Posts Tagged ‘Jeffrey Reiner’

The title of this post should say Writing, Directing, Shooting and Lighting Friday Night Lights, but that’s a little cumbersome and not quite as catchy.

As I get up to speed on the TV show Friday Night Lights which ran from 2006-2010, I’m not going to quite yet confess to a mancrush on Kyle Chandler, but I will say that southern drawl is mesmerizing. (Can he record some Larry McMurtry books on tape?)  And Chandler (who plays Coach Chandler) reminds me of every wise coach/father figure I had growing up in Florida playing sports who seemed concerned with doing the right thing. (And for some reason most of them were from places like Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Arkansas and Georgia and spoke just like Chandler.)

As a fan of middle America, there is an authenticity that I think rings true in this show—a real sense of time and place. And of people who live in that time and place. And while the place is specific to Texas it somehow becomes universal. All rooted in the ground work of H.G. Bissinger’s book Friday Night Lights: A Town. a Team, and a Dream in which he used high school football as a backdrop to look at deeper issues.

I just read an article about how they approached the production of the TV program according to producer/director Jeffrey Reiner who worked on 39 of the programs.

“The (Friday Night Lights) writers are not precious about every word being said. So we stick to the script in the sense that a scene is a scene, but we have the license to explore what is the truth of the scene. Instead of trying to mimic exactly what’s on the page, we’re just kind of finding it, in a very organic way.

There’s nothing technical about our approach. In a regular TV show, actors have to hit their marks, and they rehearse, and they have to wait for the lighting. Our show, before you know it, we’re shooting. There’s no rehearsal. There are no marks. We have very minimal lighting. After you’ve done that for six months, the show’s progressed to the point … it just feel so organic.

In a regular TV show, if you’re going to sit and do a scene, you have to wait for the lighting, you have to find the right place for the camera. Here, we’re shooting 8 hour days, instead of 14 hour days. We just shoot. I’ll say, ‘I want a camera here and a camera here. The third camera – you surprise me.’

That third camera, even if you’re shooting the scene in a traditional way, that third camera will find a different point of view. So you’re in the moment, and you cut to that camera angle, you’re seeing the scene from a radically different place. And it doesn’t cost us any time or money to get those shots.”
Jeffrey Reiner
Chicago Tribune interview with Maureen Ryan

I have made two short films using two cameras rolling at the same time and I do think it gives the actors a closer feel of being in the moment. And from those actors coming from the theater it is much closer to live theater than big budget features where sometimes the actors are doing close-ups while their co-star is sitting in their trailer.

As digital cameras get better and cheaper (and budgets and shooting schedule get tighter) I see muticamera productions becoming more common. (Even ones not going for a Cinema verite/documentary  look. Heck, if Edward Burns uses two or three cameras on his next feature he could probably shoot the thing in five days.

Scott W. Smith

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