as the position of the props naturally on top of being absorbed in acting. It seemed that shooting with other people around his physical age did give him some mental stability. Above all, this shoot didn’t have money on the stakes. This allowed him to focus on acting more than he expected.
“Maru-seonbae. I’m thinking that you should walk out like this. What do you think?”
Sora asked for his opinion as she walked out the door. Being able to consult and tune the film with the director. It was a different experience, and also a good opportunity to learn about how a director sees the film. He realized just how much it helped him study directing when he directly interfered with the directing of the film itself. Miso probably had him help out the film production club for this experience.
Of course, everyone here was an amateur so there was a tendency for everyone to get stuck on the same, unfamiliar problem, but discussing with the others in order to solve that problem helped him expand his thought processes as well.
Actors had to get absorbed in acting and portray someone else through acting, but a director would have to think about how to portray that acting. It seemed that it was good to consider the perspective of the director for a more varied style of acting.
“Why don’t I crumple the back of my shoes?”
“Let’s try both. One where you are wearing them properly and the other with the heels crumpled. I feel that crumpling it might feel better, but you never know without seeing it for yourself.”
Maru nodded. You never know without seeing it for yourself - she was right about that.
“Once we do this, we’ll be done with the beginning parts! Let’s go get something nice to eat after this,” Sora said with a smile.
 An error here. He’s supposed to have covered the table cloth without finishing the food.
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