Practitioners Report

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Micheal Mann is an American director known primarily for the feature film ‘Heat’ (1995).  He was born on the 5th of February, 1943 in  Chicago, Illinois, United States. He has two children named Ami Canaan Mann, Aran Reo Mann and is married to Summer Mann who was an Art Director on a short film called White Horse (2010).

He has been credited as director on 20 productions however has been apart of many others as different roles such as the Cinematographer for 17 Days Down the Line (Documentary Short) (1972). 

He is still in the industry and has announced a new project, ‘Untitled Tony Accardo/Sam Giancana Biopic’ Which he is directing and producing however it currently has no release date.

As my chosen interest for my final major project is film noir/neo-noir, I am going to look at Micheal Mann’s recent neo-noir, Collateral (2004) starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. The film is set in Los Angeles (LA) during the night, a hitman hires a taxi driver to drive him from target to target. The choice of shots in this film represent the night life of LA in a very unique way, it uses reflections in the car window and the background to show the busy night life.

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The image above is an example of the types of shots that is used in Collateral that follows the neo-noir genre. Most neo-noirs are shot in colour but still implement the use of shadows and strong lighting, this shot uses shadows to create mystery about the character in shot. The out of focus city lights in the background makes the character really stand out and greatly improves the impact of the shadow, it makes him seem like a powerful figure towering over the city which works with his job title as a hired killer.

The narrative of this film is quite different to the generic noir film. It does follow crime however from the point of view of the villain, Vincent played by Tom Cruise. Although the villain in this film is more of an anti-hero, Michael Mann uses back story and companionship between the two main characters to make Vincent into a more likeable character and makes it appear that what he is doing as just a job which fits the theme of film noir as not everything is black and white. Another thing that supports this is the ending of the film. Vincent dies after a shootout with the other protagonist, Max played by Jamie Foxx. Although he is supposed to be the villain in the movie as a viewer you cant help but feel sorry for him and upset with the events of the night.

 

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Billy Wilder is a director/screenwriter mainly know for his popular film noir ‘Sunset Boulevard’ (1950) and ‘Double Indemnity (1944). He’s a credited director for 27 productions however has been credited for writing over 80 projects. 

He was born on the 22nd of June 1906 in Sucha Beskidzka, Poland and died on the 27th of March 2002 in Beverly Hills, California, United States. He was married twice to two different women, Audrey Young and Judith Coppicus. He had two children with his first wife Judith Coppicus, a boy called Vincent Wilder and a girl named Victoria Wilder.

Billy Wilder originally wanted to become a lawyer but he later chose to forget about the path and become a reporter working for the Viennese newspaper he later used the experience he got from that job and moved to Berlin. He started to work with film as a screenwriter in 1929 and wrote many scripts for German film. This is until Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, in which Wilder thought his Jewish ancestry would cause problems so he moved to Paris, and later the US. This didn’t stop him with his passion in films, although he couldn’t speak much English when he got to the US, he got into American films thanks to his roommate Peter Lorre who taught him the language.

Billy Wilder has many trade marks in his films. He very commonly uses low-key lighting which give films a dark feeling to it, low-key lighting is technique also commonly used in film noir. It gives a sense of mystery to the scene and fits the genre its trying to be. Although it isn’t by Billy Wilder, A good example of this in modern neo-noir style is the picture below from the film ‘Fight Club’ (1999) Directed by David Fincher. As we are introduced to the character of Tyler Durden he asked the protagonist to hit him. The context of the scene and the characters fit well with the genre trying to be created. Another thing Billy Wilder does in a lot of his films is starting it with a narration. This is a common thing used in neo-noir films. This is a good technique used in many films to progress the story and show what the character is feeling.

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(Film, no date)

2-shot(Recent posts, 2014)

 

Conclusion

Both Billy Wilder and Micheal Mann have influenced me creatively. I will be taking inspiration from their productions and techniques and transforming them into my FMP. I like the look of the low-key lighting used by both Billy Wilder and Micheal Mann, specifically how it is used and experimented with in ‘Collateral’ and hope to implement into my own project.

 

 

Bibliography

2017 (1990) ‘Billy Wilder’, in Available at: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000697/bio (Accessed: 21 February 2017).

Film (no date) HIGH KEY, LOW KEY, LIGHTING, CONTRAST free cinematography Tutorial VIDEO PRODUCTION film school online, FilmSchoolOnline.Com, online film school, Lou LaVolpe, Louis La Volpe. Available at: http://filmschoolonline.com/sample_lessons/sample_lesson_cinematography.htm (Accessed: 21 February 2017).

Recent posts (2014) Available at: https://jenniferlymillsmoviecritique.wordpress.com/tag/low-key-lighting/ (Accessed: 21 February 2017).

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Practitioners Report

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