When I was younger, I used to lie in bed and try to piece out the cuts of a scene from a film. It was a person lying in bed, like I was, and one of the shots was a close up on the character’s hand as he gripped the bed sheet, just before waking up, then a cut to the eyes opening, and then a side shot of the head, staying there as the head lifts off the pillow. I was fascinated by the split second of the empty pillow where the head had just left.
The best understanding of filmmaking I had at that time was probably the reprint of the Star Wars screenplay. I would thumb through it from time to time. It went through every shot, almost frame by frame, and I thought I had to do the same in constructing a film. It overwhelmed me, but also gave me a fascinating sense of control. I went through that film scene over and over again in my mind, playing it through, six or so shots, falling back and sitting up, repeating again and again exactly how I would like the film to look. I remember thinking something to the effect of, this flows well, I think it will work, I think the tension will build. And of course, that made me think of Entertainment Weekly and their constant praise of Hitchcock, the filmmaker.
Being big into lists, I had their list of the top 50 directors of all time. Hitchcock was number one. Therefore, in my mind, he was the greatest film director. I can still see the page now, his silhouette and the column of words on the right of his bald head. I read that page countless times, and wondered if I would ever be able to locate a copy of Strangers on a Train.
I used to hoard magazines of similar subject: I would have piles near my bed, or line them up on my bookshelf, always excited by what I was going to pull out. I suppose, to a degree, I still do this, but only for certain subjects.
Now, I think of creating, or writing, one film scene–not a full movie, just a scene–and become overwhelmed. Because, by normal cause and effect standards, one scene would only lead to another to another and so on; I cannot see a ray of light without seeing the whole developed picture, and it overwhelms and stunts me.