This chapter looks at the responsibilities of the production team and presenters. The team includes producer, director, floor manager, researcher, script supervisor, vision mixer or switcher, sound supervisor, sound assistant, camera operator, lighting director, lighting assistant, character generator (graphics), video operator/editor, teleprompter operator, set designer, presenter or actor, technical resources manager, and scene crew. Together with the Producer, the Director will be responsible for arriving at a workable schedule, casting (where applicable), shooting and post-production. The more complex the programme and the higher its budget, the more likely it is that there will be other people to support all these responsibilities. Student productions tend not to use scene crew, but they are often present in some guise in professional studios, though the tasks may often be absorbed into other roles.
This chapter provides a detailed discussion on technical jobs in the studio. The Vision Mixer is responsible for switching between the output of different cameras and other sources available in the particular production. In some organisations, there is a (Studio) Technical Director. This individual could perform the function of a Switcher or Vision Mixer, including responsibility for overall technical quality of the picture output and for ensuring the crew are all present and functioning. The Sound Supervisor is responsible for all sound elements required for the programme, though if a programme is edited and then dubbed, there may be one Supervisor for the Studio Recording and another, a Dubbing Mixer, for the dub. The Sound Assistant is responsible to the Sound Supervisor and assists him or her as required. Virtually all professional studios and most student facilities have a character generator available, usually operated from the gallery.
It takes time to master any kind of professional camera and there are specialist books on the subject. The information here is the basis of what anyone working in television or film production needs to know, but nothing beats working with a camera and an experienced camera crew. The process in most studio quality colour cameras entails the use of mirrors splitting the different wavelengths of light, usually into red, green and blue components. Each split needs its own CCD. This is broadly true for all current video cameras from cell-phones to the latest Red Digital Cinema equipment, where the quality of the image is close to 35 mm film. Colour control of the camera output, including colour balance and exposure, are dealt with by the Vision Operator through the CCUs. TV studio cameras should have tally lights.
This essay examines diverse strands of surrealist influence in the cult film The Holy Mountain (1973), by Chilean-French director Alejandro Jodorowsky. Through a discussion of the historical context of Jodorowsky’s artistic production in the post-war period, as well as specific surrealist sources for the film, I argue that La montaña Sagrada is closely aligned with international surrealism in plot, set, and cinematography, but that it simultaneously formulates its own unique countercultural framework by building on this substrate of influence. Based largely upon the unfinished novel by French para-surrealist René Daumal, Le Mont Analogue: Roman d'aventures alpines, non euclidiennes et symboliquement authentiques (1952), The Holy Mountain evokes Jodorowsky’s fascination with surrealism since his involvement with theatre and poetry in Santiago, Chile during the 1950s, and his collaboration in the para-surrealist group Panique in France and Mexico starting in in 1962. Continuing his long-standing homage to Leonora Carrington and Antonin Artaud in The Holy Mountain, Jodorowsky explores a saturated visual world of the occult, alchemy, the tarot, and altered states of consciousness in a barrage of experimental tactics throughout the film.
Luis Buñuel’s essay ‘The Cinema, Instrument of Poetry’ was first published in 1958, but dates back a further five years to a paper the reclusive director gave in 1953. This essay demonstrates that, first, the backdrop to the essay is the international success of Buñuel’s Los olvidados (1950), which had put him back on the map, in Europe at least, following his disappearance as a film-maker after 1933’s Land without Bread (Las Hurdes). Second, since Los olvidados and Italian neorealism are contemporaneous, Buñuel, wary of the conflation of the two, to the detriment of his own movie, feels compelled to define the parameters of both neorealism and surrealism. Third, ‘The Cinema, Instrument of Poetry’ is a surrealist text through and through. Fourth, both Los olvidados and ‘The Cinema, Instrument of Poetry’ mark the return to the surrealist fold of this cinéaste maudit, at least as a far-flung fellow traveller using the ideas of the movement as his moral-poetic compass.
A few years before Lawrence Jordan’s cut-out animations, Jean Desvilles made a film in 1961 animating Max Ernst’s surrealist collage novel, Une semaine de bonté, published in 1934. The essence of animated film being movement, transferring and adapting a book to film necessarily involves a redefinition of collage. Desville’s process is indeed not just an adaptation, but a genuine transposition. For instance, while Ernst endeavoured to erase all traces of the collage process, Desvilles detached the figures from the background when animating them. Far from obliterating Ernst’s efforts and the collage process itself, Desvilles renewed Ernst’s collages with cut-out paper animation, but also with other film techniques, such as a flickering effect within the frames hung on the walls as in Ernst’s original work, a vibrating effect for the figures, and figures superimposed over figures. From collage to cut- out, several problems arise as to how Desvilles’ movie is to be understood in the context of post-1945 surrealist film. Far from being unfaithful to Ernst, this frame-by-frame cut-out animation is a way of showing Ernst’s work on screen rather than in a book, a film as an exhibition, and a kind of film on art.
The post-war surrealist Robert Benayoun acknowledged in an interview the importance of a certain strain of science fiction to his film Paris n’existe pas (1969), but also its indebtedness to the fiction of modernist author Henry James and the 1933 mainstream movie Berkeley Square, lauded by André Breton around the time of its release. In this essay, I bring together the two films for the first time, reading Paris n’existe pas initially against the background of SF, but more as an updated version of Berkeley Square. That is to say, I interpret Paris n’existe pas as a film that is immersed in a history of mediumism as that has been understood in the theoretical and anecdotal history of surrealism. In this sense, the commonalities between the ‘time travel’ on view in both Paris n’existe pas and Berkeley Square are shown to be nothing less than the second sight observed by Breton in his longer theoretical tracts, such as Nadja (1928) and Mad Love (1937). Consequently, these can then be related to the novels of James in a comparison of surrealism and high modernism made on only one previous occasion, in the writings of none other than Benayoun himself.
The early surrealist writings on film have secured their place in film history and the history of film theory, but the surrealist movement’s presence in post-war film culture remains a blind spot in film studies. The Introduction describes how surrealists turned to film criticism and film-making with renewed vigour following World War II, before discussing the methodological challenges involved in expanding the study of surrealist film to the post-World War II period. It argues that surrealist cinema and its widespread impact cannot be fully understood unless its drastically understudied post-war history is consistently acknowledged and charted. Discussing the post-war reception of surrealism, its political pursuits, and its widened interests generally, the Introduction sets out specific examples of how the history of surrealist film intersects with the movement’s broader history and outlook.
This essay deals with Joseph Cornell’s peculiarly American transformation of surrealism in both his more traditional art works, his boxes and collages, and the films he made. Although Cornell’s work frequently displays his Francophile taste, I claim his appropriation of surrealism shows a strong relation not only to European Symbolist poetry, but also American Romanticism as typified by Melville and Hawthorne, but particularly Emily Dickinson. Further, both his boxes and his cinematic work show Cornell’s grasp of the moving image as a unique means for conveying moments of sudden inspiration and revelation, corresponding to what Walter Benjamin called surrealism’s ‘profane illumination’. Cornell’s films, but also his boxes, which frequently evoke the mechanism of ‘pre-cinema’, inscribe an experience of glimpses and sudden revelations through the evanescent aspect of the moving image.
Leonora Carrington’s cinematic adventures in Mexico
This chapter explores the imaginative play of Leonora Carrington’s writings in the context of her collaboration with the Mexican film-maker Juan López Moctezuma. Carrington acted as art director and costume designer for his film The Mansion of Madness (1972), based loosely on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story ‘The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether’ (1845). The mise-en-scène is resplendent with recognisable iconography from both her stories and paintings. Moctezuma considered the camera a magical instrument that allowed for the creation of other worlds, and The Mansion of Madness enters a marvellous asylum through the fairy-tale trope of the mysterious forest. Carrington took a playful role in the creation of this world, populating it with her signature ideas in the form of objects, and advising on innovatively staged and choreographed scenes that trouble the male gaze. The temporal, spatial, and physical aspects of this collaboration are of interest to studies in film and surrealism, as the film serves as both real and virtual archive of Carrington’s creative practice. This chapter considers how Carrington’s cinematic adventures cast a new light on the recurring fears and desires in her wider work.