I've been thinking about beginnings lately. So let's talk.
Taxi Driver begins with looming, double music. The music track gets jerked back and forth from groovy jazz to looming orchestrals. The car comes through the fog then there's extreme close up of Travis Bickle. Then he gets a job, "I just want to work long hours." Then he walks, drinks, does his job. Narration and then a porno theatre at dawn.
A lot of the logic is seemingly non-sequiter, and I like that. The logic is within the character, totally internal rather than any kind of external force on it. If he's walking down the street, of course he would be walking down the street drinking booze on his way to drive. If he's getting a job it's not for money, it's because he can't sleep. He drives all night, then starts his new dawn a porno theatre. Travis is an entity and the events are strung together in a way that balances himself with the environment that he's in with happenstance. For example: he's not looking for Betsy or Iris, he comes across them because of who he is. The internal logic becomes external.
The beginning gives a weird folding of time. He's already in the taxi, but then he goes to get a job after we already see him there. The status quo is set emotionally first, then logically. That's really what I've been looking at: how the s quo is set up, and here it begins in the present with no past. It's strange.
Life Aquatic has a good opening. Lots going on: first the film within the film in introduced to the audience, but the film you are watching and the film the audience is watching become the same thing. Nice meta/internal thing going on there.
The real deftness of the beginning comes in the revealing of the old and the new, and how they are both presented. We are shown a film of who Zissou was, what happened to him and his friend, and then right after we are shown who he is now. The audience is literally able to hold a Q+A with the main character. We as an audience are given what was and what will be, the shark attack and the subsequent hunt, without actually being in either one of those contexts. We aren't shown the status quo on a boat, or in a Taxi like Bickle, but rather at a film festival. So there's three contexts working together here, where the present is something informed by the past and anticipating the future. It's great.
Rescue Dawn has a strange beginning. The dialogue is all explication at first glance: The vietnam situation, what Dengler is doing, that it is his first flight. It's all situational. The characters do float through this, though: everything they say is really informing to who they are, even in this very rigid, non-character-based opening. The entire movie is just a spectacle of good acting. (also, the VERY beginning of the movie, the music and documentary footage, is some of the most beautiful images Herzog's ever put on screen).
The real beginning is the crash. The character's emerge out of this, and the first ten or so minutes of the movie is really dedicated to filling setting up a rigid context. I think the crash coming so early is one of the film's major strengths: anyone who talks film with me knows how much I loath a wasted first act.
More on that soon, I'm sure.
We're looking to fake a black out on a major scale. I think it'll be fun. Our plan right now is to film the city lights from a vantage point, which we've found a location for, and then do a photoshop mask of every light in an entire grid. Just black them out and paste it over the filmed shot. It's like those guys who had to colorize old black and white movies by hand painting every frame, but easier.
If anyone has any suggestions, or any easier approach, let me know. We unfortunately do not know anyone who can shut down entire sections of power for LA.
Also you should go here and watch the trailer.